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Iberia Judaica IV (2013) 147-151

TEMPLARS AND THE JEWS IN CATALONIA
NORMAN ROTH

Surprisingly little has been written about the relations between the Knights
Templar and the Jews, in Spain or elsewhere. The standard histories of Jews
in Spain, even more specialized ones focusing on Catalonia, scarcely mention
the Templars. For that matter, there are few articles dealing generally with the
Templars in Catalonia.
1
The Order of the Knights of the Temple, established
in 1120, was the recipient of generous donations from Catalan nobles almost
from the beginning. In 1131 Count Ramon Berenguer III joined the order just
before his death.
The earliest reference involving Jews and the Templar is in 1157-58, such
as the grant by the comendator of the Templars at Gardeny (near Lérida) of
some land to a Jew “in perpetuity”. There were other such grants to Jews by
the same person in 1157.
2
In 1174, “Prophed” (Profiat) of Gerona, a Jew, sold
to the same house of the Templars at Gardeny some small country houses and
curtales (?) adjoining their property. The next year, Jafia b. David of Monzón,
baile (bailiff) of Alfonso II in Lérida, sold to the same Templars at Gardeny a
wine cellar and vineyard in Lérida for 200 mrs.
3
We then must jump to the thirteenth century for the next records involving
Jews.
4
The first known document of Jaime I issued in Majorca (1230) was a
donation to the Templars of the castle Almodaina dels jueus.
5
In 1228, Ramon
de Montcada, master of the Templars “mindful of the devotion and fidelity
which the Jews now residing in Tortosa and their predecessors have had
towards us and our predecessors” gave the castle of Baneres to twenty-five
Jews of Tortosa and their descendants, in addition to a promise not to use
force against them or permit others to do so and the right to maintain an oven
1
 The only recent one is Josep Maria Sans i Travé, “The Military Orders in Catalonia”, Catalan
Historical Review 4 (2011):53-82, which of course surveys briefly the history of all the orders, not
only the Templars. Jews are not mentioned in this article.
2
 Baer, Juden 1: 20-21.
3
 Ibid., 31-32, Nos. 42, 43. Jafia was very important, serving also as baile of Barcelona; see also
ibid., 27 and 28, no. 37.
4
 There are some minor references in Baer, Juden that are not detailed here (1: 46. 64, 70); note,
however, the reference to Jews in Miravet as vassals of the order in 1180, ibid., p. 1021.
5
  Miret i Sans, Itinerari, p. 85. Almodaina derives from Arabic maid n, meaning “battlefield,
castle”; probably identical with Almudaina de Gomera (cf. Pere Xamena Fiol, Història de Mallorca
[Mallorca, 1978], p.59).
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147-151 Iberia Judaica IV (2013)
and a synagogue on the property, with the promise to have the king confirm
the charter.
6
The commander of Palau in 1253 acknowledged a debt of 2,000 Barcelona
sueldos to Isaac “Adreti”, certainly the brother of the famous Rabbi Solomon
Ibn Adret.
7
In 1255, the master of the order for the province of Teruel bor-
rowed 120 morabatinos from Jucef and his brother Solomon Abenafia, and
granted them all taxes, usufruct, etc. from all property belonging to the order
in the region of Calatayud for a period of fifteen years.
8
In a memorial of injuries and complaints between the community of
“Montço” (Monzón) and the Templars (the master, Bernat d’Atarriba, was also
overlord of the town), ca. 1255-58, it is stated that when the Jews received a
document from the king allowing them to collect debts due them, the people
of the town threatened to destroy the judería and armed mobs attacked it at
night. The Templars intervened to defend the Jews.
9
In 1262, the Templars apparently protested the “construction of a syna-
gogue, newly made in his house” by Astruc Jaco Xion (Astrug Jacob Xixon)
of Tortosa, baile of Jaime I.
10
Astrug was later (1280) baile of Tortosa.
11
Inter-
estingly, Abraham, son of Açach (Isaac) Maimon, was baile of the Templars
and of Guillem de Montcada in Tortosa in 1257.
