Tracing my Spanish ancestry.
2% Iberian peninsula
Firstly my family were from Spanish Town in Jamaica. Ancestry DNA shows I have Spanish cousins by the name of Pérez, Lopez, Fernandez, Poulos, Maga. These cousins are showing up with Jewish ancestry. This post will explore who these people were.
Spanish slavery in the Americas did not diverge drastically from that in other European colonies. It reshuffled the Atlantic World‘s populations through forced migrations, helped transfer American wealth to Europe, and promoted racial and social hierarchies (castas) throughout the empire.Spanish enslavers justified their wealth and status earned at the expense of captive workers by portraying them as inferior beings and holding them as personal properties (chattel slavery), often under barbarous conditions. In fact, Spanish colonization set some egregious records in the field of slavery. The Asiento, the official contract for trading in slaves in the vast Spanish territories was a major engine of the Atlantic slave trade. When Spain first enslaved Native Americans on Hispaniola, and then replaced them with captive Africans, it established unfree labor as the basis for colonial mass-production. The tale of Spanish exploits in the Americas, amplified for propagandistic reasons, earned such notoriety that European rivals called it theBlack Legend. And in the mid-nineteenth century, as most countries in the hemisphere moved to disallow chattel slavery, Cuba and Puerto Rico – the last two remaining Spanish American colonies – maintained slavery the longest.[a]
The picture above does resemble my grandmother and I wouldn’t be shocked if she were a missing family member
See also https://blackhistory938.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/spain-portugal/
Some Slave Ships that were owned by Jews
- Abigail — Aaron Lopez, Moses Levy, and Jacob Franks
- Active — Aaron Lopez
- Africa — Jacob Rivera and Aaron Lopez
- Albany — Rodrigo Pacheco
- Ann — Aaron Lopez
- Ann — James DeWolf
- Anne & Eliza — Justus Bosch and John Abrams
- Antigua — Nathan Marston and Abram Lyell
- Barbadoes Factor — Joseph Marks
- Braman — John Levi and Henriques da Costa
- Belle — Moses and David Franks Delaware
- Betsy — Jacob Rivera, Aaron Lopez
- Betsey — Samuel jacobs
- Caracoa — Moses and Sam Levy
- Charlotte — Moses Levy, Sam Levy, and Jacob Franks
- Charlotte E. Tay — Fred K. Myer
- Charming Betsey — Samuel Levy
- Charming Polly — Joseph Marks
See the below extract and link to post.
Many African Americans and Mexicans are distant cousins, indeed. There’s no doubt about that. I have known for quite awhile that many Mexicans have African ancestors. Transatlantic slave trade statistics show that at least 200,000 enslaved Africans were imported into Mexico from West Africa.
Enslaved people challenged their captivity in ways that ranged from introducing non-European elements into Christianity (syncretism) to mounting alternative societies outside of the plantation system (Maroons). The first open black rebellion occurred in Spanish plantations in 1521.Resistance, particularly to the enslavement of indigenous people, also came from Spanish religious and legal ranks. The first speech in the Americas for the universality of human rights and against the abuses of slavery was also given on Hispaniola, a mere nineteen years after thefirst contact. Resistance to Amerindian captivity in the Spanish colonies produced the first modern debates over race and the legitimacy of slavery.[b] And uniquely in the Spanish American colonies, laws like the New Laws of 1542, were enacted early in the colonial period to protect natives from bondage. To complicate matters further, Spain’s haphazard grip on its extensive American dominions and its erratic economy acted to impede the broad and systematic spread of plantations similar to those of the French in Saint Domingue or of the British in Jamaica. Altogether, the struggle against slavery in the Spanish American colonies left a notable tradition of opposition that set the stage for current conversations about human rights.
The Spanish had established precedents for regimes of forced labor prior to their encounter with New World peoples. Over centuries in Iberia, Muslims had enslaved Christians, and with the Christian reconquest, the victors enslaved the Moors. Slavery was an institution that was economic in function, but it had strong social dimensions as well. Enslaved persons were outsiders of some kind, by ethnicity, language, or religion or some combination. In Iberia, slaves were considered human and possessed some rights, but were at the bottom of the status hierarchy. There were some Muslim slaves remaining in Christian Spain after 1492, but increasingly enslaved Africans via the Portuguese slave trade became part of Spain’s social mosaic. Black slaves in Spain were overwhelmingly domestic servants, and increasingly became prestigious property for elite Spanish households. Artisans acquired black slaves and trained them in their trade, increasing the artisans’ output.
