A converso (Spanish: [komˈbersos], Portuguese: [kõˈveɾsuʃ], Galician: [komˈbeɾsos], Catalan: [kumˈbɛrsus] or [komˈvɛɾsos]; "a convert", from Latin conversvs, "converted, turned around") 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. The Treaty of Granada (1491) at the last surrender of Al-Andalus issued clear protections of religious rights; the Alhambra Decree (1492) began the reversal.
See the main articles:
- Morisco (Galician and Portuguese Mourisco) for new Christians of Moorish origin. The term morisco may also refer to Crypto-Muslims, i.e. those who secretly continued to practice Islam.
- Marrano for new Christians of Jewish origin. The term marrano may also refer to Crypto-Jews, i.e. those who secretly continued to practice Judaism.
Conversos were subject to suspicion and harassment from both the community they were leaving and that which they were joining. Both Christians and Jews called them tornadizo (renegade). James I, Alfonso X and John I passed laws forbidding the use of this epithet. This was part of a larger pattern of royal protection, as laws were promulgated to protect their property, forbid attempts to reconvert them, and regulate the behavior of the conversos themselves, preventing their cohabitation or even dining with Jews, lest they convert back.
The conversos did not enjoy legal equality. Alfonso VII prohibited the "recently converted" from holding office in Toledo. They had both supporters and bitter opponents within the Christian secular and religious leadership. Conversos could be found in various roles within the Iberian kingdoms, from bishop to royal mistress, showing a degree of general acceptance, yet they became targets of occasional pogroms during times of extreme social tension (as during an epidemic and after an earthquake). They were subject to the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions.
While pure blood (so-called limpieza de sangre) would come to be placed at a premium, particularly among the nobility, in a 15th-century defense of conversos, Bishop Lope de Barrientos would list what Roth calls "a veritable 'Who's Who' of Spanish nobility" as having converso members or being of converso descent. He pointed out that given the near-universal conversion of Iberian Jews during Visigothic times, (quoting Roth) "[W]ho among the Christians of Spain could be certain that he is not a descendant of those conversos?"
History of Al-Andalus
711–732 Muslim conquest
756–1031 Omayyads of Córdoba
1009–1106 First Taifa period
1085–1145 Almoravid rule
- Almoravid conquest
- Battle of Sagrajas
1140-1203 Second Taifa period
1147–1238 Almohad rule
1232–1287 Third Taifa period
1238–1492 Emirate of Granada
- Map of Al-Andalus
According to a widely publicised study (December 2008) published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, 19.8 percent of modern Spaniards (and Portuguese) have DNA reflecting Sephardic Jewish ancestry (compared to 10.6 percent having DNA reflecting Moorish ancestors). The Sephardic result is in contradiction  or not replicated in all the body of genetic studies done in Iberia and has been relativized by the authors themselves and questioned by Stephen Oppenheimer who estimates that much earlier migrations, 5,000 to 10,000 years ago from the Eastern Mediterranean, might also have accounted for the Sephardic estimates. "They are really assuming that they are looking at this migration of Jewish immigrants, but the same lineages could have been introduced in the Neolithic". The same authors in also a recent study (October 2008) attributed most of those same lineages in Iberia and the Balearic Islands as of Phoenician origin. The rest of genetic studies done in Spain estimate the Moorish contribution ranging from 2.5/3.4% to 7.7%.
- ^ a b Adams, Susan M.; Bosch, Elena; Balaresque, Patricia L.; Ballereau, Stéphane J.; Lee, Andrew C.; Arroyo, Eduardo; López-Parra, Ana M.; Aler, Mercedes et al. (2008). "The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula". The American Journal of Human Genetics 83 (6): 725–36. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007. PMC 2668061. PMID 19061982. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2668061.
- ^ Flores, Carlos; Maca-Meyer, Nicole; González, Ana M; Oefner, Peter J; Shen, Peidong; Pérez, Jose A; Rojas, Antonio; Larruga, Jose M et al. (2004). "Reduced genetic structure of the Iberian peninsula revealed by Y-chromosome analysis: Implications for population demography". European Journal of Human Genetics 12 (10): 855–63. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201225. PMID 15280900.