12
Masters of the order and overlords of Monzón acted repeatedly on behalf
of the Jews. In 1271, at the insistence of the master, Jaime I granted to the
Jews of Monzón the concession that the Jews of Barbastro should participate
in their tax assessment for property they owned in Monzón. Again in the same
year, at the insistence of the master, Jaime conceded that in cases involving
Jews and Christians there must be a Jewish as well as Christian witness (this
soon became the law of the land). Later, however, in a dispute in 1289 between
the general master of the houses of the Templars in the kingdom, Berenguer
6
  Shideler, Medieval Catalan Family, 205-06. As the author notes, the castle, no longer extant, is
described in the charter as “extending from the Suda toward Remolins, the nothern suburb of Tortosa
where traces of early Jewish settlement are still evident”.
7
 Complete text in Forey, Templars, Appendix XX. There are numerous documents involving loans
by members of Ibn Adret’s family, particularly his brother Isaac but also Solomon himself.
8
 Baer, Juden 1: 98-100, No. 95.
9
 Miret y Sans, “Documents”, 373. The ruined castle of the Templars is still to be seen in Monzón,
which had a very important Jewish community.
10
 Baer, Juden 1:125, see also pp. 110-11 on Astrug. In addition to public synagogue buildings,
private individuals sometimes made a small synagogue in their houses, which were open to friends
and neighbors. The following year, Jaime granted a privilege to a Jew of Barcelona, Bonanast Salamo,
allowing him to make such a synagogue in one of the houses he owned. The baile of Barcelona was
ordered to protect the synagogue and the Jews who came there. In 1267, permission was granted to
enlarge the synagogue (Régné, History of the Jews, No. 208; Bofarull y Sans, “Jaime I”, p. 840; Miret
i Sans, Itinerari, p. 342).
11
 Romano, Judíos al Servicio de Pedro el Grande, 132, alluded to discussions which supposedly
took place between Astrug Jacob Xixon (or Sixo, as his name clearly appears three times in the doc-
ument, and almost certainly “Sesuní” in another place) and Ramon de Montcada and the Templars in
Tortosa “concerning injuries and the diminution of the taxes”. However, although the cited documents
(in the Archivo de la Corona de Aragón) are extremely difficult to read, they appear to say nothing of
the sort but merely refer to Astrug’s appointment as baile. I could find no mention of Ramon de Mont-
cada there; however, see the text of Astrug’s original appointment edited by Romano, p. 238, No. 22.
12
 Régné, History of the Jews, No. 61 (not mentioned by Bofarull, Miret, Foley or Romano). This
in spite of the fact that the laws of Tortosa specifically prohibited Jews from holding the office of
baile, or other public office.
TEMPLARS AND THE JEWS IN CATALONIA
Iberia Judaica IV (2013) 147-151
149
de San Justo, and the Jews of Monzón over taxes, he claimed that the Jews
should be exempt from all royal taxes and imposts. Alfonso III (then king)
finally had to abandon his claim to these.
13
Not all relations between Jews and Templar masters were so benign. For
instance, there was a series of acts, ca. 1250-1276, involving the Jews of
Tortosa, under the overlordship of Ramon de Montcada and the Templars
there. These indicate that the Templars had the authority even of imprisoning
Jews, as in the case of one who insulted another. Other charges included the
failure to pay taxes due.
14
In 1289, Alfonso III, informed by the master of the
Templars that the Jews of Albalate (de Cinca), Alcolea (de Cinca), Pomar and
Grandella, who were required to pay taxes with the aljama of Monzón, refused
to do so. The king ordered them to pay, subject to excommunication by the
aljama of Lérida, according to “Jewish çuna” (sic, Arabic: law, but sometimes
confused with torá).
15
In 1280, the master (probably Pedro de Montcada) seized property of Jews
in Aragón because of pledges held by one Içach Cap for debts of Christians
and Jews in Acre (territory in the Land of Israel under Templar jurisdiction).
Pedro III ordered the return of the seized property, since this Içach for some
time had not lived in the kingdom (similar letters went to the Hospitalers and
to the Aragonese consuls at Pisa, Venice and Cyprus, apparently in an effort
to apprehend Içach).
16
In the same year, the king complained that Pedro de
Montcada, as overlord of Tortosa, had demanded on behalf of the queeen
payment from Jews of the cena. The king objected that the queen had never
demanded this of the Jews.
