The history of the Jews of Spain spans more than a thousand years. It ended tragically in 1492 with the edict of expulsion issued by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile and Aragon shortly after their conquest of the Kingdom of Granada. The Jews of Portugal encountered a similar fate in 1497 with King Manuel I’s expulsion order. The edicts occurred after a tumultuous century of radical changes in Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula.
Beginning in 1391 and culminating with the expulsion decrees, large numbers of Jews converted to Christianity, many under physical coercion or duress. Converted Jews were referred to by a number of terms including Conversos, New Christians, Hebrew Christians as well as derogatory terms such as Marranos, meaning swine.
The term Crypto-Jews in this context refers to Spanish and Portuguese Jews who converted to Christianity but continued to observe Jewish practices and maintain Jewish beliefs secretly. Such observances were labeled as Judaizing and subject to severe penalty including execution by Inquisitional authorities. The descendants of Crypto-Jews exist to this day. This site is dedicated to providing information on this fascinating subject.
Posted by Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education. For a more complete review of Iberian Jewish history and the Crypto- Jewish Experience see Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism
AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM
The Seed of Camargo
In 1519, when Hernan Cortes learned he had been replaced as the Captain of the expedition to enter into the conquest of Mexico, he — under the subterfuge of preparation maneuvers and without approval from the Crown — absconded with ships and men from Hispañola and with these handful of men entered into the Conquest of Mexico. Cortes set fire to the ships on arrival at New Spain and salvaged all the iron nails to convert into weapons of war. He told his men to cut their hair short because there would not be much time for grooming in the coming months.
Months later, Governor Velasquez sent a military force of 900 men under the command of Panfilo Narvaez to find and capture Cortes. In Mexico, the wily Cortes pitted his smaller force of 700 men against the larger Narvaez force. By force and gold bribes to some of the leaders of Narvaez’s force, Cortes reduced the resistance of and captured Narvaez’s force at low loss of life. Twenty-five soldiers die. In the melee Narvaez loses an eye.
Cortes then merged the two forces into a unified body under his command. With about 1500 men and the alliance of one of the Indian tribes, Cortes was able to conquer in a two years’ time span millions of Mexica Indians led by the Chief Montezuma. Unintentional biological warfare, European diseases wipe out a larger segment of the Indigenous population. By 1521, he had gained partial control of the New World. Spanish colonization began shortly thereafter.
Genealogy information found on this site will showcase the colonists who beginning around 1521 progressively migrated north from Mexico City. By March 5, 1749 these intrepid true pioneers had established a frontier settlement in Camargo, Tamaulipas, a settlement with land grants on both sides of the Rio Grande and centered in present day Rio Grande City, Texas. These settlers and others were the first pioneering families in Texas. Colonization into the interior of Tejas, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and California had occurred earlier by other groups. Juan de Oñate established a settlement in Española, New Mexico in 1596.
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