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Bishoprics and monasteries in many parts of Western Christendom possessed various combinations of jurisdictional and fiscal rights over Jewish communities. Prelates placed high value on their rights as the Jews’ temporal lords for the same reason secular rulers did: having Jews under one’s protection brought substantial benefits. Yet, with the growth of lay institutions—royal as well as communal—many of these prelates found their jurisdictional rights disputed by secular powers eager to wrest control over Jewish communities from the church. Anchoring the argument in two case studies from Northern Spain (Sahagun and Palencia, in Castile), the present study suggests that of far greater concern to local ecclesiastical leadership than any ideological program directed at the Jews was the growing competition for Jewish services and revenues between church authorities, royal governments, and municipal councils.

In: Medieval Encounters