Both the Spanish and the Portuguese colonized the Atlantic islands off the coast of Africa, where they engaged in sugar cane production following the model of Mediterranean production.
The sugar complex consisted of slave labor for cultivation and processing, with the sugar mill (ingenio) and equipment established with investor capital. When plantation slavery was established in Spanish America and Brazil, they replicated the elements of the complex in the New World on a much larger scale.
Another form of forced labor used in the New World with origins in Spain was the encomienda, the award of the labor to Christian victors over Muslims during the reconquest. This institution of forced labor was employed by the Spaniards in the Canary Islands following their conquest. The institution was much more widespread following the Spanish contact and conquest of indigenous in the New World, but the precedents were set prior to 1492.
Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews or simply Sephardim, (Hebrew: סְפָרַדִּים, Modern Hebrew: Sfaraddim, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm; also יְהוּדֵי סְפָרַד Y’hudey Spharad, lit. “The Jews of Spain”), are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews coalesced on the Iberian Peninsula around the year 1000. They established communities throughout Spain and Portugal, where they traditionally resided, evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity, which they took with them in their exile from Iberia beginning in the late 15th century to North Africa, Anatolia, the Levant, the Balkans, theBaltics, Central, Southern and Northern Europe, as well as the Americas, and all other places of their exiled settlement, either alongside pre-existing co-religionists, or alone as the first Jews in new frontiers.
Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia was brought to an end starting with the Alhambra Decree by Spain’s Catholic Monarchs in 1492, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions and executions.
Narrow ethnic definition
In the narrower ethnic definition, a Sephardi Jew is a Jew descended from the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century, immediately prior to the issuance of the Alhambra Decree of 1492 by order of the Catholic Monarchs in Spain, and the decree of 1496 in Portugal by order of King Manuel I.
In Hebrew, the term “Sephardim Tehorim” (ספרדים טהורים, literally “Pure Sephardim”) has in recent times come to be used in some quarters to distinguish Sephardim proper “who trace their lineage back to the Iberian/Spanish population” from Sephardim in the broader religious sense.This distinction has also been made in reference to genetic findings in research on Sephardim proper in contrast to other communities of Jews today termed Sephardi more broadly
Broad religious definition
The modern Israeli Hebrew definition of Sephardi is a much broader, religious based, definition that generally excludes ethnic considerations. In its most basic form, this broad religious definition of a Sephardi refers to any Jew, of any ethnic background, who follows the customs and traditions of Sepharad. For religious purposes, and in modern Israel, “Sephardim” is most often used in this wider sense which encompasses most non-Ashkenazi Jews who are not ethnically Sephardi, but are in most instances of West Asian or North African origin, but who nonetheless commonly use a Sephardic style of liturgy.
The term Sephardi in the broad sense, thus describes the nusach (Hebrew language, “liturgical tradition”) used by Sephardi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition’s choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Sephardim traditionally pray using Minhag Sefarad. The term Nusach Sefard or Nusach Sfarad does not refer to the liturgy generally recited by Sephardim proper or even Sephardi in a broader sense, but rather to an alternative Eastern European liturgy used by many Hasidim who are in fact Ashkenazi.
Additionally, Ethiopian Jews, whose branch of practiced Judaism is known as Haymanot, have recently come under the umbrella of Israel’s already broad Sephardic Chief Rabbinate.
The divisions among Sephardim and their descendants today is largely a result of the consequences of the Royal edicts of expulsion. Both the Spanish and Portuguese edicts ordered their respective Jewish residents to choose one of only three options:
- to convert to Catholicism and therefore to be allowed to remain within the kingdom,
- to remain Jewish and to be expelled by the stipulated deadline, or
- to be summarily executed.
In the case of the Alhambra Decree of 1492, the primary purpose was to eliminate their influence on Spain’s large converso population and ensure they did not revert to Judaism. Over half of Spain’s Jews had converted as a result of the religious persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391, and as such were not subject to the Decree or to expulsion, yet remained under the watchful eye of the Spanish Inquisition. It has been argued by British scholar Henry Kamen, that “the real purpose of the 1492 edict likely was not expulsion, but compulsory conversion and assimilation of all Spanish Jews, a process which had been underway for a number of centuries. Indeed, a further number of those Jews who had not yet joined the converso community finally chose to convert and avoid expulsion as a result of the edict. As a result of the Alhambra decree and persecution during the prior century, between 200,000 and 250,000 Jews converted to Catholicism and between one third and one half of Spain’s remaining 100,000 non-converted Jews chose exile, with an indeterminate number returning to Spain in the years following the expulsion.
