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Arts and Humanities | European History | History | History of Religion | Medieval History | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature


Gladys White


During the Spanish Inquisition, the persecution of the Jews (and other anti-Catholic groups) was, in my opinion, unjustifiable. The Muslims had conquered Spain in 711, and the Christians began to re-conquer the Iberian Peninsula during the 1300's. In 1492, the Christians took Granada (the last city which was held by Muslim power), Columbus discovered the New World, and the Jews were expelled from Spain. My study involved the countless conflicts between the Catholics and the Jews during this time of re-conquest. One of the main issues that was critical to the predicament of Jewish life involved the desires of the monarchy and the Catholic Church. To have a Spanish Empire was a dominant aspiration of the Spanish throne. Along with the ability to achieve a Spanish dynasty came the desire for unification within Spain and religious homogeneity. The Spanish monarchs and most Spaniards wanted to enforce Catholicism as the only religion in Spain. Thus, the Jews were given three options: convert, leave, or die. The second element of the Jewish predicament involved the Catholic Church's strive to rid Spain of heresy. Catholic converts who still practiced Judaism were considered heretics, and many were brought to trial for these religious crimes. The Catholics justified the persecution of the Jews with a belief that the punishments and torture were purifying the souls of the non-Catholics. Throughout my thesis, these elements were developed, and I found that the homogeneity of Spain was a major factor in religious discrimination.