New Christians

   Term applied to Portuguese of Jewish descent who had been converted to Christianity after the 1496 expulsion of Jews law of King Manuel I. Jews had settled in Portugal since the early years of the monarchy, and by the late 15th century, a significant minority of Jews was dominant in agriculture, medicine, crafts, finance, and government. Part of King Manuel's marriage contract with a Spanish princess decreed the expulsion of Jews in Portugal, following what had occurred in Spain in 1492. Those persons who had converted to Christianity after the 1496 expulsion law in order to avoid having to leave Portugal were termed "New Christians" (Cristãos-Novos) to distinguish them from "Old Christians," the remainder of the Christian population. For centuries thereafter, New Christians suffered persecution and discrimination in Portugal, both at the hands of the Inquisition (after 1536) and from other sectors of society. It was not until the laws passed by the Marquis de Pombal regime in the 1770s that official discrimination in holding public office in Portugal was ended in the case of the New Christians. Some New Christians only formally adopted Catholicism and as "Crypto-Jews" practiced corrupted forms of Judaic belief in remote provincial towns such as Belmonte, in Beira Alta province. Such practices continued into the 20th century
   See also Converso; Marrano.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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