Foreseeing the economic aftermath of a similar Jewish flight from Portugal, King Manuel’s decree five years later was largely pro-forma to appease a precondition the Spanish monarchs had set for him if he wished to marry their daughter. While the stipulations were similar in the Portuguese decree, King Manuel then largely prevented Portugal’s Jews from leaving, by blocking Portugal’s ports of exit. This failure to leave Portugal was then reasoned by the king to signify a default acceptance of Catholicism by the Jews, and the king then proceeded to proclaim them New Christians. Actual physical forced conversions, however, were also experienced throughout Portugal.
Sephardi Jews, therefore, encompass Jews descended from those Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula as Jews by the expiration of the respective decreed deadlines. This group is further divided between those who fled south to North Africa, as opposed to those who fled eastwards to the Balkans, West Asia and beyond. Also included among Sephardi Jews are those who descend from “New Christian” conversos, but then returned to Judaism after leaving Iberia, largely after reaching Central and Northern Europe. From these regions, many would again migrate, this time to the non-Iberian territories of the Americas. Additional to all these Sephardic Jewish groups are the descendants of those New Christian conversos who either remained in Iberia, or moved from Iberia directly to the Iberian colonial possessions across what are today the various Latin American countries. The descendants of this group of conversos, for historical reasons and circumstances, were never able to formally return to the Jewish religion.
All these sub-groups are defined by a combination of geography, identity, religious evolution, language evolution, and the timeframe of their reversion (for those who had in the interim undergone a temporary nominal conversion to Catholicism) or non-reversion back to Judaism.
It should be noted that these Sephardic sub-groups are separate from any pre-existing local Jewish communities they encountered in their new areas of settlement. From the perspective of the present day, the first three sub-groups appeared to have developed as separate branches, each with its own traditions.
In earlier centuries, and as late as the editing of the Jewish Encyclopedia at the beginning of the 20th century, they were usually regarded as together forming a continuum. The Jewish community of Livorno acted as the clearing-house of personnel and traditions among the first three sub-groups; it also developed as the chief publishing centre. .
PÉREZ, JUAN IGNACIO (1761–1823). Ignacio Pérez, the son of Domingo and María Concepción (de Carvajal) Pérez, was born in July 1761, the third of thirteen children, into a family long involved in the military affairs of Texas. In 1781 he married Clemencia Hernández, a granddaughter of Andrés Hernández, founder of one of the province’s first privately owned ranches. Pérez devoted considerable attention to stock raising and the accumulation of property at San Antonio de Béxar. In 1804 he purchased from the Menchacas (see MENCHACA, LUIS ANTONIO) the old comandancia, the building known as the Spanish Governors’ Palaceqv. In 1808 Pérez received four leagues of land just below the Medina River and astride the Old San Antonio Road to San Juan Bautista. This and an adjoining league between the Medina and Leon Creek served as the base for Pérez’s livestock operations. In 1809 he was síndico (commissioner) of all the ranches in his district.
During the revolutionary decade that followed, Pérez remained staunchly Royalist and prospered for his constancy. When the Casas Revolt was toppled at Bexar, Pérez sat on Juan Manuel Zambrano‘s ruling junta. Likewise, when the capital again fell to the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition, Pérez withdrew with other Royalists and reappeared in Gen. Joaquín de Arredondo‘s army as a captain of cavalry. He took part in the decisive battle of Medina and rode with Col. Ignacio Elizondo in pursuit of rebels to the Trinity River. For his role in the restoration of Royalist authority in Texas, Pérez was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He soon distinguished himself as a capable Indian fighter in the attacks that swept the weakened province. He served as an interim governor from July 27, 1816, to March 20, 1817. During Antonio María Martínez‘s administration Pérez was recognized as the leading cattleman of the region and one of its most substantial citizens. In 1819 Governor Martínez sent him to oppose the latest filibustering venture on Texas soil, the Long expedition. Pérez left San Antonio de Béxar on September 27 with some 550 men, soon to be augmented by 100 more when Indians threatened the force. Moving toward Nacogdoches, he captured two small groups of Anglo-Americans. On October 11 and again on October 15, he engaged small detachments of James Longqv‘s men. He arrived in Nacogdoches on October 28 and moved on to the Sabine. Long and the remnants of his force had fled, but Pérez remained through November to drive the remaining filibusters out; his return trip to San Antonio was completed on February 2, 1820.
