Limpieza de sangre

Limpieza de sangre
Limpieza de sangre is also a novel in the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

Limpieza de sangre (Spanish: [limˈpjeθa ðe ˈsaŋgɾe]), Limpeza de sangue (Portuguese: [lĩˈpezɐ ðɨ ˈsɐ̃gɨ], Galician: [limˈpeθa ðe ˈsaŋge]) or Neteja de sang (Catalan: [nəˈtɛʒə ðə ˈsaŋ]), meaning "cleanliness of blood", played an important role in modern Iberian history. It referred to those who were considered pure "Old Christians", without Jewish or Moorish ancestors.


After the Reconquista

After the end of the Reconquista and the expulsion or conversion of Sephardic Jews and Mudéjars (Moors), the population of Portugal and Spain was all nominally European Christian. However, the ruling class and much of the populace distrusted the recently-converted "New Christians", referring to them as conversos or marranos if they were baptized Jews or descended from them, or Moriscos if they were baptized Muslims or descended from them. A commonly-leveled accusation was that the New Christians were false converts, secretly practicing their former religion as Crypto-Jews or Crypto-Muslims. Nevertheless, the concept of cleanliness of blood came to be more focused on ancestry than of personal religion. The first statute of purity of blood appeared in Toledo, 1449,[1] where an anti-Converso riot succeeded in obtaining a ban on Conversos and their posterity from most official positions. Initially, these statutes were condemned by the monarchy and the Church; however, in 1496, Pope Alexander VI approved a purity statute for the Hieronymite Order.[1]

This stratification meant that the Old Christian commoners could assert a right to honor even if they were not in the nobility. The religious and military orders, guilds and other organizations incorporated in their bylaws clauses demanding proof of cleanliness of blood. Upwardly mobile New Christian families had to either contend with their plight, or bribe and falsify documents attesting generations of good Christian ancestry. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions were more concerned with repressing the New Christians and heresy than chasing witches, which was considered to be more a psychological than a religious issue, or Protestantism, which was promptly suffocated.

The claim to universal hidalguía (lowest nobility) of the Basques was justified by intellectuals like Manuel de Larramendi (1690–1766)[2] because the Moorish conquest of Iberia had not reached the Basque territories, so it was believed that Basques had maintained their original purity, while the rest of Spain was suspect of miscegenation. In fact, the Moorish invasion also reached the Basque country and there had been a significant Jewish minority in Navarre, but the hidalguía helped many Basques to official positions in the administration.[3]

Tests of limpieza de sangre had begun to lose their utility by the 19th century; rarely did persons have to endure the grueling inquisitions into distant parentage through birth records. However, laws requiring limpieza de sangre were still sometimes adopted even into the 19th century. For example, an edict of 8 March 1804 by King Ferdinand VII resolved that no knight of the Military Orders could wed without having a council vouch for the limpieza de sangre of his spouse.[4]

Official suppression of such entry requirements for the Army were enacted into law in 16 May 1865,[5] and extended to naval appointments on 31 August of the same year. In 5 November 1865, a decree allowed children born out of wedlock or illegitimate, for whom ancestry could not be verified, to be able to enter into religious higher education (canons).[6] In 26 October 1866, the test of blood purity were outlawed for the purposes of determining who could be admitted to college education. In 20 March 1870, a decree suppressed all use of blood purity standards in determining eligibility for any government position or any licensed profession.[7]

The discrimination was still present into the 20th century in some places like Majorca. No xueta (descendants of the Majorcan conversos) priests were allowed to say Mass in a cathedral until the 1960s.[8]

Historical genesis of Blue Blood

"It was the Spaniards who gave the world the notion that an aristocrat's blood is not red but blue. The Spanish nobility started taking shape around the ninth century in classic military fashion, occupying land as warriors on horseback. They were to continue the process for more than five hundred years, clawing back sections of the peninsula from its Moorish occupiers, and a nobleman demonstrated his pedigree by holding up his sword arm to display the filigree of blue-blooded veins beneath his pale skin--proof that his birth had not been contaminated by the dark-skinned enemy."
Robert Lacey, Aristocrats. Little, Brown and Company, 1983, p. 6.

Procedure to judge Purity of Blood

The earliest known case judging Limpieza de Sangre comes from the Church of Cordoba, that explained the procedure to judge the purity of blood of a candidate as follows: Kneeling, with his right hand placed over the image of a crucifix on a Bible, the candidate confirmed not being either of either Jewish or Moorish extraction. Then the candidate provided the names of the parents and grandparents, as well as places of birth. Two delegates of the council, church or other public place would then research the information to make sure it was truthful. If the investigation had to be carried out of Cordoba, a person, not necessarily a member of the council would be appointed to examine the witnesses appointed by the candidate. This researcher would receive a sum per diem according to the rank of the person, the distance traveled and the time spent. Having collected all the reports, the secretary or the notary must read them all to the council and a vote would decide whether the candidate was approved. A simple majority was sufficient, after which the candidate had to promise to obey all the laws and customs of the Church. [9]

Spanish colonies

Being a medieval concept that targeted exclusively the Jewish or Moorish population in Spain, Limpieza de sangre was never an issue among the native population in the colonies of the Spanish Empire. However, those who pretended[clarification needed] to enroll at the service of the Spanish Army or the Catholic Church in the Spanish colonies and their spouses had to obtain a certificate in the same way as those in the Peninsula did, that proved that they had no Jewish or Moorish ancestors.

