"The Former Jews of this Kingdom"

Sicilian Converts after the Expulsion, 1492-1516


This book examines the presence of the converted Jews in Sicily following the 1492 expulsion, discussing their legal status, economic activities and integration into Sicilian society, and the phenomenon of conversion and return of many exiles. The research is based on the account of books of the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily and other contemporary sources. Detailed inventories of confiscated property offer insights into the converts' cultural world, and can also be of interest to the scholar of social and material history in Early Modern Europe.
By focussing on royal policies towards the converted Jews, and on the process of establishing the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily, the study sheds new light on Ferdinand the Catholic's politics in Sicily and southern Italy.

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Nadia Zeldes, Ph.D. (1997) in Jewish History, Tel-Aviv University, is currently teaching at Tel-Aviv University. She studies the world of the Jews and Converts in Sicily in the context of Mediterranean intercultural encounters, and has published many articles on this subject.
List of Tables .. vii Preface .. ix Acknowledgments .. xi Maps .. xii Introduction .. 1 I. The Cultural Heritage .. 2 II. Sicily in the Later Middle Ages .. 3 III. The Historiography and the Sources .. 10 IV. Some Methodological and Technical Considerations .. 15 Chapter One: The Formation and Composition of the Neophyti Population in Sicily I. Conversions Before the Expulsion .. 19 II. Expulsion and the Encouragement of Conversion .. 21 III. Exile and Return .. 27 IV. Immigrants and Foreigners .. 43 V. Numerical Evaluation .. 50 VI. Conclusions .. 58 Chapter Two: New Christians or Former Jews—Legal, Social, and Economic Frameworks I. Royal Policies—Taxation, Discrimination and Protection .. 71 II. An Uneasy Welcome:ã Attitudes of the Old Christian Population .. 83 III. Jews, Converts, and the Sicilian Economy .. 100 IV. Conclusions .. 125 Chapter Three: In the Shadow of the Inquisition I. The First Period—Formal Beginnings to 1500 .. 131 II. The Spanish Inquisition and the Neophyti: 1500 to 1510 .. 143 III. The Auto de fé of 1511 .. 171 IV. Acts of Faith from November 1511 to August 1515: ‘Relaxations’ and Mass Reconciliations .. 191 V. The Revolt of 1516 and its Aftermath .. 199 VI. Conclusions .. 214 Chapter Four: Tracing a Portrait of Sicilian Converts I. Judaizing .. 219 II. The Evidence of Material Culture .. 235 III. Group Identity .. 254 IV. Conclusions .. 283 General Conclusion .. 288 Appendix 1: Dates, Coins, Weights, and Measures .. 296 Appendix 2: Documents .. 298 Glossary .. 323 Bibliography .. 325 Index
All those interested in social and cultural history, late medieval and early modern history, conversos and Inquisition, and Spanish and Italian history. Suitable for academic libraries, specialists, studends and educated laymen.