In October 1821 Pérez was again sent to engage Long, who had reorganized his forces at Point Bolivar and had taken the town of La Bahía (now Goliad). The settlement capitulated quickly before Pérez, and on October 8, 1821, Long was made a prisoner and taken to San Antonio. In 1814 Pérez’s twenty-four-year-old daughter, Gertrudis, had married Manuel Antonio Cordero y Bustamante, former governor of Texas, who was sixty-one years old at the time. Cordero died in 1823, and Pérez, in the spring, escorted Gertrudis home to Texas from Monclova. Shortly thereafter he died and was buried on October 7, 1823, after a ceremony at Purísima Concepción chapel with an honor guard in attendance. His wife followed him in death in 1825. They had three children and adopted others, including a boy whom the colonel had rescued from the Comanches.
Pérez, as most commonly written in English, is a surname with at least two distinct origins, one of which is Spanish and the other Hebrew.
The surname with Spanish origins, written in Spanish orthography as Pérez, is a patronymic surname meaning “son of Pero or Pedro (Peter)”. The surname has a Portuguese counterpart with the same meaning and etymology, Peres, written with a final “s” instead of “z” and without the accent.
The surname with a Hebrew origin is transliterated into English as either Perez orPeretz, and is derived from the Hebrew given name פרץ after the biblical character Perez (son of Judah), which in Hebrew means “to breach” or “to burst forth”. That biblical character’s Hebrew name, however, is transliterated as Farés in the Spanish Christian Bible.
Neither the Spanish nor the Hebrew surname corresponds to one single lineage. Instead, both correspond to many unrelated lineages.
Additionally, while the Spanish and Hebrew etymological origins are distinct, there are nevertheless those who carry the surname because, in their particular case, the origin of their surname is Spanish Jewish (i.e. Sephardic), and they, as Spanish Jews or their descendants, adopted the surname precisely because of its ambiguity.
Pérez as a surname among Spanish Jews or their descendants could be considered by their non-Jewish Spanish or Hispanic neighbors a typical Christian surname, yet still pay homage to their Jewish roots. This was helpful during the times of the Spanish Inquisition and its persecution of the Jews (and their baptized New Christian descendants) in Spain and its colonies in Hispanic America.
Among Spaniards and Hispanics, the surname by itself does not necessarily indicate a Jewish heritage. Likewise, among Jews, the surname does not by itself necessarily indicate a Sephardic heritage.
Juan Josef PerezHernández, naval officer, explorer (b c 1725 at Majorca, Spain; d 2 Nov 1775 off California). Pérez served as a pilot and marine officer in Spain’s Pacific trade between Mexico and the
Explorations, Northwest Coast
Pérez Hernández, Juan Josef
Juan Josef Pérez Hernández, naval officer, explorer (b c 1725 at Majorca, Spain; d 2 Nov 1775 off California). Pérez served as a pilot and marine officer in Spain’s Pacific trade between Mexico and the Philippines and in the Spanish expansion into Alta California. He was curious about the unknown northern coastline and his request to explore it coincided with the Spanish government’s desire for information on Russian penetration southward. In 1774 he sailed aboard the frigate Santiago with orders to reach at least 60°N latitude. Juan Pérez Hernández was the first European to explore Haida Gwaii and to approach Nootka Sound, but unfavourable weather prevented him from landing to take formal possession for Spain. Although he reached only about 55°30´ latitude and left some missions unfulfilled, he collected important data that served future Spanish mariners. Pérez was second officer in the 1775 expedition commanded by Bruno de Hezeta, but he died at sea. Click for link to original article
||May 28, 1782
Rhode Island, USA
Businessman and Entrepreneur. Philanthropist. Jewish Religious Leader. Born Duarte (Edward) Lopez in Portugal, he came from a family of conversos. Upon coming to the Americas in 1752, he changed his name to Aaron and began to openly practice his Jewish faith. Lopez became a leading merchant and shipper in the English colonies, owning 30 transatlantic ships and over 100 coastal vessels. A leader in the business, philanthropic and cultural life of Newport, Rhode Island, he contributed to the founding of the Newport Public Library, donated land to the Leicester Academy in Massachusetts and helped build the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island (later relocated to Providence and renamed Brown University). He had his portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart, of whom he was an early patron. In 1761, on what many historians consider to be trivial and possibly religious grounds, he was denied naturalization as a citizen in Rhode Island. In 1762, Lopez became the first naturalized Jewish citizen of Massachusetts and returned to Newport. He was instrumental in the founding of Newport’s Touro Synagogue, America’s oldest synagogue, which is several blocks away from the cemetery where he rests. (bio by: Librarian Jessie)Family links:
