Kings and conversion in the thirteenth century: Where politics and religion meet?

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The historiography of the last century has portrayed the public disputations of the thirteenth century (in Paris and in Barcelona) as conversionary in purpose. Yet, an examination of the disputations in a broader setting suggests that they have much to do with royal policy regarding the Jews, the establishment of the university in Paris, and the rise of the mendicant orders. The extant texts, in Latin and Hebrew, show that the purpose of the disputations was different and relect very different attitudes towards the Jews in France as opposed to the Crown of Aragon. Because of royal policy, the Jews of the Crown of Aragon did not in fact face conversionary pressure, as can be seen from Nahmanides’s literary depiction of the Barcelona disputation. But in contrast the texts describing events in Paris (both in the 1240s and the early 1270s) relect royal policy towards the Jews including pressure to convert. Hence, the way royalty is written about by the Hebrew witnesses to the disputations relects very different realities of the Jewish communities in France and the Crown of Aragon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-247
Number of pages21
JournalArchives de Sciences Sociales des Religions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Barcelona
  • Conversion
  • Disputation
  • Dominicans
  • Jews
  • Paris
  • Royal policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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