1066 Granada massacre

Coordinates: 37°10′37″N 3°35′24″W / 37.17694°N 3.59000°W / 37.17694; -3.59000
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37°10′37″N 3°35′24″W / 37.17694°N 3.59000°W / 37.17694; -3.59000

The 1066 Granada massacre took place on 30 December 1066 (9 Tevet 4827; 10 Safar 459 AH) when a Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, in the Taifa of Granada,[1] killed and crucified[2] the Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela, and massacred much of the Jewish population of the city.[3][4]

Joseph ibn Naghrela[edit]

Joseph ibn Naghrela, or Joseph ha-Nagid (Hebrew: רבי יהוסף בן שמואל הלוי הנגיד Ribbi Yehosef ben Shemu'el ha-Lewi ha-Nagid; Arabic: ابو حسين بن النغريلة Abu Hussein bin Naghrela) (15 September 1035[5] – 30 December 1066), was a vizier to the Berber monarch Badis ibn Habus, king of the Taifa of Granada, during the Moorish rule of al-Andalus, and the nagid or leader of the Iberian Jews.[6]

Life and career[edit]

Joseph was born in Granada, the eldest son of Rabbi and famous poet and warrior Samuel ibn Naghrillah.

Some information about his childhood and upbringing is preserved in the collection of his father's Hebrew poetry in which Joseph writes[5] that he began copying at the age of eight and a half. For example, he tells how once (at nine and a half, in the spring of 1045) he accompanied his father to the battlefield, only to suffer from severe homesickness, about which he wrote a short poem.[7]

His primary school teacher was his father. On the basis of a letter to Nissim ben Jacob attributed to him,[8] in which Joseph refers to himself as Nissim's disciple, it is possible to infer that he also studied under Nissim at Kairouan.[9] In 1049, Joseph married Nissim's daughter.[10] : xix 

After the death of his father in 1056,[11] Joseph succeeded him as vizier and rabbi, directing at the same time an important yeshiva. Among his students were Isaac Albalia and Isaac ibn Ghiyyat. Joseph launched into a series of backfired intrigues, mishandled and misjudged situations, resulting in the kingdom sliding into crisis.[6]


Abraham ibn Daud describes Joseph in highly laudatory terms, saying that he lacked none of his father's good qualities, except that he was not quite as humble, having been brought up in luxury.[12]

The 1906 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia states, "Arabic chroniclers relate that he believed neither in the faith of his fathers nor in any other faith."[13] Arabic poets also praised his liberality.[2]

The most bitter among his many enemies was Abu Ishak of Elvira, who hoped to obtain an office at court and wrote a malicious poem against Joseph and his fellow Jews.[14] The poem made little impression upon the king, who trusted Joseph implicitly, but it created a great sensation among the Berbers.


In hopes of attaining his father's dream,[clarification needed] Joseph sent messengers to Al-Mutasim ibn Sumadih the ruler of the neighboring Taifa of Almería, a traditional enemy of Granada. He promised to open the gates of the city to Al-Mutasim's army if he promised to install Joseph as king in exchange for his submission and allegiance. At the last moment, Al-Mutasim pulled out, and on the eve of the supposed invasion, word of the plot got out. When word reached the populace, Berbers claimed that Joseph intended to kill Badis and was about to betray the kingdom.[6]

On 30 December 1066 (9 Tevet 4827), Muslim mobs stormed the royal palace where Joseph had sought refuge.[15] The Jewish Encyclopaedia (1906) states Joseph was "hiding in a coal-pit, and having blackened his face so as to make himself unrecognizable. He was, however, discovered and killed, and his body was hanged on a cross."[2] In the ensuing massacre of the Jewish population, many Jews of Granada were murdered. The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia claims that "More than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day."[16] However the 1971 edition does not give precise casualty figures.[17] That was possibly because the accounts of the massacre could not be verified, and as over 900 years had passed, it was subject to hyperbole.[15][18] The Encyclopaedia Judaica also confirms the figures : "According to a later testimony,[19] "more than 1,500 householders" were killed".[20]

Joseph's wife fled to Lucena, Córdoba, with her son Azariah, where she was supported by the community. Azariah, however, died in early youth.