Abigail Lopez (1726 – 1762)*Children:
Joseph Lopez (____ – 1822)*
Esther Lopez Gomez (____ – 1811)*
Rebecca Lopez Hendricks (____ – 1844)*
Rachel Lopez Lopez (1758 – 1789)*
Abigail Lopez Gomez (1771 – 1851)**Calculated relationship
Colonial Jewish Cemetery of Rhode Island
Rhode Island, USA
|Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: W & L
Record added: Aug 14, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40672472
The pre history of Spain
The Iberian Peninsula has always been associated with the Ebro, Ibēros in ancient Greek and Ibērus or Hibērus in Latin. The association was so well known it was hardly necessary to state; for example, Ibēria was the country “this side of the Ibērus” in Strabo. Pliny goes so far as to assert that the Greeks had called “the whole of Spain” Hiberia because of the Hiberus River. The river appears in theEbro Treaty of 226 BC between Rome and Carthage, setting the limit of Carthaginian interest at the Ebro. The fullest description of the treaty, stated in Appian, uses Ibērus. With reference to this border, Polybius states that the “native name” is Ibēr, apparently the original word, stripped of its Greek or Latin -os or -us termination.
The early range of these natives, which geographers and historians place from today’s southern Spain to today’s southern France along the Mediterranean coast, is marked by instances of a readable script expressing a yet unknown language, dubbed “Iberian.” Whether this was the native name or was given to them by the Greeks for their residence on the Ebro remains unknown. Credence in Polybius imposes certain limitations on etymologizing: if the language remains unknown, the meanings of the words, including Iber, must also remain unknown. In modernBasque, the word ibar means “valley” or “watered meadow”, while ibai means “river”, but there is no proof relating the etymology of the Ebro River with these Basque names.
Schematic rock art from the Iberian Peninsula.
Iberian Late Bronze Age since c. 1300 BC
The Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited for at least 1.2 million years as remains found in the sites in the Atapuerca Mountains demonstrate. Among these sites is the cave of Gran Dolina, where six hominin skeletons, dated between 780,000 and one million years ago, were found in 1994. Experts have debated whether these skeletons belong to the species Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, or a new species called Homo antecessor.
Around 200,000 BP, during the Lower Paleolithic period, Neanderthals first entered the Iberian Peninsula. Around 70,000 BP, during the Middle Paleolithic period, the last glacial event began and the Neanderthal Mousterian culture was established. Around 37,000 BP, during the Upper Paleolithic, the Neanderthal Châtelperronian cultural period began. Emanating from Southern France, this culture extended into the north of the peninsula. It continued to exist until around 30,000 BP, when Neanderthal man faced extinction.
About 40,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans entered the Iberian Peninsula from Southern France. Here, thisgenetically homogeneous population (characterized by the M173 mutation in the Y chromosome), developed the M343 mutation, giving rise to Haplogroup R1b, still the most common in modernPortuguese and Spanish males. On the Iberian Peninsula, modern humans developed a series of different cultures, such as the Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean and Magdalenian cultures, some of them characterized by the complex forms of the art of the Upper Paleolithic.
During the Neolithic expansion, various megalithic cultures developed in the Iberian Peninsula. An open seas navigation culture from the east Mediterranean, called the Cardium culture, also extended its influence to the eastern coasts of the peninsula, possibly as early as the 5th millennium BC. These people may have had some relation to the subsequent development of theIberian civilization.
In the Chalcolithic (c. 3000 BC), a series of complex cultures developed that would give rise to the peninsula’s first civilizations and to extensive exchange networks reaching to the Baltic, Middle East and North Africa. Around 2800 – 2700 BC, the Beaker culture, which produced the Maritime Bell Beaker, probably originated in the vibrant copper-using communities of the Tagus estuary in Portugal and spread from there to many parts of western Europe.
Bronze Age cultures developed beginning c.1800 BC, when the civilization of Los Millares was followed by that of El Argar. From this centre, bronze technology spread to other cultures like theBronze of Levante, South-Western Iberian Bronze and Las Cogotas.
