New Christian A Jew turned Christian (Catholic), whether voluntarily or forcibly,
not necessarily a Marrano. Following the forced baptism of 1497 in Portugal, all
Jews became known as New Christians, in contrast to Old Christians. Curiously, New
Christians could never become Old Christians. The only way to become an Old Christian
was to purchase a concocted family tree, which was a common practice. In some exceptional
cases the king could proclaim New Christians Old Christians. New Christians were
the primary target of the Iberian Inquisitions. After the introduction of the Inquisition
in Portugal in 1536 New Christians were prohibited from entering certain professions
and occupations such as medical doctor, boticary, military service, civil service,
ship’s captain, Catholic religious orders, and many others.
Converso-The same as New Christian. The term is often used to describe former Jews
in Spain. Sometimes it is erroneously used as a synonym for Marrano.
Marrano - A secret Jew or descendant thereof. Outwardly a practising New Christian
Catholic, inwardly a secret Jew, often adhering to the essential tenets of Judaism
such as dietary laws, funeral rituals, observance of high holidays, keeping the Sabbath,
and fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. Understandably, circumcision was discontinued.
The origin of the word is shrouded in mystery, although there is agreement that it
was initially used in the pejorative sense of referring to swine. Today, due to the
exigencies of political correctness its use is frowned upon. However, giants in the
field such as Cecil Roth (History of the Marranos), Yosef Yerushalmi (From Spanish
Court to Italian Ghetto), Yirmiyahu Yovel (Spinoza and Other Heretics, the Marrano
of Reason) and Nathan Wachtel (La Foi du Souvenir-Labyrinthes Marranes), all use
the term. It is also widely used in Portugal by lay persons and academics alike without
any pejorative connotation.
The late professor Yerushalmi describes a Marrano as a potential Jew although professors
Yovel and Wachtel distinguish Marranism as a separate “religiosity”, a set of common
practices, although varied, by a people with a shared experience without a clearly
defined theological doctrine. Marranism is characterized by secretiveness, ambiguity
and fusion of Judaism and Christianity. For example, Marranos, even in the diaspora
may venerate a “saint” or venerate a certain statue of “Our Lady” which to them represents
Amongst the intellectuals, Marranism may be defined by scepticism of both religions.
Spinoza, born in Amsterdam of Marranos parents, (maternal line from Porto and Ponte
de Lima in northern Portugal, paternal line from Vidigueira near Evora), is perhaps
the best example. Although he was expelled from the Esnoga in Amsterdam at a young
age, he did not become a Christian. Uriel Acosta, born on Rua de Sao Miguel in Porto
of New Christian parents (Jews who had fled Spain in 1492), became a New Jew in
Amsterdam but when he was expelled for the first time from the Esnoga he also did
not revert to Christianity. Uriel was the first Marrano Jew to deny the individual
immortality of the soul. Spinoza was the first to reject the divine origin of the
bible and advocate separation of the state and religion.
Wachtel and Yovel attribute the rise of tolerance, freedom of thought, and the opening
of the western mind to such descendants of Marranos as Michel Montaigne and Baruch
Spinosa. Spinosa was only eight years old when Uriel shot himself in the head after
being lashed 39 times in the Esnoga of Amsterdam. Uriel's books were burned and
banned both by the Portuguese New Jews of Amsterdam and the civil authorities. Fortunately,
due to the efforts of H.P. Solomon, a copy was discovered in the Royal Danish Library
in 1989 which has now been published and translated into English. Acosta is often
referred to as the world's first secular Jew.
Crypto-Jew-Same as a Marrano, a term favoured in the USA.
New Jew-A Marrano who has returned to normative Judaism such as Portuguese/Spanish
communities in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Harlem, Bordeaux, Hamburg, Livorno, Venice,
Ferrara, Pisa, Ancona, Salonica, Constantinople, and later London, Manchester, New
York, Charleston, Philadelphia, Savannah, Newport, Montreal, Recife, Curacao, Jamaica,
and Suriname. The first six Jewish congregations in the USA and the first in Canada,
England and Holland were formed by descendants of Marranos.
More recently, Marranos from Lisbon (Ohel Jacob synagogue) and Porto (Kadoorie/ Mekor
Haim) attended Jewish rabbinical courts in London and Jerusalem to formally return
to normative Judaism. Belmonte is perhaps the best know example of New Jews. However,
both in Belmonte and Porto there are pockets of Marranos still operating clandestinely.
In Porto a secret group of women still hold Sabbath services and observe the high
holidays. It is a fallacy to assume that all Marranos want to return to normative
Judaism. Some do, some do not. Some return via Orthodoxy, others not. As professor
Wachtel notes, Marranism varies not only in practice but with individuals, place
MoriscoWith the capture of Moslem Granada in 1492 Spain officially became a Christian
nation with no religious minorities. Morisco was the name given to any Muslim remaining
The forced conversion of Jews to Christianity in Spain goes back a long time. For
example in the sixth century after the Visigoths adopted Christianity they forcibly
converted 90,000 Jews. How many remained Christian, how many returned to Judaism
and how many professed both religions is unknown.
Riots broke out in Seville were instigated by a priest called Ferrand Martinez, who
began an anti-Jewish campaign in 1378. In public sermons, filled with hatred of the
Jews, he called on all good Christians to destroy the 23 beautiful synagogues of
the Jewish community of Seville, lock Jews up in a ghetto, have no dealings with
them, and force them to accept Christianity. He preached that it was no crime for
Christians to murder and pillage the "unbelievers." He concentrated, especially,
on the peasants and lower classes of Andalusia, urging them not to give peace to
their Jewish neighbors.
In 1390, after the death of the archbishop, he became the chief deacon and church
administrator of the region and continued his Jew-baiting with greater vigor when
a blood-thirsty mob fell on the Jewish quarter of Seville killing all Jews falling
into their hands and refusing baptism. Many women and children were sold into slavery.
