Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Filios, Denise K

First Committee Member

Brian, Amber E

Second Committee Member

Martin-Estudillo, Luis

Third Committee Member

Moore, Michael E

Fourth Committee Member

Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Ana M


This research consists of three separate studies, which examine these texts in the order they were written, exploring the myriad cultural, political, religious and legal forces situated in the time and place where the texts were created to determine what forces may have influenced their authors in depicting the Jews the way they did. In the first study of the epic Poema de mio Cid, I focus on the legal quandary about whether the Cid should have repaid the two Jewish moneylenders from Burgos who gave him a loan for his military campaign. I examine the anti-Jewish canon and secular laws from this era, particularly those dealing with usury, and explore how the Castilian kings’ flouting of these laws created hostility and, in one telling instance, violent attacks against Jews from Christians who were angry about royal favoritism of the Jews. I compare the twelfth century attacks against an unpopular king and his royal property – the Jews – to the Cid’s deception of Raquel and Vidas, arguing the Campeador’s trick was also a way of inflicting harm on an unpopular king and his royal property, the Jews. I also examine the interrelationships between the increasingly hostile anti-Jewish laws and the Christian’s anti-Jewish social stances and attitudes, exploring how both the legal context and social and cultural contexts could have informed the poet in his portrayal of the two Jews in the text.

In the second study, I focused on the various Jewish messianic prophecies detailed in the writings of twelfth century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides that existed in Spain during the time the Toledan liturgical drama Auto de los reyes magos was written and performed to see if they may have influenced how the unknown author negatively depicted the Jewish rabbis and members of Herod’s court in the play’s final two highly original scenes. The portrayals of the Jews’ eschatological confusion, I show, may have been created to stop Jews, considered vital to Toledo’s growth and stability, from following contemporary messianic prophecies and migrating to the Holy Land.

In the final study, I focus on Gonzalo de Berceo’s caustic representations of Jews in Milagros de Nuestra Señora to determine if his harshly negative portrayals of Jews were a way to deflect attention from the papal-sanctioned clerical reforms that targeted heresy, including clerical abuses in the Benedictine Order, and caused Berceo’s beloved “black monks” to lose substantial funding and power in the Church. By portraying Jews and their behavior as real heresy and as the biggest threats to Christianity, Berceo underscores that clerical abuses and sins of the flesh are less problematic and pardonable.

Public Abstract

This study investigates the representations of Jews in three thirteenth – century Medieval Castilian works – Poema de mio Cid, the Auto de los reyes magos, both written by unknown authors, and Milagros de Nuestra Señora, written by Gonzalo de Berceo – and examines certain “time and place” cultural forces – canon and secular anti-usury laws coupled with perceived royal favoritism of Jews, contemporary Jewish messianic prophecies and Maimonidean rationalist thought, and finally, papal-sanctioned clerical reforms, respectively, that may have shaped each of the authors in his portrayal of the Jewish characters.


Anti-Semitism, Christian Literature, Jews, Spain, Thirteenth Century


vii, 179 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 168-179).


Copyright © 2017 James Steven Dyer