1. The problem of cryptojudaism in Spain

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The subject of cryptojudaism in Spain has been consciously and voluntarily avoided, not having the slightest idea of the existence of the converted problem, without whose knowledge it is not possible to understand the history of Spain, nor to explain the events that are taking place at present (1). Hence the imperative need, if we may, the urgency, to bring to light such an important and transcendental question, to divulge it, to study it calmly and carefully, to refresh the historical memory, so broken and forgotten by the Spanish people, so that one of the great hidden enigmas of our past that most restlessness and rancor has oozed out against the national and the Christian can be known.

Not knowing where the enemy is is to be condemned beforehand to be annihilated by the enemy (2) and therefore the law and the clarification, the unmasking and the bet on the stage will be the first stage of liberation.

The Jew Roth does not exaggerate when he writes that the "history of the new Christians constitutes an inseparable part of that of Portugal and Spain in the period of their greatest brilliance (3) being an essential fragment of church history, with extensive connections to politics, literature and economics. So much so that the same author continues that "the classic country of cryptojudaism is Spain. The tradition has been so long and general there that it is to be suspected the existence of a brownish predisposition in the very atmosphere of the country" (4).

 Julio Caro Baroja (5) investigates that the examination of the Greek voice "Kryptós" and of the Latin "secretus" the dictionaries give us the following meanings: 1) covered or concealed; 2) hidden, dark, unintelligible; 3) dissimulated, deceitful. For this reason, Hispanic Judaism acquires the character of something hidden when it is outside the law and when it becomes hidden it also presents the well-known features of mendacity and dissimulation.

The converted Jews who continued to observe the Jewish rites in secret are called "marranos", which, according to Covarrubias, the origin of this word is to be found in the speech of the Moors, who called the one-year-old pig "marrano". Other authors make it derive from the verb marrar, from the Latin aberrare, to deviate from what is right, which is why this term was coined in Spain at the beginning of the 15th century to designate the new Christians who deviated "from the good path initiated with the conversion" keeping the Hebrew ritual underhand and hidden. Others have tried to derive the word from the Arabic root murain (6) which means hypocrite, or to die, apostate. It is also related to another Hebrew word, muranita, which was the stick used to punish the excommunicated, although in any case, marrano is equivalent to pig or pig in Spanish.

Crypto-Jews are the clandestine Jews who in public appear to be Muslims, Christians or of another religion, but who are secretly Jews. They were the false converts. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for a Jew, man or woman, to convert sincerely and truly to another religion; when they do so falsely, they become spies or agents of infiltration or control in the religion they falsely adopt (7).

 According to Heine "The actions and gestures of the Jews, as well as their customs, are things ignored by everyone. They think they know them because they have seen their beards; but they have seen nothing more than that and, as in the Middle Ages, the Jews remain a walking mystery. The poet Heine was a Jew and knew what to expect. But the fact that the problem is not known does not mean that it does not exist, which happens to be an unknown problem is not understood.

Keep in mind that Judaism is indelible: there is no baptism of water or blood that erases it. The apostates of Judaism are rare, although many pretend to abandon it in order to serve it better (9). It does not matter that one has been baptized. A baptized Jew does not thereby cease to be a Jew, for it is permissible for him to deceive "idolaters" by making them believe that they belong to his cult, for this is prescribed by his blessed Yore of Ah. (10) For crypto Jews, water baptism does not erase the baptism of blood in the Synagogue.

 Thus speaks the Lord God, through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah (111:10) when he says that "the wicked Judah hath not returned unto me with all his heart; he hath done it with a false heart. Therefore, in whatever nation he lives, and though behind him there have been twenty generations born in that land, the Jew always feels himself to be a captive, like his ancestors on the banks of the rivers of Babylon. (11).

  The fictitious transhumance of religion begins in Spain from 1391, date in which there are tens of thousands of new Christians who apparently enter to form part of the Church, having made estimates and calculations of the Jewish-converted population in the fifteenth century that oscillated between 250,000 and 300,000 people (12). And if the problem of converts was already serious, it became even more so after 1492 with the avalanche of new conversions that took place (13) that no one could be convinced of their sincerity.

This flood of Jewish converts gave rise to the birth of a new class, that of the converts, who soon and from their new status and situation began to climb, hoarding wealth and honor. (14)

  The converts continued in their immense majority to Judaize, having as Christians only the name, keeping intact their relationship with the Mosaic Law in their intimacy, and among those of their race who inspired confidence in it. Around 1460 they founded a kind of sect that had a certain importance and whose motto could be summarized as follows: "in this world you will not see me suffer, in the other you will not see me executed". (15) They had two faces, two faces, two names, two personalities, only one root and only one blind obedience.