He was made a saint (see Jewish Encyclopedia)
Some, educated in talmudic yeshivot put their talents to the service of the Church,
one Paulus de Santa Maria (formerly Solomon Halevi, 1352-1435) was almost elected
Pope in Avignon and became Primate of the Spanish Church. He acted as Ferrers evil
genius and urged him to greater ferocity to convert or exterminate the Jews.
A feeling of how the Jews reacted is given by Chaim Potok in 'Wanderings'
They would use their weapons to hold off the mobs. But when it was clear that defeat
was near, they would accept it as a sign from God that their deaths had been decreed.
There might be a pause in the battle. The men would gather for a final decision.
To let themselves and their families be taken alive by such mobs was unthinkable.
Jewish law developed a benediction for the act of martyrdom. Fathers would cut
the throats of their wives and children and say aloud "Hear O Israel the Lord is
God, the Lord is One" and commit suicide.
They died without doubting the unfathomable judgement of heaven. They felt themselves
linked to the patriarch Abraham and his act of faith when he nearly sacrificed Isaac......They
saw themselves continuing in the tradition of the Pietists who died fighting the
Hellenists. It was a charged, passionate choice made with the certainty that the
world to come was a living reality and its rewards awaited them when they fulfilled
their ultimate duty as Jews.
Accounts make it clear...that Jews were fully aware of their actions; they were testifying
to the truth and continuing reality of the original covenant and to the cruelty and
emptiness of the Christianity that had forced them to such a choice. Martyrdom was
an aggressive act of denial, a publicly performed act sanctifying the name of God.
During the heat of battle and before the act of suicide, Jews would shout words
of derision about Jesus. Some let themselves be taken alive, agreed to baptism and
then spat on the crucifix, knowing they might be torn to pieces by the infuriated
Violence spread to other towns in Andalusia, the southern province of Castille, and
then swept northward to Burgos. Within three months most of the flourishing Jewish
communities in all the Christian States of Spain - Castille, Aragon, Valencia, Catalonia,
as well as the Balearic Islands-were destroyed.
After the wave of conversions in 1391, three loose groups emerged: Jews who held
fast to their faith and religious practice; Jews who converted to Christianity and
were absorbed by Christian society; and those who existed outwardly as Christians
but practiced Judaism in secret.
Many were affected. Numbers are disputed with up to 100,000 Jews dead, 100,000 lleaving
and 100,000 converting to Christianity. By 1415 it is claimed a further 50,000 converted
to Christianity. Those converting but became secret Jews were indistinguishable
from those who were not. Jews who considered their brethren to be forced converts
referred to them as anussim (literally "forced ones"). The term marrano literally
‘swine’ became a term of opprobrium applied to secret Jews
The Inquisition was Instituted by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) in Rome and expanded
by Pope Gregory IX in 1233 to combat the heresy of the Abilgenses, a French religious
sect. By 1255 it was in Central and Western Europe; although never in England or
In the 1440s, Spanish authorities realized some conversos were returning to their
Jewish heritage. To solve this problem, the Inquisition was authorized to find and
deal with these backsliding Christians.
During the Spanish re conquest of Spain from the Muslim’s, Spanish royalty offered
inducements for Jews to remain in Spain. By the end of the fifteenth century many
had risen to positions of power which annoyed the 'old' or 'true' Christians' who
saw them taking plum jobs.
In 1469, Isabel, the sister of King Henry IV of Castile, married Ferdinand, the son
of John II of Aragon. By 1479 they ruled Castile and Aragon together and strengthened
the Spanish church by using the Inquisition to find thosepracticing Judaism.. On
March 31, 1492 the Edict of Expulsion was issued when the Inquisition did not achieve
its aims and the Spanish Jews given four months to sell their property and leave
the country. The reason given was that all prior attempts to stop Christians from
returning to their Jewish roots had failed. Expulsion was the only way to guarantee
Jews would not influence Spanish Christians.
Even though the root causes of expulsions between countries differed, the end result
was the same. The rulers profited in the short run as debts were cancelled and property
lost. Jewish merchants, officially or not, soon returned to England and France, where
their financial contributions proved invaluable to the economy. In Spain, where the
expulsion was for religious reasons, the Jews were not permitted to return.
Torquemada a pious Dominican monk became confessor to Princess Isabella, the heiress
of Castile She was crowned in 1473 and he became Spain's Inquisitor General a decade
later. In his fifteen years as head of the Spanish Inquisition it grew from a single
tribunal in Seville to a network of two dozen 'Holy Offices'" creating panic and
The passage of the Edict of Expulsion was unusual as two of Isabella and Ferdinands
most trusted senior advisors were Jewish – Abraham Senior (1410-1512) and Isaac
Abraham Senior was the Court rabbi of Castile, and royal tax-farmer-in-chief who
brought about the marriage of the Infanta (later, Queen) Isabella to Ferdinand of
Aragon and later (1473) reconciled Isabella and her brother, Henry IV. of Castile.
In token of her gratitude she gave him a life pension of 100,000 maravedis.
He was very interested in his persecuted coreligionists.. For example, through him
the Castilian Jews raised a large sum to ransom Jews taken prisoners at the capture
On hearing of the Edict of Expulsion he went with Isaac Abrabanel to implore the
Queen to spare them. After the expulsion he and his son were baptized in Valladolid,
the King and Queen and the Primate of Spain acted as sponsors and he assumed the
name Ferrad [Fernando] Perez Coronel . Possibly his age (82) accounted for this action.
