I’ve been reading Yom Tov Assis’ books about the Jews of Aragon (for Gabriel’s orals: The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry and Jewish Economy in the Medieval Crown of Aragon).
On the one hand, he describes the period 1210-1327 as a Golden Age for the Jews. On the other hand, he presents it as a time of extreme tension and social unrest, building all the time to the doom of 1391-1492 (1391: the Church really gets stuck into the Jews. 1492: expulsion of the Jews from Spain).
His basic project is to do a systemic survey of the materials in civil sources e.g. court archives and Jewish sources e.g. responsa literature of the Rashba, the Ritva, the Ramban, the Ran, etc., and the two books are the pictures he paints with them – one economic, the other more social.
He reminds us at several points that we tend to have documentary evidence for when things go wrong, not for when they go right. He is also aware that his data is rather extensively based in tax records, so his picture is necessarily rather weighted towards matters financial.
So, here’s the picture I have from Assis:
CHRISTIANS, rampaging at the gates: Let’s kill the Jews!
KING: Hell no! MY JEWS OK
KING: Spare a tenner till Tuesday?
JEWS: *tinkle tinkle clink* (that is the sound of a cash cow being milked)
CHRISTIANS: *disperse grumbling*
JEWS: Truly, this a golden age!