17
Very puzzling is the record of an order by Pedro III in 1284 to the alcaide
(judge) of Daroca that he protect the “person and goods” of Mahomet and
his brother (Muslims), and also the house of the Templars, from the onerous
demands of the Jews upon them for the payment of cenas and other tribute.
Apparently the Jews had loaned them money which was not repaid.
18
In a responsum of Solomon Ibn Adret, we learn that one of the Jews of
Tortosa moved from the city and paid his tax assessment before he left, but
eventually he returned to live again in Tortosa. One of the lords of the city
(Tortosa was then under the joint overlordship of the master of the Templars
and the house of the de Montcadas)
19
complained that the Jew had paid 1,000
13
 Régné, History of the Jews, Nos. 491, 493, 1974, 1980, 2114, 2115. For other details of taxes
imposed on the Jewish communities, and the claim of the Jews of Tortosa that they were exempt from
paying taxes and special imposts with other communities, see Forey, Templars, pp.129, 143 (some of
those are also recorded in Régné).
14
 Baer, Juden 1: 123-25.
15
 Régné, History,No. 1981.
16
 Régné, History, No. 804. Isaac was finally apprehended and satisfied his obligations, ibid., No.
857. Baer misinterpreted these events (History of the Jews in Christian Spain [Philadelphia, 1966;
abridged] 1: 210; Historia de los Judíos en la España Cristiana [Madrid, 1982; complete] 1:169).
17
 Régné, History, No. 809. The cena (Catalan cene), or so-called “hospitality tax”, was to provide
for the expenses of the royal household and retinue while traveling. Jews as well as Christians had
to pay this, of course.
18
 Campillo y Casamor, Documentos, pp. 356-67.
19
 See Baer, Juden 1: 39, No. 48; where, however, Ramon de Montcada there cannot possibly be
the person referred to in this case, as Baer believed, for the date of that document is 1181, long before
NORMAN ROTH 150
147-151 Iberia Judaica IV (2013)
dinars (sueldos) as tax to the overlord and he now demanded an equal sum
before the Jew could be allowed to resettle in the city, “for so is the custom of
the lords of the city”. The printed text of the question is abridged, but in his
reply Ibn Adret states that the Jew had paid “don Ramon de Montcada” but
not the comandor (Catalan, “commander”, master of the order). If he does not
pay, then the community is obligated to pay for him.
20
In 1291, Jaime II ordered the Jewess Jamilla of Calatayud to surrender
certain property to the Templars because she ha failed to pay taxes (not “rent”)
on it.
21
There was a dispute in Zaragoza in 1294 when the Templars claimed to
have privileges exempting certain Jews from taxes to the crown, and the Jew-
ish community insisted that all the Jews had to contribute to the assessment.
22
Berenguer de Cardona, grand master of the Templars in the kingdom, in
1298 requested from Jaime II confirmation of all the former privileges to the
order and their “men”, Christians, Jews and Muslims, and particularly those to
Secrino, son of Salamon Abenlavi, and to Jahuda Abenlavi of Zaragoza, and
their descendants. The king confirmed these, specifically mentioning
Salamon, Abraham Azday and Astruch, sons of Jahuda Abenlavi.
23
Clearly,
these are the same as the sons of Jahuda de Cavalleria, the famous official
of Jaime I, and thus we see that Ibn Labi was the Hebrew name of the de
Cavalleria family.
24
In 1419, Alfonso V, in recognition of the outstanding ser-
vices of Jahuda ben Lavi de Cavalleria and his sons Vital and Salomom (all
of Zaragoza) granted them all privileges, franchises, exemptions, etc. enjoyed
previously by Salamon Abinlevi (Ibn Labi), son of “Crecrini”, from the order
of the Templars.
25
Also in Narbonne Jews were apporently engaged in frequent business
transactions with the Templars, and already in the twelfth century Jews there
who were tenant-holders of vineyards, etc., found these being given to the
Templars, and also Jews who were seignorial owners of such lands confirmed
their transfer to the Templars. In the thirteenth century, some Provençal Jews
also became tenants of land owned by the Templars and Jews of Narbonne
sold land to the Templars.