His son David Senior Coronel http://www.jackwhite.net/iberia/coronel.html was also
Isaac Abrabanel, a Portuguese Jewish statesman, banker, and scholar, born in Lisbon
and educated in rabbinical and Latin learning. In 1471 he succeeded his father Judah
as treasurer to Alfonso V. On the succession of John II in 1481 he was expelled
from the royal court and migrated to Spain and entered the service of Ferdinand and
Isabella, as Finance Minister (1484-92) and to whom he lent money to finance the
war against Granada.
A repeated story is that as Finance Minister he offered the King and Queen a vast
sum if they would not sign the Edict of Expulsion. Torquemeda, listening behind
a door feared they were wavering and burst in holding a crucifix over his head crying
“Behold the saviour whom the wicked Judas sold for thirty pieces of silver. If you
approve this deed then sell him for a great sum.” Frightened the Royal couple signed
Spain was unified with the capture of Granada in 1492.From then,Catholicism would
be the only religion allowed so implementing the religious zeal of the Church, the
Queen, and the masses. The Jews, with different beliefs, would have to be expelled.
The official reason was that the Jews encouraged the Conversos (Jews who had converted
to Christianity) to persist in their Jewishness and so would not allow them to become
The number expelled is disputed. For example Martin Gilbert in ‘The Illustrated
Atlas of Jewish Civilisation’ estimates that there were 230,000 in Spain. Of these
50,000 were baptised and remained, 20,000 died en route so 160,000 emigrated. Max
Dimont in ‘Jews, God and History p228’ estimates that 150,000 Jews were in Spain.
Of these 50,000 were baptised and remained, 10,000 died en route so 90,000 emigrated.
What is important is that this saw the creation of a new diaspora in Europe, Turkey,
North Africa and (eventually) America. ‘The Expulsion from Spain as seen by a Jew
in Italy’ is quoted by Sharon Keller in ‘The Jews in Literature and Art’ pp106-9
It is estimated that in 1500 the population of Spain was 5,000,000 (Spain's Demographic
Evolution). So, according to Gilbert the Jews accounted for 4.6% of the Spanish
population, 1% stayed and 3.6% left for other countries.
‘throughout, North Africa, Egypt and the Ottoman Empire the Jews enjoyed almost
complete religious and economic freedom for several centuries. Though the Turks
were looked upon by the Christians as the scourge of Christendom, Turkish policy
towards the Jews for many years approximated that of the former Islamic Empire.’
To gain high office in Spain before about 1650 (?) proof had to be given that your
ancestors had been Christians for some generations. (The actual number varied over
time and also depended on the office). The assumption was that practicing a religion
in secret was almost impossible to keep up for more than 2-3 generations. (This foreshadowed
the Nazi requirement for the 'Ariernachweis').
Every Christian over twelve (for girls) and fourteen (for boys) was fully accountable
to the Inquisition. Heretics and Conversos were the primary targets, but anyone who
spoke against the Inquisition fell under suspicion. To help guard against the spread
of heresy, Torquemada promoted the burning of non-Catholic literature—especially
Jewish Talmuds and Arabic books after the capture of Granada. Torquemada travelled
with 50 mounted guards and 250 armed men to impress and intimidate. He died in 1498
The guide for informers to help identify a secret Jew included a long list of habits
or characteristics such as the following:
* Put before your neighbour morsels of food such as pork, rabbit and conger eels,.
and if he refuses to eat, he is a Jew.
* Watch with great care everything your neighbour does on Friday. Does he put on
fresh linen? Does he light candles at least an hour before honest men do? Does
his wife clean the house that day? If you catch him doing those thing, you have
As a result people often ate pork and went to church or the cathedral to prove their
James Michener tells the story of the scholar Tomas de Salamanca. One day his nine
year old son burst into the street shouting "my father whipped me. He fasts on Yom
Kippur." After investigations lasting seven years sixty three of his close associates
were burnt alive. Among them were seventeen nuns who said Jewish prayers in their
convent, thirty monks, seven priests and two bishops.
The psychological climate caused by fear of being taken by the Inquisition explains
why conversos led secret lives. This is vividly brought to life in books and films
about this period. This secrecy has still not disappeared. While in Belmonte (2006)
we met someone who had just been made redundant as his employer had discovered he
was Jewish. Following this he was moving to Belmonte to be with other Jews. He,
and others, said a reason for this attitude was the growing influence of the Catholic
Opus Dei movement in Portugal.
Auto de fe (or auto da fe, or auto da fé in Portuguese, was the medieval Spanish
for "act of faith", a ritual of public penance or humiliation of condemned heretics
and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition had decided their punishment.
Punishments for those convicted ranged from wearing a special identifying penitential
tabard or "sanbenito", imprisonment, to being burnt.
It was the secular state that performed executions, usually for a repeated heresy
Obdurate prisoners were burned alive, but if reconciled to the church only strangled
at the stake before the faggots were lit.
Autos de fe were celebrated in public squares or esplanades lasting several hours
and attended by ecclesiastical and civil authorities. In Lisbon, the Rossio square
was the burning place.
The first auto de fe took place in Seville, Spain in 1481 when six people were executed.
The last execution by the Spanish Inquisition was of schoolmaster, Cayetano Ripoll
on July 26 1826 after a trial lasting nearly two years accused of being a deist.
He died by garotting on the gibbet after repeating the words, "I die reconciled to
God and to man."
The Inquisition went on to become a local spectacle viewed as the Romans did with
gladiatorial fights and competed with bullfights as an attraction. According to
the Encyclopaedia Judaica the climax was reached on June 30, 1680 on the Plaza Mayor,
Toledo in the presence of Charles II and his bride, Marie Louise d'Orléans, in honor
of their marriage. Beginning at six o'clock in the morning it lasted 14 hours and
51 persons burned This was the last great solemnity of its kind, as Philip V, the
first Bourbon refused, in 1701, to attend one in honor of his accession and led to
While the expulsion was a disaster for those affected but it was followed by the
creation of a new Jewish Diaspora
Relatives were forced by circumstances to conceal their religion and adopt Christianity.
