By Jonathan S. Ray
Honorary point out for the 2014 Medieval and Early glossy Jewish heritage part publication award provided by means of the organization for Jewish Studies
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Additional resources for After Expulsion: 1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry
24 Of that total, perhaps only 10,000 Jews came from the lands of the former Crown of Aragon. 25 Demographically speaking, however, the majority of the Jewish exiles left from Castile, and their most popular destination was the neighboring kingdom of Portugal. In 1492, Portugal was a rising power and Spain’s rival for political and economic influence in the North Atlantic. Its king, João II (r. 1481–95), openly welcomed Spain’s Jewish refugees, though not without demanding an entry fee. Those who made the long journey westward through the mountain passes of Extremadura found safe haven in a relatively wealthy kingdom that boasted a sizable Jewish community, and whose language and customs closely resembled those of their native Castile.
For others, however, the tragedy of 1492 replaced that of 1391 as the shared cultural trauma that defined their lives. For many of the latter group, the Conversos who stayed behind in Iberia were increasingly seen as having turned their back on Judaism. 39 However, such broad strokes conceal much of the texture of Jewish life in Christian Iberia. From the eleventh century on, the Christian kingdoms of Portugal, Castile-Leon, and Catalonia-Aragon steadily expanded and consolidated their power in the peninsula.
One of the most devastating results of the unprecedented wave 20 << Medieval Inheritance of forced conversions of that year was its effect on the morale of the surviving Jews. In the succeeding decades, many were so disheartened that they accepted baptism willingly. 30 As a result of the continued existence and even expansion of Converso society, the act of conversion lost some of its stigma among Iberian Jews. Nor was the prospect of abandoning one’s religion as forbidding as it had been prior to 1391.