1492 — The Alhambra Decree expels the Jews from Spain

The Catholic Monarchs of Spain – Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon – decided, no doubt in close consultation with members of the clergy, that ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and its territories and possessions by 31 July of 1492 (i.e. in a period of 3 months) was a good idea. The Alhambra Decree, or Edict of Expulsion, was duly made, keeping Spain among the fashionable kingdoms of Europe (expelling Jews was very much in vogue at that time).

It is unclear just how many Jews left Spain (most of them for North Africa or the Ottoman Empire), but estimates place the number between one and two hundred thousand, with another 50,000 or so converting to Catholicism to remain in Spain. Many thousands of Jews were died trying to leave Spain – murdered by brigands who wanted their wealth, betrayed by Spanish mariners (who overcharged them for passage and in some cases dumped them overboard to drown), or executed for remaining after the deadline without converting.

The Decree remained officially in force until Vatican Council II in 1968, and post-Franco Spain has pursued a policy of reconciliation with the descendents of expelled Jews (who now have the legal right to claim Spanish citizenship without satisfying the normal inhabitancy requirements).

Referenced in:

Tomas De Torquemada — Down I Go

1492 – The Alhambra Decree’s deadline expires

Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon were the joint monarchs of their two kingdoms, and both staunch Catholics, when they issued the Alhambra Decree on March 31, 1492. It required all Jews to remove themselves – or be expelled by force – from the territories claimed by Aragon and Castille. It did leave a loophole, though – a sincere conversion to Catholicism and abandonment of the Jewish faith would permit these Jews to stay.

Few took advantage of the loophole, and of those who did, many practiced only the forms of the Catholic faith, continuing their Judaic practices in private. Of those who left, about half fled to Portugal, and most of the others wound up living in the cities of Salonika, Sarajevo, Izmir, Thessaloniniki or Constantinople, where the exiled Jews, who were predominately Sephardic, mingled with the Mizrahi Jews who already lived there. The Decree was eventually revoked… in 1968. (Yes, you read that right.)

Referenced in:
Harlem Renaissance — Immortal Technique

1492 – Christopher Columbus’ expedition sights land in the Americas

Columbus’ expedition to the Far East was going well. He left Spain on August 3, and by October 7, the expedition sighted a large flock of birds. Finally, a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (aboard the La Pinta) sighted land at about 2AM on October 12.

Columbus, being the shy, retiring flower that he was, later claimed that he had seen land first, which almost certainly had nothing to do with the reward of 10,000 maravedís. Columbus named the island San Salvador, although the resident indigenes had already named it Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos this corresponds to is an unresolved topic; prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, Grand Turk, or San Salvador Island (which was named San Salvador in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus’ San Salvador).

Referenced in:

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume — Moody Blues
Thanx But No Thanx — Ministry

1492 – Christoper Columbus sets sail

Columbus was not the brightest of navigators. His math regarding how far away Asia was by the western route was off by more than double the actual distance. In fact, he expected to sight land even earlier than he actually did, let alone that it was the wrong land. But he sailed out of Palos de la Frontera on the evening tide, leading his tiny fleet of three ships, and quite confident in his own abilities as captain and navigator. Whatever you may think of his mathematics, you cannot deny his courage.

In the course of his first voyage, when searching for Japan, he landed instead in the Bahamas a little over two months after leaving Spain, where he introduced the natives to such European specialities as Christianity, firearms and diseases they lacked immunities for.

Referenced in:

History Is Made By Stupid People — Arrogant Worms