Additionally, as early as the sixteenth century, shortly after the discovery of America, several regulations were enacted in the Laws of the Indies to prevent members of those religious groups and their descendants to emigrate and settle in the overseas colonies. These provisions are repeatedly stressed upon on following editions of the Laws, which provides an indication that the regulations were often ignored,[10] most likely because colonial authorities at the time looked the other way, as the skills of those immigrants were badly needed.

See also

  • The discussion of Casta makes it appear as if differentiation based upon privileges applied only to the distinction between mulattos, blacks and others in Nueva España. However, originally limpieza de sangre was used in the Iberian Peninsula to distinguish clearly between Spaniards and Moors/Jews.
  • Caste system


  1. ^ a b Estatutos de Limpieza de Sangre, Pablo A. Chami.
  2. ^ Manuel de Larramendi, Corografía de la muy noble y muy leal provincia de Guipúzcoa, Bilbao, 1986, facsimile edition of that from Editorial Ekin, Buenos Aires, 1950. (Also published by Tellechea Idígoras, San Sebastián, 1969.) Quoted in La idea de España entre los vascos de la Edad Moderna, by Jon Arrieta Alberdi, Anales 1997-1998, Real Sociedad Económica Valenciana de Amigos del País.
  3. ^ Limpieza de sangre in the Spanish-language Auñamendi Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Codigos Españoles Tome X. Page 225
  5. ^ Colección Legislativa de España (1870), p. 364
  6. ^ Colección Legislativa de España (1870), page 365
  7. ^ Colección Legislativa de España (1870), page 366
  8. ^ Los judíos en España, Joseph Pérez. Marcial Pons. Madrid (2005).
  9. ^ Sicroff, Albert A.. Los estatutos de Limpieza de Sangre. pp. 121. 
  10. ^ Avrum Ehrlich, Mark (2009). Encyclopedia of the Jewish diaspora: origins, experiences, and culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 689. ISBN 1851098739. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • LIMPIEZA DE SANGRE — (Sp., purity of blood ), an obsessive concern in Spain and Portugal from the 15th century, based on the mythical goal of a society in which all but the most humble functions would be exercised by pure blooded Christians. In varying degrees this… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Limpieza De Sangre — La limpieza de sangre (espagnol) ou Limpeza de sangue en portugais – « pureté de sang » en français – est un concept qui s est développé en Espagne et au Portugal à partir de la fin du XVe siècle. Il renvoie à la qualité de vieux… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Limpieza de sangre — La limpieza de sangre (en espagnol) ou limpeza de sangue (en portugais), qui signifie « pureté de sang », est un concept qui s est développé en Espagne et au Portugal à partir de la fin du XVe siècle. Il renvoie à la qualité de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Limpieza de sangre — Para otros usos de este término, véase estatutos de limpieza de sangre. Limpieza de sangre es una novela escrita por el español Arturo Pérez Reverte. Es la segunda entrega de la colección Las aventuras del capitán Alatriste y fue publicada en… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Limpieza de sangre — ► locución HISTORIA 1. Condición de la persona que no tenía antepasados judíos, árabes o castigados por la inquisición. 2. Hecho de no tener una familia antepasados que puedan ser considerados deshonrosos para ella. * * * Limpieza de sangre es… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Estatutos de limpieza de sangre — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Los Estatutos de limpieza de sangre fueron el mecanismo de discriminación legal hacia las minorías conversas bajo sospecha de practicar en secreto sus antiguas religiones marranos en el caso de los ex judíos y… …   Wikipedia Español

  • limpieza — sustantivo femenino 1. Acción y resultado de limpiar: Siempre me ha gustado la limpieza de esta ciudad. El martes haremos la limpieza del piso nuevo. Fue al dentista para hacerse una limpieza de boca. mujer* de la limpieza. limpieza en seco… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • sangre — (Del lat. sanguis, ĭnis). 1. f. Líquido, generalmente de color rojo, que circula por las arterias y venas del cuerpo de los animales. Se compone de una parte líquida o plasma y de células en suspensión: hematíes, leucocitos y plaquetas. Su… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • limpieza — 1. f. Cualidad de limpio. 2. Acción y efecto de limpiar. 3. Pureza, castidad. 4. Integridad con que se procede en los negocios. 5. Precisión, destreza, perfección con que se ejecuta algo. 6. En un juego, observación estricta de sus reglas. 7.… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • limpieza — ► sustantivo femenino 1 Estado de la persona o cosa que no tiene manchas o suciedad: ■ me sorprendió la limpieza que se observaba en las calles de la ciudad . SINÓNIMO aseo pulcritud ANTÓNIMO suciedad 2 Acción y resultado de limpiar o limpiarse:… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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