In the Late Bronze Age, the urban civilisation of Tartessos developed in the area of modern western Andalusia, characterized by Phoenician influence and using the Southwest Paleohispanic script for its Tartessian language, not related to the Iberian language.
Early in the first millennium BC, several waves of Pre-Celts and Celts migrated from Central Europe, thus partially changing the peninsula’s ethnic landscape to Indo-European-speaking in its northern and western regions. In Northwestern Iberia (modern Northern Portugal, Asturias and Galicia), a Celtic culture developed, the Castro culture, with a large number of hill forts and some fortified cities.
By the Iron Age, starting in the 7th century BC, the Iberian Peninsula consisted of complex agrarian and urban civilizations, either Pre-Celtic or Celtic (such as the Lusitanians, Celtiberians,Gallaeci, Astures, Celtici and others), the cultures of the Iberians in the eastern and southern zones and the cultures of the Aquitanian in the western portion of the Pyrenees.
The seafaring Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians successively settled along the Mediterranean coast and founded trading colonies there over a period of several centuries. Around 1100 BC, Phoenician merchants founded the trading colony of Gadir or Gades (modern day Cádiz) near Tartessos. In the 8th century BC, the first Greek colonies, such as Emporion (modern Empúries), were founded along the Mediterranean coast on the east, leaving the south coast to the Phoenicians. The Greeks coined the name Iberia, after the river Iber (Ebro). In the sixth century BC, the Carthaginians arrived in the peninsula while struggling with the Greeks for control of the Western Mediterranean. Their most important colony was Carthago Nova (modern-day Cartagena, Spain).
Roman conquest: 220 BC – 19 BC
In 218 BC, during the Second Punic War against the Carthaginians, the first Roman troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula; however, it was not until the reign of Augustus that it was annexed after two centuries of war with the Celtic and Iberian tribes and the Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian colonies. The result was the creation of the province ofHispania. It was divided into Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior during the late Roman Republic, and during the Roman Empire, it was divided into Hispania Tarraconensis in the northeast, Hispania Baetica in the south and Lusitania in the southwest.
Hispania supplied the Roman Empire with silver, food, olive oil, wine, and metal. The emperorsTrajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, and Theodosius I, the philosopher Seneca the Younger, and the poets Martial and Lucan were born from families living on the Iberian Peninsula.
Germanic and Byzantine rule c.560
In the early fifth century, Germanic peoples invaded the peninsula, namely the Suebi, the Vandals (Silingi and Hasdingi) and their allies, the Alans. Only the kingdom of the Suebi (Quadi and Marcomanni) would endure after the arrival of another wave of Germanic invaders, the Visigoths, who conquered all of the Iberian Peninsula and expelled or partially integrated the Vandals and the Alans. The Visigoths eventually conquered the Suebi kingdom and its capital city, Bracara (modern day Braga), in 584–585. They would also conquer theprovince of the Byzantine Empire (552–624) of Spania in the south of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands.
In 711, a Muslim army invaded the Visigothic Kingdom in Hispania. Under Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Islamic army landed at Gibraltar and, in an eight-year campaign, occupied all except the northern kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula in the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. Al-Andalus (Arabic: الإندلس, tr. al-ʾAndalūs, possibly “Land of the Vandals”), is the Arabic name given to what is today southern Spain by its Muslim Berber and Arab occupiers.
From the 8th–15th centuries, only the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula was incorporated into the Islamic world and became a center of culture and learning, especially during the Caliphate of Córdoba, which reached its height under the rule of Abd-ar-Rahman III. The Muslims, who were initially Arabs and Berbers, included some local converts, the so-calledMuladi. The Muslims were referred to by the generic name, Moors. The Reconquista gained momentum on c. 718, when the Christian Asturians opposed the Moors, the southern march to push out the Muslims continued for three hundred years, so for another four hundred years, only the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula was transformed into a Romance-speaking and Arabic-speaking Muslim land, along with pockets of a large minority of Arabic-speaking Sephardi Jews.
Many of the ousted Gothic nobles took refuge in the unconquered north Kingdom of Asturias. From there, they aimed to reconquer their lands from the Moors; this war of reconquest is known as the Reconquista. Christian and Muslim kingdoms fought and allied among themselves. The Muslim taifa kings competed in patronage of the arts, the Camino de Santiago attracted pilgrims from all Western Europe, and the Jewish population set the basis of Sephardi culture.
