Maya Soifer Irish

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Dr. Maya Soifer Irish’s research focuses on religious violence and toleration, and investigates the legal, social, and economic situation of religious minorities in Iberian Christian societies.

Her first book, Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change, was published in 2016 by The Catholic University of America Press.  It explores the changes in Jewish-Christian relations in the Iberian kingdom of Castile during the pivotal period of the "reconquest" and the hundred years that followed the end of its most active phase (eleventh to mid-fourteenth century).  Focusing especially on the Christian heartland north of the Duero River, known as Old Castile, the book offers a detailed investigation of the Jews' changing relations with the monarchy, the church, and the towns.

She is currently working on a new book, The Politics of Persecution in Medieval Spain: Toward the Anti-Jewish Riots of 1391, which explores the path to the worst outbreak of anti-Jewish violence on the Iberian soil. As it examines Christians’ treatment of the Jewish community in Seville – the epicenter of the riots – in the decades preceding the massacres, the book shows that the persecution of Jews in medieval Castile evolved in local contexts: in towns and villages where local authorities manipulated and fueled anti-Jewish grievances to pursue their short-term political goals.

Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Medieval History, Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, Medieval Encounters, Sefarad, and many edited volumes. In 2019, she held a Fellowship at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies (University of Michigan). She has served as President of the Fourteenth Century Society, President of the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain, and President of the Texas Medieval Association.

Selected Publications: 

  • "Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change."

  • "Toward 1391: The anti-Jewish preaching of Ferran Martinez in Seville." Ed. Johnathan Adams and Cordelia Hess. The Medieval Roots of Antisemitism: Continuities and Discontinuities From the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Routledge, 2018, 306-319

  • Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2016).

  • “The Problem of Old Debts: Jewish Moneylenders in Northern Castile (Belorado and Miranda de Ebro, ca. 1300).”  Sefarad 74 (2), 2014, 279-303.

  • “Tamquam domino proprio: Contesting Ecclesiastical Lordship Over Jews in Thirteenth-Century Castile.”  Medieval Encounters 19 (2013), 534-566.

  • “The Castilian Monarchy and the Jews (11th to 13th Century).” Ed. Katherine L. Jansen, G. Geltner, and Anne E. Lester. Center and Periphery: Studies on Power in the Medieval World in Honor of William Chester Jordan. Leiden: Brill, 2013, 39-49.

  • “Beyond Convivencia: Critical Reflections on the Historiography of Interfaith Relations in Christian Spain.”  Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, January 2009.

  • ““You say that the Messiah has come...’: the Ceuta Disputation(1179) and Its Place in Christian Anti-Jewish Polemics of the High MiddleAges.”  The Journal of Medieval History, September 2005.

Research Areas

Medieval Europe, Medieval Iberia, Mediterranean history, Jewish history, Antisemitism, Medieval Borderlands


PhD, Princeton University

MA, University of Colorado

BA, University of Colorado

Societies & Organizations

Medieval Academy of America

American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain

American Historical Association

The Fourteenth Century Society

Texas Medieval Association

Texas Jewish Studies Research Triangle

Honors & Awards

Andrew Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies

Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities

Fellowship at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Michigan


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