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A Brief History of Iberian Antisemitism

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Chapter Summary

In 1449, a discriminatory, racist, and anti-Semitic set of laws was passed in Toledo. It prohibited any Jew who converted to Christianity, or converses, from participating in a professional corporation or being admitted to any honorific office of the state or the Church. The New Christians guaranteed the Inquisition on an economic basis to maintain itself. As a socio-economic group independent of religious involvement, the converses were therefore the subject of the Holy Office. The main objective of this chapter is to show how the Inquisition applied this racial legislation across the Portuguese empire by the Inquisition, particularly in Brazil. On the basis of several examples, it shows how these factors hindered the economic, social, and cultural development of this Portuguese colony from the 16th to the 18th century. In the 18th century, the King's minister, the Marques de Pombal, decided to improve the kingdom's backward economic situation.

Keywords: Christianity; Holy Office; Inquisition; Marques de Pombal; Portuguese empire; Toledo

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