The Alhambra Decree
Today, Ferdinand and Isabella are best remembered for commissioning Christopher Columbus to search for a western trade route to the Orient. On August 3, 1492, the Genovese mariner set sail from Spain, but his royal backers had issued the Edict of Expulsion, often known as the Alhambra Decree, demanding “all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be” to either accept baptism and conversion to Christianity or leave the nation.
Throughout the fifteenth century, a fresh wave of anti-Semitism had been simmering. Many Spanish Jews converted to Christianity in order to evade persecution and participate in forbidden activities. The Conversos did well in business and in universities as a group, but their success fostered resentment and fury.