A boat people crisis also occurred. Ferdinand provided ships at the ports of Cartagena,
Valencia, and Barcelona; but the Jews often found difficulty in landing, owing to
disease breaking out while on board ship. Thus at Fez the Moors refused to receive
them, and they were obliged to roam in an open plain, where many died from hunger.
The rest returned to Spain and were baptized. Nine crowded vessels arrived at Naples
and communicated pestilence. At Genoa they were only allowed to land provided they
received baptism. Those reaching the Ottoman Empire were more fortunate, the Sultan
Bayezid II was said to have sarcastically sent his gratitude to Ferdinand for sending
him some of his best subjects, thus "impoverising his own lands while enriching his
(Bayezid's)". These Jews mostly settled in and around Selanik (Thessaloniki in Greek),
Istanbul and Izmir.
Jane S.Gerber, an expert on Sephardic history at City University, New York claims
some historians grossly underestimate the number of conversions. Recent Y chromosome
DNA testing by the University of Leicester and the Pompeu Fabra University has indicated
that around 20% of Spanish men have direct patrilineal descent from Sephardic Jews,
indicating the number of conversos may have been much higher than originally thought.
In this indirect way the non-conversos, who had been the occasion of the expulsion,
became a nemesis to the Spanish kingdom. It is, however, incorrect to suppose, as
is usually done, that the immediate results of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain
were disastrous either to the commerce or the power of the Iberian kingdom. So far
from this being the case, Spain rose to its greatest height immediately after the
expulsion of the Jews, the century succeeding that event culminating in the world-power
of Philip II, who in 1580 was ruler of the New World, of the Spanish Netherlands,
and of Portugal, as well as of Spain. The intellectual loss was perhaps more direct.
A large number of Spanish poets and other Jewish writers and thinkers who traced
their origin from the exile were lost to Spain, including men like Spinoza, Uriel
da Costa, Samuel da Silva, Menasseh ben Israel, the Disraelis, but not, as is often
claimed, the Montefiores, who were of Italian descent although in London they did
belong to the Congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews.
In the mid sixteenth century as persecution of Spanish Protestants started, European
Protestant intellectuals began to depict the Inquistion as somehow representative
of the true, dark and cruel, nature of the Spanish people. This gave rise to the
black legend on which the Dutch and English, political rivals of Spain, also built
on the black legend.
Other sources for the black legend of the Inquisition come from Italy. Ferdinand's
efforts to export the Spanish Inquisition to Naples provoked many revolts, and even
as late as 1547 and 1564 there were anti-Spanish uprisings when it was believed that
the Inquisition would be established. In Sicily, where the Inquisition was established,
there were also revolts against the activity of the Holy Office, in 1511 and 1516.
Many Italian authors of the sixteenth century referred with horror to the actions
of the Inquisition.
(Excludes the tribunals of Cuenca, Cerdaña, and Palermo)
Judaizers Moriscos Protestants All Others Total Total Relaxed
4,397 10,817 3,646 25,814 44,674 1,604
9.8% 23.2% 8.1% 57.8% 100.0% 3.5%
Adapted from Jaime Contreras and Gustav Henningsen, "Forty-four Thousand Cases of
the Spanish Inquisition (1540–1700): Analysis of a Historical Data Bank," in Henningsen
and Tedeschi, 116. Included in the category "All Others" are propositions and blasphemy
(27.1%), bigamy and solicitation (8.4%), acts against the Inquisition (7.5%), superstition
(7.9%), and various (6.8%). The "Total Relaxed" involves only those sentenced to
death in person.
The period 1569–1621 also witnessed a series of controversial trials such as the
archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, Bartolomé de Carranza (1503–1576)
Death tolls are given by historians such as Will Durant, who, in The Reformation
(1957), cites Juan Antonio Llorente, General Secretary of the Inquisition from 1789
to 1801, as estimating that 31,912 people were executed from 1480-1808.
The Inquisition was not merely an expression of religious authority nor was it solely
an instrument of social and political control....it was an arena where social and
political cultures met and clashed on both shores of the Atlantic..... Persecuted
groups whether Christianized Jews in Spain or native folk healers in the New World,
were able to survive the Inquisition by strategies as diverse as preserving their
experiences through literature and answering the need for medical care (From frontispiece
Cultural encounters: the impact of the Inquisition in Spain and the New World)
A few Jews returned to Spain in the 19th century, and synagogues were opened in Madrid.
The Jews of Morocco, where the initial welcome turned to oppression welcomed the
Spanish troops conquering Spanish Morocco as liberators. Spanish historians started
to take an interest in the Sephardim and their language.
The government of Miguel Primo de Rivera, 1923-1930, returned Spanish citizenship
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the synagogues were closed and post-war
worship remained in private homes. Jews could be investigated by anti-Semitic police
While there was rhetoric against the "Judaeo-Masonic conspiracy by neutral Spain
25,600 Jews used Spain to escape the Germans as long as they "passed through leaving
no trace". Spanish diplomats such as Ángel Sanz Briz and Giorgio Perlasca protected
some 4,000 Jews and accepted 2,750 Jewish refugees from Hungary.
In 1986 after many years of negotiation, the PSOE relations were established with
Israel in 1986, denying the reason was connected with the European Economic Community.
Spain now serves as a bridge between Israel and the Arabs as seen in the Madrid
Conference of 1991.
The Jewish Spanish community is now mainly from Northern Africa, especially the former
Spanish colonies and Argentinia.
There are over 50,000 Spanish Jews with the largest communities in Barcelona and
Madrid each with around 3,500 members. Smaller communities include Alicante, Málaga,
Tenerife, Granada, Valencia,Benidorm, Cadiz, Murcia.
