New Christian

New Christian

Discussion
Ask a question about 'New Christian'
Start a new discussion about 'New Christian'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
New Christian was a term used to refer to Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

n Jews and Muslims
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 who converted to Roman Catholicism, and their known baptized
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 descendants. The term was introduced by the Old Christians of Iberia who wanted to distinguish themselves from the converso
Converso
A converso and its feminine form conversa was a Jew or Muslim—or a descendant of Jews or Muslims—who converted to Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. Mass conversions once took place under significant government pressure...

s (converts). They sometimes used other derogatory terms to apply to each of the converting groups such as Morisco
Morisco
Moriscos or Mouriscos , meaning "Moorish", were the converted Christian inhabitants of Spain and Portugal of Muslim heritage. Over time the term was used in a pejorative sense applied to those nominal Catholics who were suspected of secretly practicing Islam.-Demographics:By the beginning of the...

s for Moors and Marrano
Marrano
Marranos were Jews living in the Iberian peninsula who converted to Christianity rather than be expelled but continued to observe rabbinic Judaism in secret...

s for Jews.

Throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, Jews and Muslims sometimes converted to Christianity, often as the result of physical, economic, and social pressures or coercion. In the 14th century there was increasing pressure against Jews that culminated in the riots of 1391 in Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 and other cities. These riots caused the destruction of the Jewish courts
Aljama
Aljama is a term of Arabic origin used in old official documents in Spain and Portugal to designate the self-governing communities of Moors and Jews living under Christian rule in the Iberian Peninsula...

 and sparked many conversions, a trend that continued through the 15th century. Unlike the other Iberian kingdoms, Portugal was not much affected by the waves of riots. There, the population of New Christians became numerous after the forced conversions of 1497.

After the expulsion of the Jewish population from Spain
Alhambra decree
The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

 in 1492 and Portugal in 1497, the remaining Jewish population in Iberia became officially Christian. The New Christians were always under suspicion of apostasy
Apostasy
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

.

The governments created the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

 in 1478 and Portuguese Inquisition
Portuguese Inquisition
The Portuguese Inquisition was formally established in Portugal in 1536 at the request of the King of Portugal, João III. Manuel I had asked for the installation of the Inquisition in 1515 to fulfill the commitment of marriage with Maria of Aragon, but it was only after his death that the Pope...

 in 1536 as a way of dealing with social tensions, supposedly justified by the need to fight heresy. Communities believed that many New Christians were secretly reverting to the practices of their former religion and that numerous conversos had become crypto-Jews and crypto-Muslims.

Spanish development of an ideology of cleanliness of blood or descent excluded New Christians from society, regardless of their sincerity as converts. In Portugal, Marquis of Pombal in 1772 decreed an end to the legal distinction between New Christians and Old Christians.

After conversion, New Christians adopted Christian names. Eventually, all Old Christian names were used by New Christians.

See also

  • Morisco
    Morisco
    Moriscos or Mouriscos , meaning "Moorish", were the converted Christian inhabitants of Spain and Portugal of Muslim heritage. Over time the term was used in a pejorative sense applied to those nominal Catholics who were suspected of secretly practicing Islam.-Demographics:By the beginning of the...

    s was a term for New Christians who were former Moors
    Moors
    The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

    . It carried the implication that they still practiced Muslim rituals. Marrano
    Marrano
    Marranos were Jews living in the Iberian peninsula who converted to Christianity rather than be expelled but continued to observe rabbinic Judaism in secret...

    s, Spanish for 'swine' or 'filthy', was used to denote converted Jews.