"Thrown to the Ground." The Chrisitan Appropriation, Destruction and Conversion of Synagogues in Iberia between the 14th and 16th Centuries
The overarching research interest that underlies my dissertation project is the conversion of sacred space of one religious community by another, for example in the case of conquest or persecution. In my doctoral thesis, I particularly concentrate on the conquest, conversion, and destruction of Jewish sacred space by Christians on the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages. Numerous examples of this are known to this day, whereby in about fifty percent of the cases known today a sacral conversion of the Jewish space took place; synagogues were converted here into chapels, churches, cathedrals, monasteries and buildings belonging to places of worship, or the synagogue was demolished in favour of a new sacral building. The project is concerned with the interests at a political, economic, and religious level that motivated these conversions and asks to what extent the investigation of these interests can be understood as a reflection of the Jewish-Christian relationship on the aforementioned levels at the time. To this end, in my work I look at Christian-Jewish life and relations before, during and after the conversions at the respective places of action and examine the individual steps of the conversion as well as their reception. A significant increase in the number of synagogue conversions on the Iberian Peninsula can be observed at the end of the fourtheenth and beginning of the fifteenth century: In 1391-92 there were pogroms of Jews in the Kingdom of Castile-León and Aragon, which resulted in many synagogue conversions, and the same happened during and after the Disputation of Tortosa 1413-14 in about the same regions. These conversions shall serve as examples for my research; starting point are churches (that were former synagogues) in Sevilla and Toledo. A look at earlier and later synagogue conversions as well as at the conversion of mosques, for which there are just as many examples on the Iberian Peninsula, should also enable me to think about the general phenomenon of conquest, destruction and conversion of the sacred space of 'the Others', as can be found again and again across epochs, religions and regions.