Sefarad 92marked the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
The principal event was President Chaim Herzog of Israel and Spain's King, Juan Carlos,
prayinng together in Madrid’s Beth Yaakov synagogue to symbolise their reconciliation.
As YIDDISH is the language associated with Ashkenasim so LADINO is associated with
Sephardim. Its development is described in Judeo-Spanish,
While the term is often used by laymen to indicate any non orthodox belief such as
Paganism, by definition heresy can only be committed by someone who considers himself
a Christian, but rejects the teachings of the Catholic Church. A person who completely
renounces Christianity is not considered a heretic, but an apostate, and a person
who renounces the authority of the Church but not its teachings is a schismatic.
In later years, the Church instituted the Inquisition, an official body charged with
the suppression of heresy. This began as an extension and more rigorous enforcement
of pre-existing episcopal powers (possessed, but little used, by bishops in the early
Middle Ages) to inquire about and suppress heresy, but later became the domain of
selected Dominican monks under the direct power of the Pope.
The Inquisition was active in several nations of Europe, particularly where it had
fervent support from the civil authority. The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) was
part of the Catholic Church's efforts to crush the Cathars. It is linked to the movement
now known as the Medieval Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition was particularly brutal
in its methods, which included the burning at the stake of many heretics. However,
it was initiated and substantially controlled by King Ferdinand of Spain rather than
the Church; King Ferdinand used political leverage to obtain the Church's tacit approval.
Another example of a medieval heretic movement is the Hussite movement in the Czech
lands in the early 1400s
It is widely reported that the last person to be burned alive at the stake on orders
from Rome was Giordano Bruno, executed in 1600 for a collection of heretical beliefs
including Copernicanism and (probably more important) an unlimited universe with
innumerable inhabited worlds. The last case of an execution at an auto de fe by the
Spanish Inquisition was the schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll, accused of deism and executed
by garroting July 26, 1826 in Valencia after a two-year trial.
The development of the printing press greatly hampered the ability of the church
to suppress dissidents, with the result that Martin Luther was able to successfully
fight the Papacy and forge the Protestant Reformation From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_heresy.
The charge of heresy was also used politically (see also History Channel videos
Part 1Part 2) . For example it was used to destroy the Knights Templar. They
were a religious military order of knighthood established at the time of the Crusades
that became a model and inspiration for other military orders and fabulously wealthy.
Originally founded to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, the order assumed
greater military duties during the 12th century. Its prominence and growing wealth,
however, provoked opposition from rival orders. Falsely accused of blasphemy and
blamed for Crusader failures in the Holy Land, the order was destroyed by King Philip
IV of France who accused the Knights Templar of multiple acts of heresy which, following
torture , was admitted to by the last Grand Master. In 1312, Pope Clement V dissolved
the Knights Templar officially and the Grand Master was burned at the stake in 1314
despite having recanted his confessions.
On July 21, 1542, Pope Paul III, with the Constitution Licet ab initio, established
the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, staffed by
cardinals and other officials whose task it was "to maintain and defend the integrity
of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines". It served
as the final court of appeal in trials of heresy and served as an important part
of the Counter-Reformation.
In 1908 this body was renamed the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office
by Pope Saint Pius X.
On December 7, 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council the Congregation's
name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
In 1983, with the new code of Canon law, "Sacred" was dropped from the names of Vatican
Congregations, and so the dicastery adopted its current name Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith.
The last head under the old name was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who in 1965 became
the 265th Pope as Benedict XVI
On 2 January 1492, the Catholic Kings entered Grenada with great pomp and ceremony.
The fall of this last bastion of Muslim power in the peninsula strengthened the drive
for complete religious homogeneity. But a big obstacle had to be surmounted: the
presence of thousands of converts who secretly remained loyal to Judaism. Their presence
was considered scandalous: it proved that the segregation of Jews and restrictions
of their rights was not enough. From then on, purity of faith became a Spanish obsession:
New Christians had to be cleansed of any Jewish influence.
It was also in Grenada that the expulsion edict was signed. The monumental exodus
took place and Jews were replaced by New Christians who remained in Spain. They became
the new victims of the purity obsession. The derogatorily called Marranos and their
descendants were forbidden to occupy public office, to belong to corporations, colleges,
orders, and even to reside in certain towns.
Public positions were restricted exclusively to Christians "of impeccable descent,"
namely those who were not suspected of Jewish ancestry. This change of the focus
of the obsession meant a relocation of hatred. Since no more Jews existed, Judeophobia
sought a different victim to satisfy its virulent blood-thirst. The New Christians
fit the bill. As time went by, more stringent efforts were made to exhume every trace
of impure ancestors that had previously been overlooked.
Until 1860 "purity of blood" was a prerequisite to being accepted into the Military
Academy. The most prestigious of Spanish colleges, San Bartolome of Salamanca, boasted
that they rejected any candidate against whom the slightest rumor existed of Jewish
ancestry. Since no one could be sure of his "blood purity since time immemorial,"
the blemish was negotiable through bribed witnesses, shuffled genealogies, and falsified
documents. Until this very day a special aura is often attributed to this supposed
"unity of faith" of classic Spain.
It is noteworthy that the obsession with purity of blood may have a deep relationship
with the frequency with which blood libels were fabricated in Spain, where the canard,
as aforementioned, was included in law. As opposed to other Western countries, there
are still Spanish priests who openly revere in their churches the false memory of
a martyr boy ritually murdered by blood-drinking Jews. In the St. Nicholas Church
in Sevilla there is an altar devoted to Dominguito del Val, "murdered by Jews in
1250." Bishop Carlos Amigo Vallejo, who spreads this libel, is one of the patrons
of a public foundation that supposedly promotes "friendship between the three Mediterranean
cultures" (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.)
The fearful, mistrusting, and hate-filled atmosphere created by the libels generated
collective hysteria. Not surprisingly, the 1492 expulsion took place the year after
the blood libel of La Guardia, which immediately gave birth to the cult venerating
the memory of the "holy martyr boy."