 The Jews throughout the Middle Ages, because they were collectively responsible for the sin of Deicide, were repelled by the people who also considered them usurers, cunning, arrogant and ungrateful-looking. (16) When, for various reasons, they asked for baptism, it was suspected that they were doing so without any faith, which did not prevent that, since many of the false converts were from "rich and wealthy families, there would soon be a number of personalities of all kinds very well situated within Christian society, coming from among the newly converted. (17) These neophytes were usually apostates and hypocrites.

The said crypto-Jews remained faithful to their home ritualism, keeping a more or less limited number of beliefs and prescriptions, within the Talmudic tradition, adjusting to a social structure that would allow them to live with a minimum of guarantees, Even practicing inbreeding and contracting marriage between relatives to maintain cohesion and secrecy, so that, for Julio Caro Baroja, from the end of the fifteenth century until the beginning of the eighteenth, the great cities of Spain were full of these crypto Jews who gave the Jewish problem itself a more mysterious and equivocal air. (18) In the 19th century, Pérez Galdós picked up the tradition that a large part of the merchant families settled around Madrid's Plaza Mayor were descendants of Jews, and that a crypto-Jewish society subsisted in Spain at all times, which decided "the economic destinies of young and old alike" (19).
 Baptism -a formal ceremony for many Jews- is one thing, but true conversion itself is another. Baptized Jews were still Jews, but in a different way. They were baptized without conversion. There was a mixture of formal Christianity, even exaggerated on the outside, and the clandestine practice of Jewish rites, hiding the secret faith from their own children, only to reveal it to them later, when they were thought capable of keeping the secret. (20) The converts stubbornly resisted in their religious ambiguity.
For a prestigious historian (21), the crypto Jews had only one desire: to get rich as soon as possible, emigrate their wealth and flee Spain; their desire was to escape to the Jewish quarters of Amsterdam or Bayonne and to live again in peace with their conscience as public Jews, so that "that crypto Jewish machine that governed the Spanish economy worked backwards. It was an engine no less powerful than in other times, but its effectiveness was expressed in negative effects, from the point of view of national interests".
The perversion of the inner crypto-Jewish group was undeniable as a pressure group and controller of Spanish economic interests. For Fernández Suárez (22), Spanish crypto-Jews were in communication with external centres resolutely devoted to destroying the Spanish empire through politics and war, and to sucking -it was also a way of destroying it- its financial resources. In this way the danger to the nation, which had been tried to avoid with religious unity, became much more acute and active as an apparatus was created that worked against the interests of the country, inside and outside, effectively organized, and whose destructive dynamism was nourished in the perpetuation of the conflict secularly maintained and stimulated by the reactions that the conflict itself provoked from one side or the other". One more resource of cryptojudaism was its mimicry to be embedded, in its genuine and secret folds, in the traditional Spanish society, in which the rich converts -and even more so if they were crypto-Jews- sought the support of a noble lineage, sometimes buying it, pure and simple.
For Sombart, the sudden multiplication of false Christians is such an extraordinary phenomenon, so unique in the history of mankind, that one is astonished and stupefied every time one has the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject, because of that unheard of and singular struggle where the most congenital dissimulation and the most tenacious perseverance were its best resources. The crypto Jews did not depart from Judaism except in appearance, as combatants who adopted the camouflage of their enemies' uniforms and flew their flag with the intention of attacking them with greater security and to annihilate them with more vigor.
The assimilated Christian could refrain from thinking in Hebrew or from reading Jewish books, but in the essential character of all his passions and of all his acts he remained intimately and intrinsically Jewish, because the Jew cannot change "even if he wishes to" and whatever he does, as L. confirms. Lewisohn confirms.

The processes of the Holy Office against the crypto-Jews from the 15th to the 19th century amount to 30,847 known processes and 37,862 the total estimated number of processes according to the  breakdown found in reference (23).

