Converso

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A converso (Spanish: [komˈberso]; Portuguese: [kõˈvɛɾsu]; Catalan: convers [kumˈbɛrs], [komˈvɛɾs]; "a convert", from Latin conversvs, "converted, turned around") and its feminine form conversa was a Jew who converted to Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries, or one of their descendents. The majority of Spain's Jews converted to Christianity as a result of the pogroms in 1391. The remaining Jews who had chosen to remain practicing Jews were finally expelled during the Alhambra decree in 1492. A significant portion chose to join the already large Convert community rather than face exile. Over the following two centuries Conversos were subject to discriminatory laws and harassment by the Inquisition.

New Christians of Jewish origin were referred to as marranos. The term marrano may also refer to Crypto-Jews, i.e., those who secretly continued to practice Judaism. New Christians of Muslim origin were known as moriscos. Unlike Marranos, Moriscos were subject to an edict of expulsion even after conversion, which was implemented severely in the eastern region of Valencia and less so in other parts of Spain. Nevertheless, overall Moriscos were subject to considerably less suspicion and hostility from the wider Christian community than the Jews and Jewish-descended Marranos.

Conversos played an important role in the Revolt of the Comuneros, a popular revolt and Civil war centred in the region of Castile against the imperial pretensions of the Spanish monarchy. [1]

Description[edit]

Conversos were subject to suspicion and harassment from both what was left of the community they were leaving and that which they were joining.[2] Christians and Jews called them tornadizo (renegade). James I, Alfonso X and John I passed laws forbidding the use of this epithet. This was part of a larger pattern of royal oversight, as laws were promulgated to protect their property, forbid attempts to convert them back to Judaism or the Muslim faith, and regulate their behavior, preventing their cohabitation or even dining with Jews, lest they convert back.

The conversos did not enjoy legal equality. Alfonso VII prohibited the "recently converted" from holding office in Toledo. They had supporters and bitter opponents in the Christian secular of general acceptance, yet they became targets of occasional pogroms during times of social tension (as during an epidemic and after an earthquake). They were subject to the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions.

While pure blood (so-called limpieza de sangre) would come to be placed at a premium, particularly among the nobility, in a 15th-century defense of conversos, Bishop Lope de Barrientos would list what Roth calls "a veritable 'Who's Who' of Spanish nobility" as having converso members or being of converso descent. He pointed out that given the near-universal conversion of Iberian Jews during Visigothic times, (quoting Roth) "[W]ho among the Christians of Spain could be certain that he is not a descendant of those conversos?"

According to a widely publicised study (December 2008) in the American Journal of Human Genetics, 19.8 percent of modern Spaniards (and Portuguese) have DNA reflecting Sephardic Jewish ancestry (compared to 10.6 percent having DNA reflecting North African ancestors).[3] The Sephardic result has been relativized by the authors themselves[3][4][5][6] and questioned by Stephen Oppenheimer, who proposes that much earlier migrations from the Eastern Mediterranean might have accounted for the Sephardic estimates. However, Chris Tyler-Smith, an expert on Y-chromosome genetics at the Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, says that slight individual differences in Y-chromosome markers suggest that Iberians and Sephardic Jews share ancestry more recent than several millennia.[7] The same authors in an October 2008 study attributed most of those same lineages in Iberia and the Balearic Islands as of Phoenician origin.[8][dubious ]

See also[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5446436
  2. ^ A very recent book that highlights such issues in the sixteenth century is James Nelson Novoa, Being the Nação in the Eternal City: New Christian Lives in Sixteenth-Century Rome (Peterborough: Baywolf Press, 2014); https://books.google.com/books?id=KcFMBAAAQBAJ
  3. ^ a b Adams, Susan M.; Bosch, Elena; Balaresque, Patricia L.; Ballereau, Stéphane J.; Lee, Andrew C.; Arroyo, Eduardo; López-Parra, Ana M.; Aler, Mercedes; Grifo, Marina S. Gisbert; Brion, Maria; Carracedo, Angel; Lavinha, João; Martínez-Jarreta, Begoña; Quintana-Murci, Lluis; Picornell, Antònia; Ramon, Misericordia; Skorecki, Karl; Behar, Doron M.; Calafell, Francesc; Jobling, Mark A. (2008). "The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 83 (6): 725–36. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007. PMC 2668061free to read. PMID 19061982. 
  4. ^ "La cifra de los sefardíes puede estar sobreestimada, ya que en estos genes hay mucha diversidad y quizá absorbieron otros genes de Oriente Medio" ("The Sephardic result may be overestimated, since there is much diversity in those genes and maybe absorbed other populations originating in the Middle East). ¿Pone en duda Calafell la validez de los tests de ancestros? "Están bien para los americanos, nosotros ya sabemos de dónde venimos" (Puts Calafell in doubt the validity of ancestry tests? "They can be good for the Americans, we already know from where we come from). " [1]
  5. ^ "We think it might be an over estimate" "The genetic makeup of Sephardic Jews is probably common to other Middle Eastern populations, such as the Phoenicians, that also settled the Iberian Peninsula, Calafell says. "In our study, that would have all fallen under the Jewish label." http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/39056/title/Spanish_Inquisition_couldn%E2%80%99t_quash_Moorish,_Jewish_genes
  6. ^ "El doctor Calafell matiza que (...) los marcadores genéticos usados para distinguir a la población con ancestros sefardíes pueden producir distorsiones". "ese 20% de españoles que el estudio señala como descendientes de sefardíes podrían haber heredado ese rasgo de movimiento más antiguos, como el de los fenicios o, incluso, primeros pobladores neolíticos hace miles de años." "Dr. Calafell clarifies that (...) the genetic markers used to distinguish the population with Sephardic ancestry may produce distortions" "this 20% of Spaniards that are accounted as having Sephardic ancestry in the study could have inherited that same marker from older movements like the Phoenicians, or even the first Neolithic settlers thousand of years ago" http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2008/12/04/ciencia/1228409780.html
  7. ^ "Spanish Inquisition left genetic legacy in Iberia - life". New Scientist. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  8. ^ Zalloua, Pierre A.; Platt, Daniel E.; El Sibai, Mirvat; Khalife, Jade; Makhoul, Nadine; Haber, Marc; Xue, Yali; Izaabel, Hassan; Bosch, Elena; Adams, Susan M.; Arroyo, Eduardo; López-Parra, Ana María; Aler, Mercedes; Picornell, Antònia; Ramon, Misericordia; Jobling, Mark A.; Comas, David; Bertranpetit, Jaume; Wells, R. Spencer; Tyler-Smith, Chris; The Genographic, Consortium (2008). "Identifying Genetic Traces of Historical Expansions: Phoenician Footprints in the Mediterranean". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 83 (5): 633–42. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.10.012. PMC 2668035free to read. PMID 18976729. 

References[edit]

  • Gitlitz, David. Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews, Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2002. ISBN 082632813X
  • Brooks, Andrée Aelion. The Woman who Defied Kings: the life and times of Dona Gracia Nasi, Paragon House, 2002. ISBN 1557788294
  • Roth, Norman, Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. ISBN 0299142302

External links[edit]