Generation after generation, details were added to the story, which assumed epic
proportions. Each century produced a literary masterpiece that reiterated the topic.
In 1583 Fray Rodrigo de Yepes wrote the Story of the Death and Glorious Martyrdom
of the Innocent Saint called de La Guardia (after almost a century of Jew-free Spain)
and the plot of this work was the basis for Lope de Vega's The Innocent Child of
La Guardia. During the eighteenth century, Jose de Canizares adapted it in The Very
Image of Christ, as did Gustavo Adolfo Becquer (1830-1870) in his story The Rose
of Passion. In 1943 Manuel Romero de Castilla again published the libel under the
title A Unique Event during the Kingdom of the Catholic Monarchs.
Of the two blood libels which are still celebrated worldwide, one is in Spain,18
commemorating the time in 1415 when the synagogue of Segovia was confiscated and
its leaders executed after an earthquake was interpreted as a divine punishment for
Jewish blood rituals.
Infant John of Aragon took part in some of the accusations. In 1367 in Barcelona,
several Jewish sages (Hasdai Crescas, Nissim Gerondi, and Isaac Ben Sheshet) were
among those arrested when the whole community (including children) was locked up
in the synagogue for three days without food. Since they steadfastly refused to confess
to a blood crime, the king ordered that they should be freed and three Jews were
executed. Ten years later there were similar cases in Teruel and Huesca.
Thus the end of the glorious Jewish community of Spain was not only tragic in the
suffering involved and exceptional in its enormous dimensions, it also left behind
a collective memory of the demonic image of the Jews, and a fear of blood impurity.
Says Rafael Cansinos Assens, one of the most important modern Spanish authors: "With
the edict of expulsion of 1490, the Jews disappeared from Spain and from its literature...the
Jew is erased from the consciousness of the Spaniard."19
The exiles called themselves Sephardim the plural of Sepharad the Hebrew name for
their native SpainThe name Sepharad appears in the prophecy of Obadiah (Obad. 20)
as one of the places where the Jews exiled from Jerusalem lived. The biblical allusion
is probably to Sardis, a city in Asia Minor. But Jewish tradition, especially since
the eighth century C.E., tended to identify Sepharad with the western edge of the
known world--the Iberian Peninsula. Thus, during the entire Middle Ages, and especially
during the Golden Age of Hispano-Hebraic culture, Spanish Jews called themselves
Sephardim, a name they subsequently used (and not without a certain pride in their
glorious peninsular past) in the diaspora following their expulsion from Spain.
The term Sephardi is often used in contrast to Ashkenazi, which refers to another
major ethnocultural branch of Judaism--the Franco-German-Slavic branch. As in the
case of Sepharad, Ashkenaz is also a biblical place name (it appears in Gen. 10:3,
Chron. 1:6, and Jer. 51:27), which originally seems to have meant a country in the
upper Euphrates valley bordering Armenia, but which medieval rabbinic literature
identified with the earliest Jewish settlements in central Europe--first Germany
and northern France, then Poland and Lithuania. A cultural tradition grew from this
nucleus, one with its own folkways and customs, rich folklore, religious and literary
currents, a strong philosophy, and its own liturgy. Linguistically, the Ashkenazi
branch of Judaism is characterized by its particular pronunciation of Hebrew in religious
texts and by the use of Yiddish--a derivative of High German influenced by Slavic,
other European languages, and, naturally, Hebrew--in daily life. Successive migrations
have placed the Ashkenazim in other areas, especially North and South America and
Curiously enough, the opposition Sephardi/Ashkenazi has given rise to a certain confusion
that dates from the end of the nineteenth century and has religious, or rather, liturgical
origins. The growing Ashkenazi emigration to Palestine created the need for a chief
rabbi for the Ashkenazim, parallel to the Sephardic chief rabbinate that had existed
for many years. An immediate consequence of the increasing impact of Ashkenazi culture
in the area of Palestine that later became Israel was to include under the authority
of the Sephardic rabbinate all matters that were not Ashkenazi, even those that had
no connection to the Jews of Spanish origin. And so Sephardim became the name not
only of the descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century
but also of all those who came from Arab and Eastern countries, be they the Jews
of Conchin (India), the Yemenites, or the black Jews from Ethiopia.
According to this article, flamenco has deep Jewish roots in addition to Indian,
Greek, Roman and Persian influences.
The article begins with the art form's Indian roots, brought by Gypsies who traveled
from northwest India to Pakistan and Persia into 14th-15th-century Europe and into
Andalucia in southern Spain. Some historians say the music's debut might have been
as early as 711 CE, brought by Arab armies coming from North Africa.
Andalucian music is an amalgam of Arabic music with Hindu, Greek, Hebrew, Persian
influences with local folk music and dances dating back to Phoenician and Roman times.
Following the Spanish recapture of Granada - and the conversion and expulsion of
its Muslims and Jews - flamenco "became a voice of protest of dissenting Christians,
outlaws, Muslims, Jews and other social outcasts who did not fit into the new political
order. Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or leave Spain and Gypsies were
forced to settle down and put an end to their nomadic lifestyle."
Further, after the 1492 Expulsion, a Jewish voice "resurfaced" in flamenco.
The plaintive wailing of religious prayer, now forbidden, became the secular "aaiiee"
of the conversos (Jews forced to convert to Christianity), with the notable exception
of the Saeta. The Saeta sung today during Holy Week dates back centuries and is generally
agreed to have Jewish origins. One can imagine the conversos singing in a very traditional
manner for them but changing the words to provide their new faith and Christian devotion:
singing, no doubt, with extra verve and passion to dispel any doubts of their sincerity.
There are also strong similarities between certain synagogal chants and some early
forms of cante flamenco.
