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
Eliezer Papo Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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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.”

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