The Notarial Documents
Although there exist earlier references to similar papers, it would seem that it was in the year 2000 that an extensive cache of notarial documents was uncovered in the Cathedral recycled as covers for Cathedral volumes, "inside out " and used, no doubt, due to the high quality of the parchment.

I have not yet come across the theory that the documents were deliberately preserved in this way from pure historical motives.

In 2004 a very highly respected historian of Zaragoza University, M. A. Motis Dolader, published the second of two large volumes in Spanish, entitled "Los judios de Tarazona en el siglo XIV " dealing with this collection and covering 1,575 Notarial Protocols, - which is what those documents cosisted of.

These particular Protocols relate to only a relatively short period, from the 12th June 1300 to 20th December, 1418, and their main interest is thus to be found in the 1391 "Troubles " which were the forerunner to the Expulsion for it was after that earlier upheaval that so many Jews decided to convert but thereafter may have fallen down on their Catholic commitment, thus providing grounds and material for the Inquisition's purges.

During and after the 1391 upheavals themselves the Jewish community of Tarazona and of Aragon as a whole was relatively well protected by the Crown from physical attack and it is interesting to speculate if the conversions were not out of genuine gratitude or even a pre-agreed price for their safety.

Three particular items are brought here, in both the Spanish and with an appalling English translation of my own for which I take absolutely no responsibility - apologies - just as tasters. These items have been selected, in part, because at least one of them tends to evidence matters raised in the converso section below, - a blatant case of Special Pleading but that's author's privilege :

** Protocol No. 1489 - 15/03/1415 :
Levi Panplones, judio, vecino de Tarazona, recibe de Maria de Estorgo, mujer
de Pero Ximeno de la Figuera, vecino de la ciudad, la tercera parte de una carta
de comanda, la cual su progenitor, Diago de Estorga, difunto, le adeudaba. "Et
porque yo, dito Levi, haver recebido de vos Maria, assi como heredera de
vuestro padre, la tercera parte de la quantia del ditto contracto de comanda,
quiero e atorgo que vos ne sia feyto el present publico albara de pago ".
Testes : Pascual de Pomar y Gento Falcon, judio, vecinos de Tarazona.
Note that Pascual de Pomar is not described as a Jew though he may well have been converso (and a Benardout) whereas Gento Falcon is. Where both witnesses are Jews the scribe always uses the plural - judios.

My Terrible Translation :
Levi Panplones, Jew, a resident of Tarazona, receives from Maria de Estorgo,
mother of Pero Ximeno de la Figuare, resident of the city, a one-third part of a
note of mandate (Promissory Note ?) like that which (her) ancestor Diago de
Estorga, deceased, owed to him. "For I, the aforesaid (?) Levi, have received
from you Maria, as the heiress to your Father, the one third part out of the
amount which he contracted to mandate (pay?) and I wish and desire (?) that you
should regard this as a public declaration of payment ".

** Protocol No. 133 - 04/01/1376 :
Remir Martinez de Cascant, procurador de don Jurdan Perez de Urries, - por
carta publica testificada por este notario-, entrego a censo perpetuo "de fillos a
fillos " a Vidal Axecu, judio de Tarazona, un casal y un patio de su representado,
ubicado en la juderia, limitrofe con la barbacana - que se emplaza cerca de la
Zuda-, casas de Simuel Carrut, casas de Acac Gormezano y "el muro de la
caerrera de la dita juderia ", con un renta de 10 sueldos pagaderos en la fiesta de
San Juan. Se acuerda un comiso despues de dos anos de impago y una fadiga de
5 sueldos ".
Testes : Don Pedro Badia y rabi Alazar (Benardut), judio, habitants en Tarazona.

My terrible Translation :
Remir Martinez de Cascant, attorney for don Jurdan Perez de Urries, - by public
document attested by this notary, - delivers for perpetual census "from generation
to generation (?) " to Vidal Axecu, Jew from Tarazona, a manor and a courtyard of
his Client, located in the juderia, adjacent to the wall, - which is positioned around
la Zuda, by the houses of Simuel Carrut, houses of Acac Gormezano and "the wall
to the path surrounding the said juderia ", at a rental of 10 sueldos payable at the
Festival of San Juan. His agreement will be revoked (?) after two years of non-
payment and one arrears (?) of 5 sueldos.

** Protocol No. 1357 - 26/12/1404 :
Simuel Nardut, Sento de Castro y Sento Amariello, adelantados, reciben en
comando 33 florines de Pedro de las Casas, escudero de Aranda de Moncayo,
caballero, habitante de Tarazona. El tercero de los indicados aporta unas casas
en la Collela, limitrofes co casas de Pedro Royz en dos laterals.
Testes : Anthon de Alias y Moses [judio, habitanes en Tarazona.

My terrible translation -
but note first of all that in his Index, Motis refers the reader who finds the surname Nardut to the surname Benardut :
Simuel Nardut, Sento de Castro y Sento Armariello, in advance, receive a
mandate (Promissory Note ?) for 33 florins of Pedro de las Casas, Squire for
Aranda de Moncayo, Knight, an inhabitant of Tarazona. The third of those listed
contributes some houses in the Collella, bounded by the houses of Pedro Royz on
two sides.

Such documents as these can now be seen in the Tarazona Municipal Archive, (by arrangement), - in the Tarazona Diocese Library and the Historical Archives of Tarazona, - three such sources in such a small Town.

Motis himself refers to 8 more main archives which he used, all local, at Barcelona, Borja, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Tudela and Valencia, - so it is clear that there is a vast amount of detailed and accurate information available to those interested and with the time to look for it. There is also a major Archive of this kind at Girona covering very many towns and villages throughout Aragon and Catalun too.

This distribution leads one to again take notice of the probable importance of Southern France to our community throughout the Middle Ages as we have indeed come across several pointers in that direction. And it is fact that a great deal of historical material is still to be found there. One facet of this issue is already clearly stated by Historians by the way, - that the Benardout doctors of Aragon drew much of their professional education and skills from French practitioners as well as from "Saracen " ones.

Through these documents the local community thus succeeded in preserving a substantial part of its history even if more by accident than design. Any other sizeable town is likely to hold a collection of its own if there was once and still is a major church, monastery or cathedral serving it.

For example, publications concerning the not so distant town of Tauste rely upon a similar collection of documents which have been analysed with much written on the strength of them about the Jews of that place, - (but no Benardout's yet discovered there, alas).

I sincerely believe that it is important to stress the degree to which Spaniards see all this as their historical material, their heritage, filling out a gap in their history both politically and very publicly too, even whilst attempting to "compensate " a little for past actions, for the Expulsion. Each one of us will reach his own conclusions, but we may not ignore their intentions here.
Feel free - I will always relate to what you say