 For the crypto-Jews "the Christian priests were vile persecutors of the chosen people and retained their hatred of all things Christian", so they used the mask of the Christian religion to continue to materialize their business by trying to go unnoticed externally and continuing to weave an underground internal network.
The problem of cryptojudaism has not been a circumstantial issue of a particular moment in history, nor can it be specified to the surroundings of March 31, 1492 when the signature was stamped on the expulsion decree or alternatively the choice of baptism to remain residing in the kingdoms. There were Jewish converts prior to the Decree of Expulsion because as early as 1480 "two rabbis visited Guadalupe to ascertain whether the converts there were adequately observing Judaism" (24) In the 17th century the problem of Judaism still remained. (25) The Spanish convert is reflected in our literature by adopting clothing and garments of a thousand characterizations. In Rinconete y Cotadillo, Cervantes narrates the adventures of a Sevillian Jew who, dressed as a clergyman, was dedicated to committing all kinds of swindles, falsehoods and deceits, a character who "seems to have been torn from reality" (26).
Quevedo tells us about the vicissitudes and misdeeds, about the bending and typology of the false Christians in many of his works, since there were many Jews who were concealed and carried their insincerity with great concealment.
In the time of Philip V, the processes against the Spanish Judaizers reappeared and were repeated, and as an example we see how in a court of faith held in Toledo on March 19, 1721, several Judaizers left the land and in that same year, on May 18, in Madrid, Judaizers from those areas appeared in a court of faith.
George Borrow, an English traveller who travelled around Spain in 1836, in his work The bible of Spain reflects his impression when he first saw Mendizábal thinking to himself "I have seen a glance very similar to that amongst the Beni Israel". And he was not wrong at all. Borrow gives us in his works a synthesis of the Spanish crypto-Judaism that Caro Baroja establishes in the following points:

    1. Crypto-Judaism has two names: one for when it walks among the Christians, and the other, that of its lineage and its Hebrew family.
    2. Crypto-Jewish knows two languages.
    3. Crypto Jews have two families, with two women. One is the one to whom he is legally married; the other is the "friend. But for him it is really both wives. This system of bigamy is common among North African Jews.
    4. Crypto-Jewish is ill-considered; it is suspect to the people. But he is on good terms with influential and rich people because his usurious business gives him economic strength. He also has bought the lower agents of justice as bailiffs and bracelets.
    5. The crypto-Jew knows those who are of the same condition as him and is aware of the religious status of certain lineages.
    6. There are crypto-Jews in all social ranks from humble servants to archbishops of the Catholic Church (27).

In fact, the pig was the metamorphosis of public Judaism in secret, which made it more dangerous and difficult to detect, transmitting its underground faith from "parents to children". (28) Pérez Galdós in his work also gives us multiple examples of the survival of cryptojudaism in the tunnels of the Spanish society of the 19th century, as it was sharply noted by Mercedes Formica (29) when she detected that her critical characters revealed to us the enigmatic "Fortunata and Jacinta" where Santa Cruz is a Jewish surname, like Santa María, like Aguado...discovering that the care that the mother of Santa Cruz and her faithful squire put in today's shopping basket comes from the family's concern for buying Kasher food, that is, food, ritually sacrificed and for Jewish slaughtermen, also highlighting the marriage of Juanillo with the fuzzy and kind Jacinta as a union between beings of the same race and where Jewish racism appears. Jacinta's devotion means nothing, however Christian it may be. The Hebrew background remains... Galdós represents in his work the secret Hispanic Judaism.
Crypto-Judaism has lasted until our days. We find an irrefutable testimony in the newspaper ABC of March 23rd 1969 where, under the title of The problems of our Sephardic minorities, a letter dated February 2nd of that same year is transcribed from Miss Judith who writes from Madrid to the writer Mercedes Formica and "taking into account her breadth of spirit, I begged him for a few lines in the ABC pages that would serve to dispel my doubts and those of not a few people who have the same problem about the position that we Spaniards should adopt in this new era of religious freedom who, for one reason or another, can consider ourselves crypto-Jews for reasons of family heritage or tradition... I am from Burgos - the letter continues. I was orphaned as a child and educated by my great-grandmother. She was from a noble family, practicing Judaism in an innocent, lyrical, pure way, feeling bound to her ancestors, some of whom were victimized, she claimed, by the Inquisition. Their influence caused me to follow in secret, naturally, their same Mosaic religion. As the crypto-Jewish groups have been closely related for centuries, I can say that it was natural that, as time went by, I married an Andalusian gentleman, also a Jew, who had great influence in the closed Hebrew circles of Granada and Malaga. On the contrary, my husband's brother, the youngest, is a Catholic priest... since the Council, he accepted that we practice the religion that according to our conscience was the true one... I will not say that there are millions of us Spaniards who have been practicing the Hebrew religion for five centuries, but we are more numerous than people - and the State - suppose. The story in the first person is definitive. The nucleus of crypto-Jews was very numerous right from the start, so we are not surprised by Mrs Judith's final conclusion.
Rabbi Abraham ben Solomon of Tourrutiel wrote in his Book of Betrayal that in the year 5172 (1412-1413 according to the Christian calendar) more than 200,000 Jews had been baptized on the occasion of the preaching of Saint Vincent Ferrer, although, naturally, "one must always be wary of mass conversions and even more so when dealing with Jews".
Mariano Sículo says: "they began to live as Christians. But later, as time passed, by diabolic persuasion or by the conversation they had with the Jews who had remained in their law, or because it is difficult to leave the things they are accustomed to - because the nature of men, who do not know how to change, when they know their crimes they recognize virtue and become better, then later, as inconstant and without firmness - they hardly turn to their sinister and accustomed customs. So, thinking the new Christians that Christ was not the one God was to send, and the one they expected, repenting of their conversion, they despised the Christian religion and celebrated in secret places in their homes on the Sabbath, entering their synagogues at night and honoring their Passover feasts (30).
The converts meant more to the people than a theoretical mock Christianity. They assumed a tremendously practical misunderstanding regarding the social and economic problem that suffocated them, because the people considered these baptized Jews as "adulterers pretending to be unbelievers and infidels, fathers of all covetousness, sowers of all weeds and divisions, abundant in all malice and perversity, always ungrateful to their God, contrary to his commandments, turned away from their ways and careers, as the psalmist Moses testifies in Deuteronomy (31) (the quotation is taken from the answer to the introduction of the account made by the bachelor Marquitos, in the events of the City of Toledo against the converts from the year 1449, which was the robbery called by Pedro Sarmiento, until the year 1467, in which the clergy was removed against them, whose manuscript is in the National Library of Madrid, manuscript 2041, on page 18 r-v)
The Jewish writer Cecil Roth, in spite of his anti-Christian phobia, lets the reality shine through in some paragraphs when he writes that "the populace that was becoming more and more inflamed, could not appreciate the theological subtleties and in the pigs he saw only the hypocritical Jews, (32) The people thus lost patience and demanded by force, since peaceful means failed, the removal of the converts from public life. As Friar Alonso de la Espina said in his Sentinel against the Jews, the only division was that of "public Jews and hidden Jews: for the purposes of this, all Jews.
The converts form a very important population nucleus, much more than one might think. It should not be forgotten that the Spanish Inquisition was born, precisely against the false converts, against the fifth column in the Church, against the infiltrators, who at the beginning of their actions, except for rare and rare occasions, are all "Marranos". It is necessary to note that in many acts of faith there are important names and "distinguished" Semitic families that are rabidly anti-Christian, with the "marranos" forming a true social cyst. (34)
Among the customs of the Judaizers were the following:

    1. Adopting Jewish wet nurses to feed infants
    2. Change and adopt several names
    3. Wash the newly baptized, as soon as they return from baptism to "disinfect" them
    4. Celebrate a double wedding. Inbreeding was the norm
    5. Manifest an infinite hatred for Christ
    6. Denial of the Mother of God's virginity
    7. Close your windows and spit on the Cross at Easter
    8. Slag the crucifix
    9. Commission of certain ritual crimes (Sto. Niño de la Guardia, Sto. Dominguito del Val, etc)
    10. Desecrating sacred forms
    11. Insulting Christians
    12. Secret practice of Hebrew rites. Do not sanctify yourself. Pray the Semah
    13. External drunkenness, far from true religiosity.
    14. Disregarding the work of the farm
    15. Feeling of "social group"
    16. Practice circumcision.
    17. Refrain from eating "forbidden meats", derived from pork. Do not use lard for stews. Refrain from rabbit.
    18. Keep the Saturday. Fasting to keep
    19. Wash the dead and shave them. Shackle them with clean clothes. Put a coin in their mouth. Place a head of earth.
    20. Engage in trade, profit and financial activities.
    21. To monopolize ecclesiastical positions and dignities.
    22. To accumulate wealth
    23. Pretending and buying titles.
    24. Playing the so-called "Jesus game.
    25. Being buried in virgin soil.
    26. Keeping the fast of Yom Kippur, Judith, Esther and the moons of March 14, June 9, July 9, September 10, December 11 and February 11.
    27. Change the linen and move the underwear on Fridays.
    28. Cut your nails and put them in the ground.
    etc, etc...
From the political point of view, we find in the converts where a conspiracy or an intrigue arises. As an example, let's cite the participation of the marrano estate in the communal movement. Among other leaders we could list Juan Padilla, married to Maria Pacheco, a descendant of Jews, Juan Bravo, married, likewise, with the Jewish convert Maria Lopez Coronel, granddaughter of Abraham Senior, Alfonso de Saravia, Pedro de Acuña - brother-in-law of Padilla - Iñigo Lopez Coronel, the financial father-in-law of Bravo...
The strength of the converts was to know how to keep silent, to conjure themselves up in secret, to cover up their dealings with strange looks and to continue surreptitiously professing their Jewish fanaticism, forming part of the secret Hebrew communities of each country and blindly obeying their leaders in Cahal in order to take possession, without their intention being perceived, of the country where they live and acting only for the benefit of those of their race and of what Israel represents.
The problem of conversions has brought with it an added and no less negligible difficulty from the point of view of the influence exerted on Spain which has been, not the presence of a greater or lesser number of Israelites throughout history in the Iberian Peninsula, but precisely their conversion, for if the Jews had not converted, they would have become less mixed up and their influence and position would have been more detected and perhaps less, For when the Jews converted, they had an easy way of gaining access to the high ecclesiastical hierarchies from where they exercised their influence and reached pre-eminent positions in the nobility, thus modifying Spanish society from within and inoculating the "Jewish soul", the "Jewish spirit", since the convert could not eliminate the Jew within him.
The Israelite influence, which would have been external and incidental if the convert problem had not existed, became "existential". The penetration was subtle and intimate, because do not forget that the Jew who penetrated the Spanish spirit was precisely the convert and the peculiar psychology of the convert not spontaneous, but forced in his intimacy by external pressure, fear or convenience.
There is no doubt that the Spain prior to the convert phenomenon was simpler in its emotional expressions, more joyful, more carefree than the later Spain which adopted a more somber and citrine air due to the submersion of the converts in its fibers and entrails.
The revenge of the violated and false convert was terrible: (35) "his spirit, tormented and deformed, took possession of the Spanish soul and has not yet abandoned its prey.
The crypto-Jew zealously guarded in the depths of his soul four feelings: an excessive ambition, an insatiable greed, an eternal rancor, and an unquenchable hatred, (36) which are the four feelings of the Jewish soul: the ambition to dominate the world; the greed to possess all riches; the rancor against non-Jewish goyim and especially Christians; the hatred of Christ.
Erasmus considered Spain to be profoundly semiticized (37) when he wrote that "In Spain there are hardly any Christians" or "you are full of Jews. It is a trait that is common to you, it seems, with Italy and Germany in general, but above all in Spain". This avalanche of converts in Christian society makes it necessary for the Inquisition to act, which, contrary to what is believed, had no jurisdiction whatsoever over the Jews, since they were neither heretics nor apostates, but only against false converts, against the crypto-Jews, in order to make them fulfill the promises made.
The convert is the counterpoint of the hidalgo. The crypto-Jew looks for speculation and performs well in environments and financial means. He is a liar, vain, arrogant; he practices duplicity before the values of nobility, fidelity, sincerity and humility.


1. Rivanera Carlés, Federico, "Los judíos conversos, obra inédita", p 1
2. Ibid
3. Roth, Cecil, "A History of the Marranos", Buenos Aires, 1946, Foreword
4. Ibid, p 15.
5. Baroja, Julio Caro, "Races, Peoples and Lineages" (University of Murcia, 1990), p 115.
6. Blázquez, Miguel Juan, "Inquisition and Cryptojudaism" (Kaydeda, 1988), p 21.
7. Boyer, Jean, "Los peores enemigos de nuestros pueblos" (Colombia: Editorial Libertad, 1979), p 23.
8. Wast, Hugo, "El Kahal" (Burgos: Editorial Aldecoa, 1946), p 43.
9. Wast, Hugo, "Oro", p 87.
10. Ibid, p 160.
11. Ibid, p 28.
12. Ibid, p 40.
13. Ibid, p 46.
14. Ibid, p 45.
15. Ibid, p 50.
16. Caro Baroja, Julio, "Destino del judio hispano" (Madrid, 1963), p 408.
17. Ibid
18. Ibid, p 415.
19. Ibid, p 417.
20. Fernández Suárez, Alvaro, "Los judíos en la España moderna y contemporánea," Index (September 1966), p 7.
21. Ibid, p 15.
22. Ibid, pp 18-19.
23. Blánquez. Miguel, p 316.
24. Rivanera Carlés, p 2.
25. Caro Baroja, p 121.
26. Ibid, p 125.
27. Ibid, pp 149-150.
28. Roth, p 13.
29. Serrano, Eugenia, "Literatura y guerra santa," Diario El Alcázar (5 September 1972).
30. Marineo Siculo, L., "Vida y hechos de los Reyes Católicos" (Madrid, 1943), pp 68-70.
31. National Library, "Manuscript 2041", Folio 18v-v.
32. Roth, p. 36.
33. López Martínez, Nicolás, "Los judaizantes castellanos y la inquisición en tiempos de Isabel la Católica" (Burgos, 1954), p 78.
34. Ibid, p 261.
35. Ibid, p 335.
36. Wast, "Gold", p 46.
37. Blánquez, Miguel, p 129.

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