A 60-Page Record of the Portuguese Inquisition Goes Online

When Spain expelled its Jews in 1492, thousands of them found refuge in Portugal. But only five years later, King Manuel I presented them, and their Muslim compatriots, with a choice: either be baptized or leave the country. Many Jews accepted Catholicism, but they and their descendants would live under suspicion of secretly adhering to their ancestral faith and practices, attracting the attention of the inquisition. Michael Horovitz explains how a document, recently made available by the National Library of Israel, sheds light on their experience:

The library’s Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People on Wednesday publicized the 60-page document written in Portuguese, which mainly recounts public hearings and executions taking place between 1540 and 1669, most of them in Lisbon called autos-da-fé, which were carried out by the Catholic Church. The manuscript was found in the library’s archives.

The victims detailed in the documents were mostly then-recently converted Christians accused of maintaining their Jewish customs, but also included “Old Christians” found guilty of committing acts of “sodomy, bigamy, possession of forbidden books, and sacrilege,” the library’s statement said.

The [Portuguese] inquisition began in 1536, as a response to a surge of forcibly converted Jews crossing into the country from neighboring Spain, where they were fleeing similar atrocities. The hearings and executions carried on for more than two centuries and were considered acts of penance for the accused. The public spectacles brought large crowds who came to watch the brutal executions carried out, which included so-called sinners being burned alive by the authorities.

The manuscript goes into specific detail about the autos-da-fé, including victim counts, dates, locations, and even the names of the priests who spoke at the public spectacles. The rituals were finally officially abolished in 1821.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Conversos, Inquisition, Portugal

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism