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
80525560 0eb2c1d54a o.jpg

711–732 Muslim conquest

756–1031 Omayyads of Córdoba

1009–1106 First Taifa period

1085–1145 Almoravid rule

1140-1203 Second Taifa period

1147–1238 Almohad rule

1232–1287 Third Taifa period

1238–1492 Emirate of Granada

connected articles
History of Spain
Coat of Arms of Spain
This article is part of a series
Early History
Prehistoric Iberia
Roman Hispania
Medieval Spain
Visigothic Kingdom
Kingdom of Asturias
Suebic Kingdom
Byzantine Spania
Kingdom of Spain
Age of Expansion
Age of Enlightenment
Reaction and Revolution
First Spanish Republic
The Restoration
Second Spanish Republic
Under Franco
Spanish Civil War
Francoist Spain
Modern Spain
Transition to Democracy
Modern Spain
Economic History
Military History

Spain Portal
v · d · e

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).[1] The Sephardic result is in contradiction [2][3][4] or not replicated in all the body of genetic studies done in Iberia and has been relativized by the authors themselves[1][5][6][7] 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".[8] 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.[9] The rest of genetic studies done in Spain estimate the Moorish contribution ranging from 2.5/3.4%[10] to 7.7%.[11]

See also

  • Anusim
  • Crypto-Jew
  • Crypto-Muslim


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "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). " [1]
  6. ^ “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.””,_Jewish_genes
  7. ^ "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"
  8. ^
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ 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. 


  • 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.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • converso (1) — {{hw}}{{converso (1)}{{/hw}}part. pass.  di convergere ; anche agg. (raro) Volto. converso (2) {{hw}}{{converso (2)}{{/hw}}A part. pass.  di convertire ; anche agg. Convertito. B s. m.  (f. a ) Laico che provvede a lavori manuali in un convento …   Enciclopedia di italiano

  • converso — converso, sa adjetivo,sustantivo masculino y femenino 1. Que se ha convertido al cristianismo: un judío converso. Los conversos no siempre eran mirados con simpatía. 2. Pragmática: peyorativo. Que ha aceptado una ideología diferente a la que… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Converso — puede designar a: El que ha efectuado una conversión religiosa, desde el punto de vista de la religión a la que se incorpora. Un renegado o un apóstata, desde el punto de vista de la religión que abandona. Un cristiano nuevo, denominación… …   Wikipedia Español

  • converso — /kon vɛrso/ agg. [dal lat. conversus, part. pass. di convertĕre convertire ], non com. [che ha subìto una trasformazione] ▶◀ convertito, mutato, tramutato, trasformato. ◀▶ identico, immutato, uguale. ▲ Locuz. prep.: lett., per converso ▶◀ al… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • Converso — Équivalent italien du français Convers (voir Convert). Le nom est rare, porté notamment dans le Piémont et en Calabre. Le pluriel Conversi est lui aussi rare (Émilie Romagne, Lazio). Rencontrée en Savoie, la forme Conversy devrait en être une… …   Noms de famille

  • converso — converso, sa adjetivo y sustantivo confeso. * * * Sinónimos: ■ neófito, catecúmeno, confeso, cristianizado Antónimos: ■ apóstata, renegado …   Diccionario de sinónimos y antónimos

  • converso — |é| s. m. 1. Convertido. 2. Leigo de ordem religiosa. 3. Locutório; conversação …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • converso — converso, sa (Del lat. conversus). 1. adj. Dicho de un musulmán o de un judío: Convertido al cristianismo. U. t. c. s.) 2. m. En algunas órdenes y congregaciones religiosas, lego (ǁ profeso sin opción al sacerdocio) …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • converso — {{#}}{{LM C10356}}{{〓}} {{SynC10604}} {{[}}converso{{]}}, {{[}}conversa{{]}} ‹con·ver·so, sa› {{《}}▍ adj./s.{{》}} {{<}}1{{>}} {{♂}}Referido a una persona,{{♀}} que ha adoptado otra religión, especialmente referido a musulmanes o judíos que se… …   Diccionario de uso del español actual con sinónimos y antónimos

  • Converso — Als Converso (pl. Conversos) wurden im spanischen und portugiesischen Sprachraum zum katholischen Christentum konvertierte Juden und deren Nachkommen bezeichnet. Konvertiten aus der maurischen Bevölkerung, die vom Islam zum Katholizismus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”