Sultan Bayezid II Wellcomes Jewish Refugees from Spain

Signature of Bayezid II
Signature of Bayezid II

In response to the Alhambra Decree, expelling the Jews from Spain by July 31, 1492,  Sultan Bayezid II sent the Ottoman navy under the command of Kemal Reis to Spain in order to save Jews who were expelled.

"He sent out proclamations throughout the empire that the refugees were to be welcomed. He granted the refugees the permission to settle in the Ottoman Empire and become Ottoman citizens. He ridiculed the conduct of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in expelling a class of people so useful to their subjects. 'You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler,' he said to his courtiers — 'he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!' Bajazet addressed a firman to all the governors of his European provinces, ordering them not only to refrain from repelling the Spanish refugees, but to give them a friendly and welcome reception. He threatened with death all those who treated the Jews harshly or refused them admission into the empire. Moses Capsali, [Chief Rabbi of the Ottoman Empire], who probably helped to arouse the sultan's friendship for the Jews, was most energetic in his assistance to the exiles. He made a tour of the communities, and was instrumental in imposing a tax upon the rich, to ransom the Jewish victims of the persecutions then prevalent" (Wikipedia article on Bayezid II, accessed 09-12-2009).

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