According to the historian Bernard Lewis, the massacre is "usually ascribed to a reaction among the Muslim population against a powerful and ostentatious Jewish vizier".[21]

Lewis writes:

Particularly instructive in this respect is an ancient anti-Jewish poem of Abu Ishaq, written in Granada in 1066. This poem, which is said to be instrumental in provoking the anti-Jewish outbreak of that year, contains these specific lines:

Do not consider it a breach of faith to kill them, the breach of faith would be to let them carry on.
They have violated our covenant with them, so how can you be held guilty against the violators?
How can they have any pact when we are obscure and they are prominent?
Now we are humble, beside them, as if we were wrong and they were right![22]

Lewis continues: "Diatribes such as Abu Ishaq's and massacres such as that in Granada in 1066 are of rare occurrence in Islamic history".[22]

The episode has been characterized as a pogrom. Walter Laqueur writes, "Jews could not as a rule attain public office (as usual there were exceptions), and there were occasional pogroms, such as in Granada in 1066".[23]

See also[edit]


  • Constable, Olivia Remie, Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-812-22168-8


  1. ^ Molins 2010, p. 34.
  2. ^ a b c Nagdela (Nagrela), Abu Husain Joseph Ibn by Richard Gottheil, Meyer Kayserling, Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906 ed.
  3. ^ Lucien Gubbay (1999). Sunlight and Shadow: The Jewish Experience of Islam. New York: Other Press. p. 80. ISBN 1-892746-69-7.
  4. ^ Norman Roth (1994). Jews, Visigoths, and Muslims in Medieval Spain: Cooperation and Conflict. Netherlands: E. J. Brill. p. 110. ISBN 90-04-09971-9.
  5. ^ a b In his preface to one of his father's collections of Hebrew poetry, Joseph gives his precise date and time of birth as Monday evening, the evening preceding the 11th of Tishrei 4796 AM, corresponding to the 11th of Dhu al-Qi'dah 426 AH, at 3 hours 56 minutes into the evening. (Diwan of Shemuel Hannaghid, ed. David S. Sassoon (London: Oxford University Press, 1934), p. א.)
  6. ^ a b c CATLOS, BRIAN A. (2014). "Accursed, Superior Men: Ethno-Religious Minorities and Politics in the Medieval Mediterranean". Comparative Studies in Society and History. 56 (4): 844–869. doi:10.1017/S0010417514000425. ISSN 0010-4175. JSTOR 43908317. S2CID 145603557.
  7. ^ Diwan of Shemuel Hannaghid, ed. David S. Sassoon (London: Oxford University Press, 1934, page סב
  8. ^ Published in Otzar Tov, 1881–82, pp. 45ff.
  9. ^ Diwan, p. xxiii.
  10. ^ Davidson, Israel (1924). Selected Religious Poems of Solomon ibn Gabirol. Schiff Library of Jewish Classics. Translated by Zangwill, Israel. Philadelphia: JPS. p. 247. ISBN 0-8276-0060-7. LCCN 73-2210.
  11. ^ Constable, Olivia R., ed. (1997). Medieval Iberia. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812215694.
  12. ^ Sefer ha-Kabbalah ([1]), p. 73.
  13. ^ Dozy, "Geschichte der Mauren in Spanien," ii. 301
  14. ^ lawrencebush (30 December 2012). "30 December: The Granada Massacre". Jewish Currents. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  15. ^ a b Tonin, Sarah (31 December 2017). "The 1066 Granada Massacre". Horror History .net. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  16. ^ Granada by Richard Gottheil, Meyer Kayserling, Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906 ed.
  17. ^ 1971 Jewish Encyclopedia
  18. ^ Erika Spivakovsky (1971). "The Jewish presence in Granada". Journal of Medieval History. 2 (3): 215–238. doi:10.1016/0304-4181(76)90021-x.
  19. ^ Solomon ibn Verga, Shevet Yehudah, ed. A. Shochat (1947), p. 22.
  20. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2007, vol. 8, p. 32.
  21. ^ Lewis, Bernard (1987) [1984]. The Jews of Islam. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-691-00807-3. LCCN 84042575. OCLC 17588445.
  22. ^ a b Lewis, Bernard (1987) [1984]. The Jews of Islam. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-0-691-00807-3. LCCN 84042575. OCLC 17588445.
  23. ^ Laqueur, Walter (2006). The changing face of antisemitism: from ancient times to the present day. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-19-530429-9. LCCN 2005030491. OCLC 62127914.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)