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Lisbon Massacre

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The 1506 Lisbon massacre was a massacre of converted Jews that took place in Lisbon Portugal in the spring of 1506. Because the victims were Marranos or Conversos (converted Jews) and were not Jewish by religion, it  was somewhat unique among incidents of  anti-Semitic violence. Marranos often died at the hands of the Inquisition. Mob violence against them was less frequent. It is also known as the Easter Massacre.

The Jews had been forcibly converted to avoid expulsion. They had reached Portugal after being expelled from Spain. Between 2,000 and 4,000 “New Christians” (also called Maranos or Conversos), Portuguese Jews who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism by order of King Manuel about 10 years before, were massacred by a mob incited by Dominican friars. In 1506, a plague that lasted for several months aroused suspicion that it was "punishment" for secret Judaizing of conversos. On April 17, 1506, several conversos ("Maranos") were discovered with  "some lambs and poultry prepared according to Jewish custom; also unleavened bread and bitter herbs according to the regulations for the Passover, which festival they celebrated far into the night." Officials seized several, but released them after a few days. The populace was disappointed.  On the same day, April 19, on which the Maranos were liberated, the Dominicans displayed a crucifix and a reliquary in glass with an odd radiance in their church. A converso who suggested unwisely that this miracle might be due to natural causes, was dragged from the church and was killed by an infuriated woman. Dominicans roused the populace. Two Dominican friars, crucifix in hand, went through the streets of the city, crying "Heresy!" and calling upon the people to destroy the Maranos.

Pogrom: Lisbon massacre of 1506
Contemporary German artist's
rendition of the Lisbon massacre.

All Neo-Christians found in the streets were killed; and a terrible massacre ensued. More than 500 Maranos were slain and burned on the first day; and the scenes of murder were even more atrocious on the day following. The innocent victims of popular fury, young and old, living and dead, were dragged from their houses and thrown upon the pyre. Even Christians who in any way resembled Maranos or had dealings with them were killed. Among the last victims, and the most hated of all, was the tax-farmer João Rodrigo Mascarenhas, one of the wealthiest and most distinguished Maranos of Lisbon; his house was entirely demolished. At least 2,000 Maranos were murdered within two days. King Manuel severely punished the rioters. The ringleaders were either hanged or quartered, and the Dominicans who had occasioned the riot were garroted and burned. All persons convicted of murder or pillage suffered corporal punishment.  their property was confiscated, while religious freedom was granted to all Maranos for twenty years. . ref; Grosser, Paul E. and Edwin G. Halpern. Anti-Semitism: The Causes and Effects of a Prejudice. Citadel Press: New Jersey, 1979, p 161; Jewish Encyclopedia A memorial to the Lisbon victims was erected on April 22, 2008 by the city of Lisbon. 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom - Portugal, United States Department of State. September 19, 2008.

Ami Isseroff

March 31, 2009


Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: pogrom Inquisition


Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.


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This work and individual entries are copyright © 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

 

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