From Publishers Weekly
This prodigiously researched inquiry is an excellent addition to the history of Iberian Jews, prior to their expulsion in 1492. The author, a medievalist (Muslims of Valencia in the Age of Fernando and Isabel) and an associate professor at the Univ. of Toronto, has thoroughly examined Jewish life in the small Valencian town of Morvedre (now Sagunto) from 1391 until the exile. He demonstrates how the Jews in the area enjoyed a so-called "Renaissance" after 1416, during which time they prospered economically and co-existed cooperatively with local Christians. He takes issue with other scholars who have concluded that after 1391, when Jews throughout Castile and the Crown of Aragon were attacked, murdered and forcibly baptized as conversos, those who remained lived only a marginal existence. Drawing on extensive archival material, the author details how the Jewish adjama (legal community) of Morvedre, who numbered ¼ of the population, revitalized themselves by adjusting to the restrictions that prohibited them from supporting themselves as moneylenders, although they still made small loans. They prospered through wine-making, varied investments and the development of artisan silversmiths, whose outstanding work became justly famous. In accomplished prose, Meyerson also describes how Morvedres Jews interacted with the conversos of Valencia, where the Jewish adjama had been eradicated, and their relationship with Muslims in the region. This is an arresting local study that should spur research into other individual medieval towns, but its heavily academic style may lose nonspecialists. B&w illus.
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Runner-Up for the 2005 National Jewish Book Award in History, Jewish Book Council
"In his eloquent style, [Meyerson] highlights the complex inner workings of a multicultural society such as that of medieval Morvedre, and presents a new methodology that other Hispanists should apply to their studies."--Choice
"Mark D. Meyerson constructs a subtle understanding of Spain before the Expulsion. He details not only the political relationship between the kings and 'their' Jews, but even more interestingly, the complex relationship between open Jews and the conversos of 1391."--Jewish Book World
"Making a signal contribution to our knowledge of the Jews of medieval Spain is surely no easy matter. Mark D. Meyerson has performed precisely such a service in these two valuable volumes. All those concerned with the history of the medieval Iberian peninsula and/or its Jews are deeply indebted to him."--Robert Chazan, Ecclesiastical History
"Elegantly conceived and painstakingly documented, Mark D. Meyerson's A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain
stands as a strong and solid contribution both to medieval Iberian history and Jewish history. . . . Meyerson has given the Jews of Morvedre a historical agency and a uniquely human subjectivity that would otherwise have remained silent."--Horacio Chiong Rivero, Sixteenth Century Journal
"This more than authoritative book might not bequeath all the right answers, but it most certainly asks all the right questions."--David Marx, davidmarx.co.uk
"This is the most detailed history yet written of any Jewish community in Mediterranean Spain, in the town of Morvedre in the Kingdom of Valencia."--GlennW. Olsen, European Legacy