GET OUT: Where did the expelled Jews of Spain go once being forced out at the hands of the Xtians
How Jews lived under the Turks.
By Eli Barnavi
The Ottoman Empire emerged as a great political and military power in the early 14th century—but only in the wake of the expulsion of the Jews of Spain did the Ottoman Empire become a Jewish center. Tens of thousands of Jewish refugees from the Iberian peninsula made Salonika, Constantinople and other cities of the Ottoman Empire their new home, bringing with them the latest European developments in technology, medicine and artisanry.
However, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Ottoman Empire and its Jewish community entered a period of decline that would continue until the “sick man of Europe,” as the Ottoman Empire came to be known, met its demise after World War I. The following article is reprinted with permission from Eli Barnavi’s A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People, published by Schocken Books.
The Ottomans began to emerge as a great political and military power from the early fourteenth century. Uthman, founder of a dynasty, came from a small Turkish principality, which in time grew into a vast empire. The swords of his successors brought to an end the centuries‑long Greek influence in the south of the Mediterranean basin, replacing it with Muslim domination. Extending deep into the European continent, Ottoman expansion turned Vienna into an outpost of Christendom.
The Greek‑speaking Jewish communities, which the immigrants from Spain and Portugal later called “Romaniots” or “Gregos,” were all under Ottoman rule at the time of the fall of Constantinople–renamed Istanbul–in 1453. The Arabic‑speaking Jews (“Mustarabs” in the idiom of the Iberian refugees), were the other important indigenous group.
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