During the Middle Ages, the peninsula housed many small states including the Kingdom of Castile, Crown of Aragon, Kingdom of Navarre, Kingdom of León and the Kingdom of Portugal. The peninsula was part of the Almohad Caliphate until they were finally uprooted. The last major Muslim stronghold was Granada, which was conquered by a combined Castilian and Aragonese force in 1492. Muslims and Jews throughout the period were variously tolerated or shown intolerance in different Christian kingdoms. However, after the fall of Granada, all Muslims and Jews were ordered to convert to Christianity or face expulsion. Many Jews and Muslims fled toNorth Africa and the Ottoman Empire, while others publicly converted to Christianity and became known respectively as Marranos and Moriscos. However, many of these continued to practice their religion in secret. The Moriscos revolted several times and were ultimately forcibly expelledfrom Spain in the early 17th century.
Map of Spain and Portugal, Atlas historique, dated approximately 1705–1739, of H.A. Chatelain.
The small states gradually amalgamated over time, with the exception of Portugal, even if for a brief period (1580–1640) the whole peninsula was united politically under the Iberian Union. After that point, the modern position was reached and the peninsula now consists of the countries of Spain and Portugal (excluding their islands—the Portuguese Azores andMadeira and the Spanish Canary Islands and Balearic Islands; and the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla), Andorra, French Cerdagne and Gibraltar.
Sephardi Jewish couple from Sarajevo in traditional clothing. Photo taken in 1900.
Eastern Sephardim comprise the descendants of the expellees from Spain who left as Jews in 1492 or prior. This sub-group of Sephardim settled mostly in various parts of the Ottoman Empire, which included areas in the Near East (West Asia‘sMiddle East such as Anatolia, the Levant, etc.), the Balkans inSoutheastern Europe, plus Egypt. They settled particularly in European cities ruled by the Ottoman Empire includingSalonica in what is today Greece, Constantinople which today is known as Istanbul on the European portion of modernTurkey, and Sarajevo in what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sephardic Jews also lived in Bulgaria, where they incorporated into their community the Romaniote Jews they found already living there. They had a presence as well in Walachia in what is today Romania, where there is still a functioning Sephardic Synagogue in Moldova. Their traditional language is referred to as Judezmo (“Jewish [language]”); it is Judaeo-Spanish sometimes also known as Ladino, which consisted of the medieval Spanish and Portuguese they spoke in Iberia, with admixtures of Hebrew, and the languages around them, especially Turkish. This Judeo-Spanish language was often written in Rashi script.
Some Sephardim went further east to West Asian territories of the Ottoman Empire, settling among the long-established Arabic-speaking Jewish communities in Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, as well as in the Land of Israel itself, and as far as Baghdad in Iraq. Although technically a North African Ottoman region, those who settled Alexandria in Egypt are also included due to its cultural proximity to the West Asian provinces.
For the most part, Eastern Sephardim did not maintain their own separate Sephardic religious and cultural institutions from the pre-existing Jews, but instead the local Jews came to adopt the liturgical customs of the recent Sephardic arrivals.
Additionally, Eastern Sephardim in European areas of the Ottoman Empire retained their culture and language, while those in the West Asian portion gave up their language and adopted the local Judeo-Arabic dialect. This latter phenomenon is just one of the factors which has today led to the broader religious definition of Sephardi.
While on the one hand the Jewish communities in Syria and Egypt are partly of Spanish Jewish origin and they are therefore Sephardim proper, conversely the great majority of the Jewish communities in Iraq, and all of those from Iran, Eastern Syria, Yemen and Eastern Turkey are pre-existing indigenous Jewish populations who have adopted Sephardic rite and traditions through cultural diffusion, and are properly termed Mizrahi Jews. This has also been seen to be the case in modern DNA research, where Syrian Jews, while clustering within the various world Jewish groups (where most Jewish groups cluster closely together at large compared to non-Jews), the Syrian Jews nevertheless genetically cluster closest with Sephardim proper counterparts in other regions of Sephardic settlement rather than the Mizrahi Jews geographically closest to them.
A few of the Eastern Sephardim followed the spice trade routes as far as the Malabar coast of southern India, where they settled among the established Cochin Jewish community, again imparting their culture and customs to the local Jews. Their descendants became an upper caste stratum of the community and are known as Paradesi Jews. Additionally, there was a large presence of Jews and crypto-Jews of Portuguese origin in the Portuguese colony of Goa. Their presence aroused the anger of Gaspar Jorge de Leão Pereira, the first archbishop of Goa, who called for the initiation of the Goa Inquisition against the Sephardic Jews in India.
