By Cecil Roth
Original yr of publication: 1932
The checklist of the "New Christians" is an inseparable a part of the tales of Spain and Portugal, on the interval in their maximum brilliance. It constitutes a primary, notwithstanding tragic, bankruptcy of ecclesiastical historical past. It touches at the lifetime of each state of Western Europe within the seventeenth and 18th centuries, at the most important issues. it's the historical past to the biography of numerous people of the top eminence, either within the Peninsula and in a foreign country. It had very important reactions in politics, literature, technological know-how and trade. all through, it obtained lurid illumination from the flares of the autos-da-fe.
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Extra info for A History of the Marranos
We have already seen the high rank attained by Solomon ha-Levi, alias Pablo de Santa Maria, Bishop of Burgos. His son, Alfonso, who had been converted to Christianity with him, followed him in that dignity, and was one of the Spanish delegates to the great Church Council of Basle, the anti-Jewish policy of which he advocated. His brother, Gonzalo, was Bishop of Sigüenza, and several other members of the family attained eminence in politics and literature. Juan de Torquemada, Cardinal of San Sisto, was (it was alleged) of immediate Jewish descent, as were also the saintly Hernando de Talavera, Archbishop of Granada, and Alonso de Oropesa, General of the Geronimite Order.
Francisco Lopez de Villalobos was one of the most famous physicians of his time, and an author of considerable reputation, who is considered one of the classical writers of the Spanish tongue. Even the foremost anti-Jewish writers of the period, such as Pablo de Heredia and Alfonso de Zamora, were conversos. 7 Numerically, the importance of the converts, with their rapidly increasing descendants and their wide- BEGINNINGS OF MARRANISM 27 spread family connections, was very considerable. In the south of the country, it was said, they numbered something like one third of the population of the larger towns.
Even had the Church condoned backsliding, the popular fury would indubitably have punished it. Moreover, large numbers had accepted Christianity under only a remote threat of violence, the canonical force of their conversion being unquestionable. In any case, however doubtful their sincerity might be, their condition as titular Christians became permanent. Thus, from the close of the fourteenth century, a completely new state of affairs existed in Spain. By the side of those, now sadly decreased in wealth and numbers, who still openly professed their Judaism, there were vast numbers of conversos (converts); totaling, according to report, some hundreds of thousands in all.
A History of the Marranos by Cecil Roth