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.

Read more at Times of Israel

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

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship