Una elecció de secretaris de l'aljama de jueus de Cervera en 1485


  • Josep Maria Llobet i Portella


While documentation related to the Jews who inhabited Cervera for centuries is in abundant supply, texts that shed light on the internal running of the Jewish aljama are rather scarce. Recently, however, such a text has been unearthed. Written in Catalan on Saturday 23 July 1485, it consists of the minutes of a meeting and records the election of the two secretaries of the aljama, plus that of another person, referred to as the “third party”, who would be required to intervene in the process of choosing councillors in the event of any disagreement between the two secretaries.

According to the document, a transcript of which is provided at the end of the article, the electoral procedure was as described below.

On the aforementioned date, a meeting took place in the school in Cervera's upper Jewish quarter (the usual venue for such activities). The Jews in attendance were Mossé de Quercí and Benvenist Sullam, in their capacity as secretaries; the doctor Cresques Adret, the doctor Issac de Quercí, the doctor Jucef Cavaller, Jucef Baró Creixent, Bonjuà Adret, Bonet Bellshom and Issac Samuel Sullam, in their capacity as councillors; and the doctor Samuel Cavaller, Jafudà de Quercí and the doctor Jacob de Quercí, in their capacity as three of the largest landowners and, consequently, three of the highest taxpayers.

First of all, they swore an oath, one after another, whilst touching a text containing the Ten Commandments, in the hope that they would choose wisely when electing two secretaries from among the Jews of Cervera's aljama. Voting was conducted in secret. Jucef Cavaller was elected as one of the secretaries by virtue of receiving the greatest number of votes, while there was a tie between Issac de Quercí and Bonjuà Adret for the second secretary's post. Votes were cast again to decide between the two. At this time of asking, Issac de Quercí received the most votes and was thus elected secretary.

The two elected secretaries, Jucef Cavaller and Issac de Quercí, subsequently swore an oath, whilst touching the scroll, to govern the aljama in a fitting manner, to act in its best interests and to protect the privileges it had been granted by various monarchs over the course of time.

With the two new secretaries having been elected and sworn in, the outgoing secretaries, Mossé de Quercí and Benvenist Sullam, designated five Jews from among the largest landowners and highest taxpayers, specifically the three mentioned earlier (Jafudà de Quercí, Samuel Cavaller and Jacob de Quercí) plus Mossé de Quercí and Mossé Sullam de Saporta.

Next, the two secretaries (presumably the outgoing secretaries), the seven councillors and five of the largest landowners swore the usual oath and elected the “third party”, i.e. the person who would intervene in the councillor selection process in the event of the two secretaries failing to reach an agreement. Jafudà de Quercí received the greatest number of votes and was elected to the post.

The content of the document ends at this point. It appears that the councillors were chosen at a later date. By way of conclusion, it can be said that the text described herein (a transcript of which is provided) is of great interest in that it reveals how the secretaries of Cervera's Jewish aljama were elected in the final period of its existence. A mere seven years later, royal orders would lead to the aljama vanishing forever, along with all the others on the Iberian peninsula.