Release: The Inquisition, Jewish History, and the Spanish Monarchs

The Raab Collection announced today that it has acquired and will offer for sale a document signed by the Spanish Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, during the Inquisition, confirming the sentence of a converted Jew to burn, and seizing his land to give to a neighboring monastery.   This document, which sold in 1965 at public auction, uses the very language of the Inquisition, and is valued at $65,000.

Read an in-depth historical description

“It is very rare to find a document directly relating to the Inquisition and burning at the stake of a Jewish convert,” said Nathan Raab, author of The Hunt for History (Scribner, 2020). “In all our decades in the field, this is the first we have ever had.”

The Document, August 31, 1485

Ferdinand and Isabella Demonstrate the Primary Goal of the Inquisition, Confirming the Sentence of a Converted Jew to Being Burned at the Stake, and Seizing His Land for the Use of Their New Royal Monastery, Which Still Exists and Sits on the Same Land in the Hills Outside Cordoba

This document names the receiver of goods of the condemned and twice uses the phraseology of the Inquisition: “heretical depravity”

“We have been informed that Alfonso de Baeza, neighbor of the town of Cordova, has been condemned by penalty of fire for the crime of Heretical Depravity, for which all his belongings were and are confiscated to be used by our royal house…”

It is also signed by perhaps the most famous Converso [converted Jew] at their court, the scribe to the Monarchs, Alfonso de Avila

About Raab & The Hunt for History: In 2020 (hardcover) and 2021 (paperback), Scribner published Nathan’s fascinating book about the rarified world of discovering and dealing in historical documents – THE HUNT FOR HISTORY: On the Trail of the World’s Lost Treasures—from the Letters of Lincoln, Churchill, and Einstein to the Secret Recordings Onboard JFK’s Air Force One. In the book by Nathan, whom Library Journal has compared to the Indiana Jones of historical document hunting, he shares amazing stories from the families and institutions who’ve called on him to sell, or authenticate, rare and revelatory letters that will often fetch high prices. Among these stories: powerful letters of President Reagan to his daughter, pleading for family unity; the discovery of an early version of the JFK assassination tapes with 40 minutes of new information; Theodore Roosevelt’s letter home from Yellowstone to his young son, who would die in World War I.

Raab has worked with the families of many great historical figures on the treasures that have descended to them, including Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James K. Polk, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, Gerald Ford, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, senior leadership in the Civil War, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It has worked to bring to the market many unpublished historical archives from all over the world.

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