One section concerns the Peteneras form of flamenco, which is likely linked to Sephardim
who settled in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.
The Peteneras, writes the author, was passed down through the generations since the
1492 exile. Another hint as to Peteneras' Jewish origins is that even today, many
Gypsies refuse to sing or dance Peteneras and consider it unlucky. The music's status
as unlucky may be rooted to the long history of persecution of the Sephardim. (see
also Jewish Music, Jewish Memory)
From King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, the current King and Queen of Spain (FromEpilogue to The MEZZUZAH in the Madonna's Foot, Harper Collins 1994 )
Although I began my quest without a clear agenda beyond exploring my past, each trip
to Spain, and each new experience with the people I met there, convinced me that
a real change in the relationship between the Spanish and Jewish peoples was possible.
To-day, with only a minuscule Jewish population in their midst, most Spaniards still
carry distorted stereotypical images of the Jew. Thetime to heal old wounds, to
sweep away obsolete myths to clear the way for a genuine rapprochement between our
two peoples is long overdue.
Even before I began my journey, I suspected that the reigningmonarchs of Spain were
favorably disposed towards Jews. This impression was confirmed in 1987 when King
Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were invited to a special ceremony at 'Iemple Tiberth
Israel in Los Angeles. His Majesty's appreciation of the role of Jews in the historic
fabric of Spain and his hope for a reconciliation between the Spanish and Jewish
peoples was clearly spelled out in the following excerpts from his address to the
"How can we not, on this momentous occasion, recall the role played by the Jewish
community throughout centuries of Spanish history? Its contribution to letters, science,
and the arts during the Middle Ages, and the beauty of the synagogues, such as that
of the Trânsito or Santa Maria la Blanca in Toledo, constitute a legacy in which
we all acknowledge the rich variety of the Jewish culture and traditions.
The search for an identity and respect for the traditions that chiaracterize the
Jewish people have been forged in the setting of countless adverse and difficult
circumstances: unjust and unnecessary expulsions, persecution and intolerance, culminating,
more recently, in the tragedy of the Holocaust. From all this adversity, the Jewish
people were able to draw teachings with a view to consolidating their faith and their
traditions, in an exemplary struggle for their survival.
Today's Spain is proud of its close kinship with the (Jewish) community, which has
contributed in a very special way to the prosperity of this great country.
I should like to convey to this community the greeting of a Spain in which in full
conscience assumes responsibility for the negative as well as the positive aspects
of its historic past. This is also a unique opportunity to emphasize the will for
peace and friendship that ainimates the Spanish people, who see this community as
part of its ts own history"
In 1992 Spain commemorates Sefarad'92, an event which has very special connotations
for the Spanish as well as the Jewish people, whose ancestors had to leave Spain
in 1492, a land they loved and where their culture blossomed for so many centuries.
This anniversary is a good occasion to consider the negative impact of intolerance
and prejudice, prevailing in Europe during that time, and above all it is an occasion
to pay tribute to the golden age of Spanish Jewry.
The poetry of Yehuda Halevy, the scientific and philosophic innovations of Maimonides,
and the profound contribution to astronomy by Abraham Zacuto, just to cite a few
names, are inscribed with golden letters in the books of literature, philosophy,
and science. We should also remember the example of tolerance and peaceful coexistence
given by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic communities in Toledo, which made that city
one of the most extraordinary centers of culture during the twelfth and thirteenth
This book also contributes to our common history with a very important and not very
well known chapter. By means of personal accounts we are told how the lives of many
Jews were preserved during the Second World War, when thousands of foreign Jews were
sheltered in Spain or granted asylum in Spanish embassies throughout the world. Although
these episodes could be considered a historical paradox, considering the situation
in Spain at that time, they are in fact not so surprising, because they originate
in a profound historical connection.
The Expulsion of the Jews in 1492 did not sever the link between Spain and the Jewish
world. Jewish culture was kept alive in Spain thanks to Crypto-Jewish families, and
outside the boundaries of the peninsula, first in the Mediterranean basin and the
Near East, and later in the Spanish territories of North and South America. While
Spain was taking its language and culture to the New World, the dispersed Sephardim
disseminated their culture to the far corners of the globe, a legacy for which the
Spanish people should be thankful and proud.
I still remember, with great emotion, the warm welcome that Queen Sofia and I received
in 1987 at the Sephardic Temple in Los Angeles, which marked the official reencounter
between the Spanish crown and some of our most beloved brothers and sisters. Since
then, the Spanish and Jewish peoples have rediscovered the best side of our common
past; my son, the Prince of Astúrias, had the pleasure of awarding the Humanities
Prize, which bears his own name, to the Sephardic Community.
Finally, I want to give my warmest thanks to Trudi Alexy for her decisive contribution
to a better understanding of our two communities, by writing a book that will certainly
constitute a discovery in the year commemorating the discovery of the New World.
Signed: His Royal Highness, King Juan Carlos I
On October 7, 1991, King Juan Carlos was awarded the Elic Wiesel Foundation Humanitarian
Award. What follows is an excerpt from the address by Elie Wiesel during the award
As a Jew, I am committed to the memory of our history, the history of Israel and
therefore to its right to live and fulfill its destiny in security and peace.
As a good Jew, I believe in the obligation to remember. We remember the good and
the bad, the friends and the foes. We remember that during the darkest era of our
recent history, Spain gave shelter to countless Jews who illegally entered its territory.
And I remember that five hundred years ago, clinging to their faith, Jews were forced
by your ancestors to leave Spain. Could they have imagined that their descendants
would meet five centuries later in an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, and
friendship? History does have imagination as well as memory.
In 1950, when I visited your still-tormented country as a young correspondent for
an Israeli paper, I had an eerie feeling that I had been there before. Many places
seemed familiar. I thought I "remembered" events, names, experiences..
