Blood Libel

by M Lynes

Seville 1495: ISSAC ALVAREZ, a lawyer employed by the Royal estate, and his family are conversos: Jewish converts to Catholicism. Isaac hides his true faith because Jews are persecuted. The Inquisition is determined to identify and execute heretics, particularly insincere converts. Seville is protected from the Inquisition by King Ferdinand.

A child is brutally murdered. Isaac witnesses the arrest of his lifelong friend, JUAN, as a suspect. Isaac does nothing to help him. FATHER ALONSO, the right-hand man of the Grand Inquisitor, TOMAS DE TORQEMADA, claims Jews committed the murder to ritually use their blood: the blood libel. Alonso uses the blood libel to persuade Queen Isabella to allow the Inquisition to operate in Seville. An Edict invites citizens to relieve their consciences by denouncing their neighbours’, friends’, and family’s heresies. Punishment is torture and burning at the stake. Isaac believes the only hope to save his family and protect his faith is to discover the true identity of the child murderer and disprove the blood libel. He resists this course of action.

Tensions rise. Isaac’s wife MARIA asks him not to attend covert Jewish prayer meetings. His daughter, ISABEL, accuses him of hypocrisy. Their maidservant CATALINA appears to conspire with Alonso. Juan’s wife blackmails both Isaac and Maria and expects them to use their influence with the king to free Juan. The family secretly leave Seville; Isaac remains to fight for his faith. The family is captured, and Maria dies under interrogation by Torquemada. She writes a letter to Isabel telling her how to save herself and her brother.

Isaac finally acts to find the child murderer. Under protection from the king he works with a group of friends to arrest him. Isabel is abducted by Alonso who confesses to her that he suborned the murder. He tries to commit suicide but is captured by Isaac. In a risky move Isaac reveals all to the king and queen. Alonso, wracked by guilt, admits he arranged the murder and propagated the blood libel in order to bring the Inquisition to Seville. Isaac becomes chief adviser to the king; Torquemada’s power is reduced, and Alonso is exiled to the Indies. Isabel reveals to Isaac her mother’s final words.

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Category: Mystery – Historical