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The "General Conversion" Of The Jews And Renewal Of The "Converso Problem"

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Chapter Summary

This chapter moves from the promulgation of the expulsion edict in December 1496 to the forced conversion of the Jews in 1497. The chapter examines the process by which this expulsion turned into a brutal mass conversion and delves into the fate of Jewish communal property such as synagogues. It examines how the "converse problem", which had surfaced and then abated during the reign of João II, suddenly re-emerged in the spring and summer of 1497 and threatened to upset the outcome of the marriage negotiations concluded in 1496. Although all the Jewish chroniclers describe appalling scenes of mass suicide, they provide neither the names nor the numbers of martyrs. Abraham Zacuto named one rabbi, who committed suicide with his sons, as Isaac ben Zahin. The letter bearing Manuel's furious reply to the Spanish court written after receiving Princess Isabel's personal demands has unfortunately not survived.

Keywords: Abraham Zacuto; converse problem; expulsion edict 1496; Jewish communal property; João II; king Manuel; martyr of 1497; mass conversion; princess Isabel; synagogue



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