When I came
to Toledo I thought I could hear—some 850 years after his death—Yehuda Halevy's powerful
poem of nostalgic love for Jerusalem: "Libi ba-mizra'h ve'anokhi besof maarav": My
heart, said he, is there in the East, but I am here, at the other end of the West......Barcelona
evoked for me the great thinker Nahmanides. It was in that cathedral that he defeated
Paolo Christiani during their famous disputation. Granada? I knew the city from Shmuel
Hanagid's war poems. Abraham Ibn Ezra was born in Córdoba. ... I have always been
particularly fond of him. He was a fatalist, who believed he was meant to be poor,
always. In one of his songs he wrote: "If I were to sell candles, the sun would never
set; if I dealt in funeral shrouds, no one would ever die . . . As long as I lived."
Oh, yes, Your Majesty, I think of Spain and I see the noble figures of Menahem ibn
Saruk and Joseph ibn Abitur, of Shlomo ibn Gabirol and Maimonides. How poor Jewish
philosophy and poetry, and philosophy and poetry in general, would be without their
The history of your people, Your Majesty, and mine, have registered many moments
of glory.... Three religious communities lived and worked and dreamed together in
Spain for many, many decades. . . . But our past also contains moments of despair.
When I think of the great luminaries of medieval Spain I cannot help but remember
the Inquisition and its flames... the public humiliation of Jews who wanted to remain
Jewish ... the Expulsion and its endless procession of uprooted families in search
of new havens. ...
Still, while no man is responsible for what his ancestors have done, he is responsible
for what he does with that memory.
Your Majesty, what you have done with yours is what moved us to honor you tonight.
We honor your convictions and beliefs, your principles and ideals, we honor your
commitment to humanity.
Having witnessed the evil in fascism and dictatorship, you chose to bring democracy
to your nation by restoring its taste for religious freedom, political pluralism,
and social justice.
Your personal courage in opposing the attempted coup d'etat won you the admiration
of free men and women the world over.
We applaud your wisdom in separating religion and state, your compassion ... your
sensitivity to and concern with Jewish fears and hopes.. . your emphasis on symbols...
. Your decision to visit a synagogue next March, on the five-hundredth anniversary
of the Expulsion Decree, offers proof that Spain, represented by Your Majesty, has
overcome its past and faces the challenges of the future. That is a noble gesture
that will remain in our collective Jewish memory forever.
In 2006 a group of students and lecturers decided to create an organisation to promote
activities that would deepen knowledge and disseminate Jewish culture throughout
This followed a 2006 course on Hebrew Thought at the Fundacio Universitat de Lieda
coordinated by Professor Mario Javier Saban.
This coincided with the objectives of a group in Barcelona who wanted to create a
national organisation to impart Jewish ideas and culture.
There is now the Tarbut (Hebrew for ‘culture) throughout Spain.
The two major centers of Jewish life in Spain are Madrid (4,500) and Barcelona (3,500),
followed by Malaga, where a smaller number of Jews live. Other communities are found
in Alicante, Cadiz, Marbella, Majorca, Torremolinos, and Valencia, Canary Islands,
Oviedo, Seville. In Spanish North Africa, Jews reside in Ceuta and Melilla. The Jewish
community of modern Spain is primarily based on waves of post-war migration from
Morocco, from the Balkans, from other European countries, and, most recently (in
the 1970s and 1980s), from Latin America.
The Federacion de Comunidades Israelitas de Espana, which unites the orthodox Spanish
communities from different parts of the country, represents Jewish interests to the
government. A sizable proportion of the community is affiliated to the synagogue-focused
communal centers in Barcelona and Madrid, which, in turn, are linked to the Federacion.
Barcelona also has a Reform and Chabad congregations, Madrid also has Mazorti and
Chabad, Valencia also has Mazorti, Majorca and Malaga also have Chabad.
In the absence of laws restricting hate propagation or Holocaust denial, Spain serves
as a publishing and distribution center for neo-Nazis and other extreme rightists.
Indeed, Spain serves as a refuge for a number of Nazi war criminals and neo-Nazis
convicted elsewhere of promoting racial hatred or historical revisionism.
The Latin American immigrants, who come from communities with a strong secular tradition,
have formed organizations that bring Jews together for cultural and intellectual
events. The Baruch Spinoza Center, and the magazine Raices (Roots) are initiatives
of these secular-oriented Jews.
In Barcelona the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities pray in separate synagogues in
the same building on high holidays. Apart from the two major centers, synagogues
operate in Alicante, , Malaga, Marbella, Melilla (North Africa), Seville, Torremolinos,
and Valencia. Kosher food is provided at the Madrid communal center.
Jewish day schools exist in Barcelona, Madrid, and Malaga. Groups such as WIZO and
B'nai B'rith are active in Spain.
A 'ZAKHOR' Center of Studies for the protection and transmission of Jewish Heritage
was recently created in Barcelona.
Israel and Spain did not establish diplomatic ties until 1986, when Spain recognized
the State of Israel. Prior to recognition, the Spanish Jewish community, through
cultural friendship associations, provided an unofficial linkage between the two
countries. Aliya: Since 1948, 1,412 Spanish Jews have emigrated to Israel.
Toledo features the Museo Sephardi (situated in the El Transito synagogue), the nearby
Church of Santa Maria La Blanca (an ancient synagogue), and the former Jewish quarter.
The synagogue of Maimonides can be visited in Cordoba. Most of these have long since
been used as churches.
Former Jewish areas, the juderias, can be seen in, Avila, Barcelona, Besalu, Caceres,
Calahorra, Córdoba, Estella, Gerona, Hervas, Jaén, León, Monforte de Lemos, Montblanc,
Oviedo, Palma de Majorca, Plasencia, Rivadavia, Segovia, Tarazona, Tarragona Tortosa