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Religion and Blood: ‘Religious Anti-Semitism’ in Early Modern Spain

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Chapter Summary

The statutes of limpieza de sangre have their origins in the fear, one that is omnipresent in the Centinela contra Judíos of Francisco de Torrejoncillo, that judaizing conversos were deliberately infiltrating secular and ecclesiastical institutions in early modern Spain with the aim of occupying positions of power and influence. Public criticism became potentially dangerous in the face of the power of the Inquisition and exacerbated popular anti-Semitism. Since the conversos had no outward distinguishing physical features or distinctive clothing marking them out from other Christians, it became necessary for those fearful of the Jewish 'stain' to find a manner to keep track of and identify who had Jewish ancestry within a town or community. The statutes of limpieza had a lasting impact and survived well into the nineteenth century. They outlasted even the Inquisition.

Keywords: anti-Semitism; Centinela contra Judíos; conversos; early modern Spain; Francisco de Torrejoncillo; limpieza de sangre

10.1163/9789004268876_003
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