New Christian ( ; ; ) was a
term used to refer to Iberia Jew and Muslims who
converted to Roman Catholicism,
and their known baptized descendants.
- For other uses: see New Christian .
The term was introduced by the Old
of Iberia who wanted to distinguish themselves from
(converts). They sometimes
used other derogatory terms to apply to each of the converting
Throughout the Middle Ages
, Jews and
Muslims sometimes converted to Christianity, generally the result
of physical, economic, and social pressures or coercion.
14th century there was increasing pressure against Jews that
culminated in the riots of 1391 in Seville and other
These riots caused the destruction of the Jewish courts
and sparked many conversions, a trend
that continued through the 15th century. Unlike the other Iberian
kingdoms, Portugal was not much affected by the waves of riots.
There, the population of New Christians became numerous after the
forced conversions of 1497.
After the expulsion of the Jewish
population from Spain
in 1492 and Portugal in 1497, the
remaining Jewish population in Iberia became officially Christian.
The New Christians were always under suspicion of apostasy
The governments created the Spanish
in 1478 and Portuguese Inquisition
in 1536 as a
way of dealing with social tensions, supposedly justified by the
need to fight heresy. Communities believed that many New Christians
were secretly reverting to the practices of their former religion
and that numerous conversos had become crypto-Jews
Spanish development of an ideology of cleanliness of blood
excluded New Christians from society, regardless of their sincerity
as converts. In Portugal, Marquis of Pombal in 1772 decreed an end to the legal distinction
between New Christians and Old Christians.
After conversion, New Christians adopted Christian names.
Eventually all Old Christian names were used by New
- Moriscos was a term for New Christians
who were former Moors. It carried the
implication that they still practiced Muslim rituals.