- ^ González, Ana M.; Brehm, Antonio; Pérez, José A.; Maca-Meyer, Nicole; Flores, Carlos; Cabrera, Vicente M. (2003). "Mitochondrial DNA affinities at the Atlantic fringe of Europe". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 120 (4): 391–404. doi:10.1002/ajpa.10168. PMID 12627534.
- ^ Sutton, Wesley K.; Knight, Alec; Underhill, Peter A.; Neulander, Judith S.; Disotell, Todd R.; Mountain, Joanna L. (2006). "Toward resolution of the debate regarding purported crypto-Jews in a spanish-American population: Evidence from the Y chromosome". Annals of Human Biology 33 (1): 100–11. doi:10.1080/03014460500475870. PMID 16500815.
- ^ "La cifra de los sefardíes puede estar sobreestimada, ya que en estos genes hay mucha diversidad y quizá absorbieron otros genes de Oriente Medio" ("The Sephardic result may be overestimated, since there is much diversity in those genes and maybe absorbed other genes from the Middle East"). ¿Pone en duda Calafell la validez de los tests de ancestros? “Están bien para los americanos, nosotros ya sabemos de dónde venimos” (Puts Calafell in doubt the validity of ancestry tests? "They can be good for the Americans, we already know from where we come from). " 
- ^ “We think it might be an over estimate" "The genetic makeup of Sephardic Jews is probably common to other Middle Eastern populations, such as the Phoenicians, that also settled the Iberian Peninsula, Calafell says. “In our study, that would have all fallen under the Jewish label.”” http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/39056/title/Spanish_Inquisition_couldn%E2%80%99t_quash_Moorish,_Jewish_genes
- ^ "El doctor Calafell matiza que (...) los marcadores genéticos usados para distinguir a la población con ancestros sefardíes pueden producir distorsiones". "ese 20% de españoles que el estudio señala como descendientes de sefardíes podrían haber heredado ese rasgo de movimiento más antiguos, como el de los fenicios o, incluso, primeros pobladores neolíticos hace miles de años." "Dr. Calafell clarifies that (...) the genetic markers used to distinguish the population with Sephardim ancestry may produce distortions" "that 20% of Spaniards that are accounted as having Sephardim ancestry in the study could have inherited that same marker from older movements like the Phoenicians, or even the first Neolithic settlers thousand of years ago" http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2008/12/04/ciencia/1228409780.html
- ^ http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16200-spanish-inquisition-left-genetic-legacy-in-iberia.html
- ^ Zalloua, Pierre A.; Platt, Daniel E.; El Sibai, Mirvat; Khalife, Jade; Makhoul, Nadine; Haber, Marc; Xue, Yali; Izaabel, Hassan et al. (2008). "Identifying Genetic Traces of Historical Expansions: Phoenician Footprints in the Mediterranean". The American Journal of Human Genetics 83 (5): 633–42. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.10.012. PMC 2668035. PMID 18976729. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2668035.
- ^ Dupanloup, I.; Bertorelle, G; Chikhi, L; Barbujani, G (2004). "Estimating the Impact of Prehistoric Admixture on the Genome of Europeans". Molecular Biology and Evolution 21 (7): 1361–72. doi:10.1093/molbev/msh135. PMID 15044595.
- ^ Capelli, Cristian; Onofri, Valerio; Brisighelli, Francesca; Boschi, Ilaria; Scarnicci, Francesca; Masullo, Mara; Ferri, Gianmarco; Tofanelli, Sergio et al. (2009). "Moors and Saracens in Europe: estimating the medieval North African male legacy in southern Europe". European Journal of Human Genetics 17 (6): 848–52. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.258. PMC 2947089. PMID 19156170. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2947089.
- Gitlitz, David. 'Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews', Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.
- Brooks, Andrée Aelion. 'The Woman who Defied Kings: the life and times of Dona Gracia Nasi'. Paragon House, 2002.
- Roth, Norman, Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.
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