The expulsion of the Jews
Starting in 1412, a royal ordinance forced Jews, who had lived for more than ten centuries in the midst of the Castilian people, to remain confined to ghettos. It further forbade them to carry out a number public charges, such as selling meat. The case against them sought to represent them as a threat to the majority of the population. Jews had supposedly attempted to tear Catholics away from their faith, teaching them ceremonies and observance of the Mosaic Law and traditions drawn from it (circumcisions, fast, festivals such as Passover). They might bring them some matzo or meat from ritually slaughtered animals, indicating the prohibitions they wished to observe especially regarding food, or even raise doctrinal points.
The expulsion of the Jews happened at one fell swoop. The Alhambra Decree,published on 31 March 1492, bid the Jews from Castile and Aragon choose between conversion and exile with no possibility of return under pain of death. The Catholic Monarchs would allow them until the 31 August of the same year to sell their possessions. Contrary to royal expectations, the majority chose to leave the country heading for the Maghreb, Southern Europe (Portugal, for a short period, Italy) and the Ottoman Empire where Sultan Bayezid II offered to take them in. Ranging from 40,000 to over one million, the figures quoted in order to quantify the exodus, have been subject to debate. The majority of contemporary historians estimate at between 150 and 200,000 their true number, but a minority, including Spanish historian L. Suarez, offer a figure of 100,000.