The 1066 Granada massacre took place on 30 December 1066 (9 Tevet 4827; 10 Safar 459 AH) when a Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, in the Taifa of Granada, crucified the Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela, and massacred much of the Jewish population of the city.
Joseph ibn Naghrela, or Joseph ha-Nagid (Hebrew: רבי יהוסף בן שמואל הלוי הנגיד Ribbi Yehosef ben Shemu'el ha-Lewi ha-Nagid; Arabic: ابو حسين بن النغريلة Abu Hussein bin Naghrela) (15 September 1035 – 30 December 1066), was a vizier to the Berber king Badis al-Muzaffar of Granada, during the Moorish rule of Andalusia, and the leader of the Jewish community there.
Joseph was born in Granada, the eldest son of Rabbi and famous poet and warrior Sh'muel ha-Nagid.
Some information about his childhood and upbringing is preserved in the collection of his father's Hebrew poetry in which Joseph writes that he began copying at the age of eight and a half. For example, he tells how once (at nine and a half, in the spring of 1045) he accompanied his father to the battlefield, only to suffer from severe homesickness, about which he wrote a short poem.
His primary school teacher was his father. On the basis of a letter to Rabbi Nissim Gaon attributed to him, in which Joseph refers to himself as R' Nissim's disciple, it is possible to infer that he also studied under R' Nissim at Kairouan. In 1049, Joseph married R' Nissim's daughter. :xix
On R' Shmuel's death, Joseph succeeded him as vizier and rabbi, directing at the same time an important yeshiva. Among his students were Rabbi Isaac ben Baruch ibn Albalia and Rabbi Isaac ibn Ghayyat.
Rabbi Abraham ibn Daud describes Joseph in highly laudatory terms, saying that he lacked none of his father's good qualities, except that he was not quite as humble, having been brought up in luxury.
The 1906 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia states, "Arabic chroniclers relate that he believed neither in the faith of his fathers nor in any other faith. It may also be doubted that he openly declared the principles of Islam to be absurd." Arabic poets also praised his liberality.
The Jewish Encyclopedia also reported that Joseph "completely ruled King Badis, who was nearly always drunk, and surrounded him with spies".
Muslim leaders accused him of several acts of violence, which drew upon him the hatred of the Berbers, the ruling majority at Granada. The most bitter among his many enemies was Abu Ishak of Elvira, who hoped to obtain an office at court and wrote a malicious poem against Joseph and his fellow Jews. The poem made little impression upon the king, who trusted Joseph implicitly, but it created a great sensation among the Berbers. A rumor spread to the effect that Joseph intended to kill Badis, deliver the realm into the hands of Al-Mutasim of Almería, with whom the king was at war, and then kill Al-Mutasim and seize the throne himself.
On 30 December 1066 (9 Tevet 4827), Muslim mobs stormed the royal palace where Joseph had sought refuge, then crucified him. In the ensuing massacre of the Jewish population, many of the Jews of Granada were murdered. The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia claims, "More than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day." However, the 1971 edition does not give precise casualty figures, while the Encyclopaedia Judaica confirms the figures : « According to a later testimony, “more than 1,500 householders” were killed. »
Joseph's wife fled to Lucena with her son Azariah, where she was supported by the community. Azariah, however, died in early youth.
Particularly instructive in this respect is an ancient anti-Semitic poem of Abu Ishaq, written in Granada in 1066. This poem, which is said to be instrumental in provoking the anti-Jewish outbreak of that year, contains these specific lines:
- Do not consider it a breach of faith to kill them, the breach of faith would be to let them carry on.
- They have violated our covenant with them, so how can you be held guilty against the violators?
- How can they have any pact when we are obscure and they are prominent?
- Now we are humble, beside them, as if we were wrong and they were right!
Lewis continues: "Diatribes such as Abu Ishaq's and massacres such as that in Granada in 1066 are of rare occurrence in Islamic history."
The episode has been characterized as a pogrom. Walter Laqueur writes, "Jews could not as a rule attain public office (as usual there were exceptions), and there were occasional pogroms, such as in Granada in 1066."
Erika Spivakovsky questions the death rate, suspecting it to be an example of "the usual hyperbole in numerical estimates, with which history abounds."