From Lucretia to Don Kr[e]ensia, or, Sorry, I Just Had to Convert

The Karakaş Sabbatian Oikotype of a Medieval Romance

in The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
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Eschatological expectations and messianic hopes aroused by the expulsion of Jews from Spain climaxed in the seventeenth century with the appearance of Sabbatai Tzevi. In 1666, Sultan Mehmed iv, eager to halt the uproar without creating a martyr, offered Tzevi a choice between conversion to Islam and death. Tzevi chose life. Although many Jews were devastated by his apostasy, a nucleus of Sabbatai’s most ardent followers preferred to interpret it as the ultimate tiqqun. This article presents one of the most intriguing Sabbatian literary accounts of their Messiah’s apostasy, the internal Sabbatian version of the romansa “Tarquin and Lucretia.”




Ibid., 332–336.


See Paul B. Fenton, “A New Collection of Sabbatian Hymns,” in The Sabbatian Movement and Its Aftermath: Messianism, Sabbatianism, and Frankism, ed. Rachel Elior (Jerusalem: Institute of Jewish Studies, 2001), 329–351.


Fenton, “A New Collection of Sabbatian Hymns,” 342.


Fenton, “A New Collection of Sabbatian Hymns,” 335.


Quoted in Cengiz Sisman, “Konvenyamos kon vedrad: Language of Daily Lives, Communal Regulations and Liturgies of the Ottoman and Turkish Sabbateans (Dönmes),” in Judeo-Spanish in the Time of Clamoring Nationalisms, ed. Mahir Şaul (Istanbul: Libra Kitap, 2013), 76.


Ibid., 97.


Perez, Agua, fuego i amor, 13.


Zófimo Consiglieri Pedroso, “O rei Traquilha,” Revista Lusitana 3 (1895): 370–371. Reedited in Contribuições para uma mitologia popular portuguesa e outros escritos etnográficos (Lisbon: Publicações Dom Quixote, 1988), 373–385.


Attias, Shirot ve-tishbaḥot, 38.


Perez, Agua, fuego i amor, 13.


Eliezer Papo, “ ‘Meliselda’ and Its Symbolism for Sabbatai Ṣevi, His Inner Circle and His Later Followers,” Kabbalah—Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts (forthcoming).


Attias, Shirot ve-tishbaḥot, 35.


Ibid., 81.


Ibid., 49. In a note on the same page, Scholem adds that Parsemona is Sabbatai’s mystical name.


Ibid., 81, hymn 62.


  • The Sabbatian romansa of Tarquin and Lucretia. Ms. Ben-Zvi 2272, hymn 158;

    (a) fol. 76b; (b) fol. 77a; (c) fol. 77b.
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