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This chapter deals with the traumatic event represented by the conversion of Jews that occurred in Portugal in 1497. It is argued that the largest forcible baptism of Jews in the history of western Europe was so brutal and extensive that it constituted a shock not only for its victims but also for Portuguese society as a whole. The effects of this shock are explored by questioning the silence that surrounded the abrupt passage to Christianity of tens to hundreds of thousands Jews, as well as by tracing the interaction of multiple memories through the legal controversies, theological debates, and historical writings that dealt with the events of 1497 over the course of the sixteenth century.

In: Forced Conversion in Christianity, Judaism and Islam

This article presents the first reconstruction of the relationship between conscience and empire in the Portuguese World between 1500 and 1650. It shows to what extent the foundation of the Mesa da Consciência (“Board of Conscience”), a royal council of theologians devoted to issues like war, commerce, conversion, and slavery, shaped the imperial ideology. In this context, “conscience” emerged as a keyword in the political vocabulary, reflecting the importance of moral theology for the political language in which the empire was conceived. It not only bolstered the hegemony of theologians but also encouraged the emergence of a missionary casuistry, which became increasingly independent of the central authorities in the kingdom and in Rome. Under the Habsburg domination (1580-1640) this system was dismantled and theologians lost their centrality at court. After the Restoration of 1640 some of the old institutions were recovered in name, but the old interconnection between politics and moral theology was not re-installed.

In: Journal of Early Modern History

In the past two decades, empires have increasingly attracted the attention of historians of the early modern period to the detriment of the traditional focus on states as the default political unit of analysis. The emergence of global history is not alien to this turn. This article maintains that our understanding of configurations of the early modern political map would only benefit from detaching the history of the state from its European trajectory and focusing on the multiple connections between states and empires across the world. Not only did both states and empires share the problem of having too much to rule, but their differences were not always so clear to the historical actors. Therefore, looking at their interactions at a local level might be a promising line to follow in future research.

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Space and Conversion in Global Perspective examines experiences of conversion as they intersect with physical location, mobility, and interiority. The volume’s innovative approach is global and encompasses multiple religious traditions. Conversion emerges as a powerful force in early modern globalization.

In thirteen essays, the book ranges from the urban settings of Granada and Cuzco to mission stations in Latin America and South India; from villages in Ottoman Palestine and Middle-Volga Russia to Italian hospitals and city squares; and from Atlantic slave ships to the inner life of a Muslim turned Jesuit. Drawing on extensive archival and iconographic materials, this collection invites scholars to rethink conversion in light of the spatial turn.

Contributors are: Paolo Aranha, Emanuele Colombo, Irene Fosi, Mercedes García-Arenal, Agnieszka Jagodzińska, Aliocha Maldavsky, Giuseppe Marcocci, Susana Bastos Mateus, Adriano Prosperi, Gabriela Ramos, Rocco Sacconaghi, Felicita Tramontana, Guillermo Wilde, and Oxana Zemtsova.
In: Space and Conversion in Global Perspective