The University of Wisconsin Press

European History / Jewish Studies / Christian Studies / Spain

Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain
Norman Roth
With a new preface and afterword

“Roth is impressive in telling the conversos story. He makes extensive use of new sources and gives detailed case studies to show the progress of conversos in economic, political, and cultural life. His survey of the literature is the work of a historian’s historian.”—Charles Brockwell, Historian

“With evidence from extensive research, Roth refutes the traditionally accepted story of ‘crypto-Judaism’ which contends that the conversos were forced publicly to abandon their faith, while continuing secretly to maintain their Jewish traditions. He argues that the conversos were sincere Christians—that the majority of Spanish Jews converted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in a period of declining Jewish leadership, and that these new Christians then encountered hostility from both Jews and the ‘old’ Christians.”—Menorah Review

 “With scrupulous scholarship based on a profound knowledge of the Hebrew, Latin, and Spanish sources, Roth sets out to shatter all existing preconceptions about late medieval society in Spain.”—Henry Kamen, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

The Jewish community of medieval Spain was the largest and most important in the West for more than a thousand years, participating fully in cultural and political affairs with Muslim and Christian neighbors. This stable situation began to change in the 1390s, and through the next century hundreds of thousands of Jews converted to Christianity. Norman Roth argues here with detailed documentation that, contrary to popular myth, the conversos were sincere converts who hated (and were hated by) the remaining Jewish community. Roth examines in depth the reasons for the Inquisition against the conversos, and the eventual expulsion of all Jews from Spain.

“Scholarly, detailed, researched, and innovative.... As the result of Roth’s writing, we shall need to rethink our knowledge and understanding of this period.”—Murray Levine, Jewish Spectator

“The fruit of many years of study, investigation, and reflection, guaranteed by the solid intellectual trajectory of its author, an expert in Jewish studies.... A contribution that will be particularly valuable for the study of Spanish medievalism.”—Miguel Angel Motis Dolader, Annuario de Estudios Medievales

"Norman Roth is an outstanding historian of medieval Spanish Jews, who has spent toilsome decades among the Hebrew, Arabic, and Latin records. I find this a work of challenging originality, a revisionist opus that both carries forward much recent work and strikes out boldly on its own."—Robert I. Burns, S.J., University of California, Los Angeles

Norman Roth is professor emeritus of Hebrew and Semitic studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of Maimonides: Essays and Texts and Jews, Visigoths, and Muslims in Medieval Spain.

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Cover of book is orange with a black and white illustration of individuals on a boat and on land.

December 2002
LC: 94-023486 DS
504 pp. 6 x 9

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-14234-6
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