New Christian or convert was the name given in Portugal, Spain and Brazil to Jews and Muslims converted to Christianity, in contrast to the Old Christians.
There have always been ethnic and religious minorities in Portugal, being Jews, Moors and later Roma, the most significant contingent. The first probably prior to the invasions of the second, and often enjoyed protection and royal favor, mercy of their fortunes and business activities, and to its cultural influence. Inserted in Portugal the farming and fishing, will devote himself to offices or liberal activities (capital trade, science, medicine, pharmacy, crafts, jewelery, shoemaking, tailoring and weaving) and gradually to trade and especially the finance, did not know where big competition, not accessible to the Christian the possibility of interest income through credit under such usury.
Throughout the Middle Ages, inhabited preferably – according to their professional occupations – the largest urban agglomerations of the Kingdom, in their own neighborhoods (Jewish quarters; Mourarias in the case of the Arabs or Moors, fewer), practicing their religion, speaking their language and maintaining their ancestral traditions. Diplomatically, maintained loyalty to the Crown, it is subordinate. Apart from a few incidents, mainly motivated by religious issues, his life in the United did not run great risks never being called into question.
Expulsion of the Jewish community of Portugal
After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1492, about 60,000 Jews who refused to convert to the Christian religion emigrated to Portugal. John II, influenced by prominent Jews in the Court, welcomes them, but requires them to pay eight ducats of ouronota 1, indeed large sum for the time, to remain in Lusitanian lands (those who could not pay this amount saw half of his property confiscated to the Crown). It was intended to fix skilled workers, missing in Portugal. Late John II, succeeded him Manuel, monarch proved tolerant of Jews who could not pay. However, in March 1497, is imposed the expulsion of the Jewish community in Portugal through a law that came into effect that year. To prevent the departure of so many people (and hence capital) of the Kingdom, Manuel decrees forced conversion of Muslims and Jews to Christianity within ten months, thus creating the concept of a New Christian. If not accepted, would have to leave Portugal and its overseas colonies. The measure was an attempt to mix religion in the Iberian peninsula and given in marriage agreement between Manuel and the Infanta Isabella of Aragon, the heir date of the Catholic Monarchs.
In April 1499, one license prohibits the output of the Kingdom to New Christians. However, they were not limited the rise to political or administrative positions and could marry Old Christians. In the time of King Manuel, the New Christian title was not for admission to church or state positions. Despite a degree of freedom of conscience and some royal protection, the situation has taken dramatic contours on Easter 1506. On 19 April, began a popular uprising driven by Dominican friars against the New Christians, which lasted for three days . The crowd moved by religious fanaticism persecuted, raped, tortured and killed hundreds of people accused of being Jewish. This episode, known as the Massacre of Lisbon, stressed the growing anti-Semitism climate in Portugal and led many families to leave the kingdom.
Inquisition of persecution
Some new Christians, however, remained true to their original religion (thus called Marranos or secret Jews) and figured out ways to hide their religious conviction. The sausages, a type of chicken meat filled and other birds, for example were created to mimic the traditional pork sausages, forbidden to the Jews. The failure of the seriousness of many conversions led to John III send install the Inquisition in Portugal in 1536, and the establishment of a distinction of policy towards the New Christians.
In the shadow of the Inquisition, never the New Christians, mostly Jews, were tranquility in Portugal. Continued clandestinely to flee to the Netherlands, Constantinople, North Africa, Thessaloniki, Italy and Brazil, maintaining secret ties and supporting the Portuguese New Christians. Many of the 1,500 deaths of the Portuguese Inquisition were New Christians, as well as much of its 25,000 processes. The Holy Office would influence the disappearance of offices in the regions of Tras-os-Montes and borders, where the Jews were the driving force behind the production of textiles, silk and wool. In addition to the confiscation of property, the New Christians were also victims of blood purification certificates in applications for public office, military or of the Church, that away by having inquisitorial confirmation.