26
The accusations of heresy and various vices, financial and sexual, against
the Templars in the thirteenth century are well known. This did not fail to
Ibn Adret was born; cf. also ibid., p. 41 (bottom) and p. 46, No. 55. It was more likely a later Ramon
de Montcada, referred to ibid., p. 123, No. 112, ca. 1250-1276. If the document cited by Régné, His-
tory, No. 809 is correctly transcribed, the master of the Templars in 1280 was P[edro] de Montcada
(he was master from 1279 to 1282, and was the younger son of Ramon; cf. Forey, Templars, p. 311);
and cf. the document of the complaint of the Templars and Ramon de Montcada in 1283 concerning
unfair taxes imposed on the Jews of Tortosa by the Jewish community of Barcelona, ibid., No. 1058.
20
 Ibn Adret, Solomon. She’elot u-teshuvot 4, No. 260 (Vilnius, 1881; photo rpt. Jerusalem, 1976,
vol. 3).
21
 Forey, Templars, p. 405, No. XXXIV.
22
 Forey, Templars, p. 143.
23
 Régné, History, No. 2711. Full text in Vendrell Gallostra, “Aportaciones”,142.
24
 See also Baer, Juden 1: 116; however, his belief that “Cavalleria” refers to the family’s relation
with the Templars, while possible, is uncertain.
25
 Baer, Juden 1: 116. In the index, Baer said that the name should be Cecrini (i.e., Secrino, as in
Régné); for the name, see “Zecri, Cecri, [Heb.] Zakhriy” in the index to Baer.
26
 Saige, Juifs, Nos. II-IV, X, XXI, XXII, XXVIII-XXXI, etc.
TEMPLARS AND THE JEWS IN CATALONIA
Iberia Judaica IV (2013) 147-151
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affect the order in Spain, either. Dissolved by the pope, the Templars never-
theless resisted, especially in Aragón, and held out in the castle of Monzón
until 1309. This, of course, affected the Jews as well. In January of that year,
Jaime II was informed that the Jews had moved from Monzón to Alcolea and
the king permitted them to retain possession of their property in Monzón as
well as all debts due to them there.
27
After the conquest of Monzón, the Jews
were allowed to return. In 1313, the king was informed of the many losses
and damages to property suffered by the Jews during the siege of the castle
and exempted them from taxes, and in 1315 exempted them from seizure of
their wine for debts.
28
Hopefully, further investigation will bring to light more information con-
cerning relations between the Jews and the Templars in the kingdom.
Bibliography
BAER, Fritz (Yitzhak), ed., Die Juden im christlichen Spanien (Berlin, 1929-36),
2 vols.
BOFARULL Y SANS, Francisco, ed., “Jaime I y los Judíos”, Congreso de Historia de la
Corona de Aragón I, 2 (1909-13), pp. 819-43.
CAMPILLO Y CASAMOR, Toribio del, ed. Documentos Históricos de Daroca y su Co-
munidad (Zaragoza, 1915).
FOREY, Alan J. The Templars in the Corona de Aragón (London, 1973).
MIRET I SANS, Joaquim. Itinerari de Jaume I “el Conqueridor” (Barcelona, 1918).
— “Documens per l’Historia de la Llengua Catalana”, Boletín de la Real Academia de
Buenas Letras de Barcelona 8 (1915): 372-85.
RÉGNÉ, Jean. History of the Jews in Aragon [-Catalonia]. Regesta and documents
1213-1327, ed. Yom Tov Assis (Jerusalem, 1978).
ROMANO, David. Judíos al Servicio de Pedro el Grande (Barcelona, 1983).
SAIGE, Gustave. Les Juifs de Languedoc (Paris, 1881).
SHIDELER, John C. A Medieval Catalan Noble Family: the Montcadas (University of
California, 1993).
VENDRELL GALLOSTRA, Francisca. “Aportaciones Para el Estudio de la Familia Caba-
llería”, Sefarad 3 (1943): 115-54.
27
 Régné, History, No. 2890. On the background of the Templar affair, see, e.g., Vicente de la
Fuente, Historia Eclesiástica de España (Madrid, 1873-75) 2: 367 ff. Alan Forey, The Fall of the
Templars in the Crown of Aragon (Ashgate, 2001), 59, incorrectly stated that the Jews were expelled
from Monzón “when the Templars fortified the Jewish quarter there”. He cited Régné, loc. cit., but
of course there is nothing like that there. Other than this erroneous information, there is no mention
of Jews in that book.
28
 Régné, ibid., No. 3014; cf. also No. 3029.