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Portugal and the Jews

Christopher Jones said the Jews were better treated in Portugal than in Spain. I therefore consulted Hanry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, a historical revision. The word "revision" is self-explanatory. He quotes the case of a Spanish Jew: " A Jewish lady said "The Inquisition is around and will burn you".He answered: "I want to go to Portugal". Jews were at first the main target of the Inquisition. Those fleeing from Spain were allowed to stay in Portugal for six months on payment of a ducat a head, when the faced the same choice: conversion or expulsion. Then the converted Jews, or "New Christians" became the target of suspicion. In 1506, Portugal witnessed the first massacre of "New Christians". In 1532, King Joao III introduced an Inquisition on the Spanish model. In 1540, the Portuguese Inquisition celebrated its first auto da fe, and the fact that this expression has been adopted in English shows that the Inquisition was largely associated with Portugal. Portugal had the reputation of being the most Catholic country in Europe. In 1640, From 1580 to 1640, Portugal was under Spanish rule. " "Portugal at first kept its Inquisition entirely independent. In 1586, however, Philip II nominated the cardinal archduke Albert of Austria, who was governor of Portugal, as head of the Portuguese Inquisition, so bringing the Portuguese tribunal more in touch with Spain". In brief, the statement that Portuguese were better treated in Portugal than in Spain is open to question.

Ronald Hilton - 12/2/02