In recent times, principally after 1948, most Eastern Sephardim have since relocated to Israel, and others to the USA and Latin America.
Eastern Sephardim still often carry common Spanish surnames, as well as other specifically Sephardic surnames from 15th century Spain with Arabic, Berber or Hebrew language origins (such as Azoulay, Abulafia, Abravanel) which have since disappeared from Spain when those that stayed behind as conversos adopted surnames that were solely Spanish in origin. Other Eastern Sephardim have since also translated their Hispanic surnames into the languages of the regions they settled in, or have modified them to sound more local.
North African Sephardim
North African Sephardim consist of the descendants of the expellees from Spain who also left as Jews in 1492. This branch settled in North Africa (except Egypt, see Eastern Sephardim above). Settling mostly in Morocco and Algeria, they spoke a variant of Judaeo-Spanish known as Haketia. They also spoke Judeo-Arabic in a majority of cases. They settled in the areas with already established Arabic-speaking Jewish communities in North Africa and eventually merged with them to form new communities based solely on Sephardiccustoms.
Several of the Moroccan Jews emigrated back to the Iberian Peninsula to form the core of the Gibraltar Jews.
In the 19th century, modern Spanish, French and Italian gradually replaced Haketia and Judeo-Arabic as the mother tongue among most Moroccan Sephardim and other North African Sephardim.
In recent times, principally after 1948, most North African Sephardim have since relocated to Israel, and most others to France and Spain. There are significant communities still only in Morocco and Tunisia.
North African Sephardim still also often carry common Spanish surnames, as well as other specifically Sephardic surnames from 15th century Spain with Berber or Hebrew language origins (such as Azoulay, Abulafia, Abravanel) which have since disappeared from Spain when those that stayed behind as conversos adopted surnames that were solely Spanish in origin. Other North African Sephardim have since also translated their Hispanic surnames into local languages or have modified them to sound local.
Western Sephardim (also known more ambiguously as “Spanish and Portuguese Jews”, “Spanish Jews”, “Portuguese Jews” and “Jews of the Portuguese Nation”) are the community of Jewish ex-conversos whose families initially remained in Spain and Portugal as ostensible New Christians, that is, as Anusim or “forced [converts]”. Western Sephardim are further sub-divided into an Old World branch and a New World branch.
Henry Kamen and Joseph Perez estimate that of the total Jewish origin population of Spain at the time of the issuance of the Alhambra Decree, those who chose to remain in Spain represented the majority, up to 300,000 of a total Jewish origin population of 350,000. Furthermore, a significant number returned to Spain in the years following the expulsion, on condition of converting to Catholicism, the Crown guaranteeing they could recover their property at the same price at which it was sold.
Discrimination against this large community of conversos nevertheless remained, and those who secretly practiced the Jewish faith specifically suffered severe episodes of persecution by the Inquisition. The last episode of persecution occurred in the mid-18th century. External migrations out of the Iberian peninsula coincided with these episodes of increased persecution by the Inquisition.
As a result of this discrimination and persecution, a small number of marranos (conversos who secretly practiced Judaism) later emigrated to more religiously tolerant Old World countries outside the Iberian cultural sphere such as the Netherlands, northern Italy, northern Germany,England, Belarus and southern Russia. Here they reverted to Judaism, rejoining the Jewish community sometimes up to the third or even fourth generations after the initial decrees stipulating conversion, expulsion, or death. These represent Old World Western Sephardim.
New World Western Sephardim are descsendants of those Jewish-origin New Christian conversos who accompanied the millions of Old Christian Spaniards and Portuguese that emigrated to the Americas.
More specifically, New World Western Sephardim are those Western Sephardim whose converso ancestors migrated to various non-Iberian colonies in the Americas where they could return to Judaism, as opposed to conversos who settled in the Iberian colonies of the Americas where they could not revert.
Due to the presence of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition in such Iberian American territories, initially converso immigration was barred in much of Ibero-America. Because of this, very few converso immigrants in Iberian American colonies ever reverted to Judaism, and their descendants comprise the related Sephardic Bnei Anusim.
Of those conversos in the New World who did return to Judaism, it was principally those who had come via an initial respite of refuge in Holland and/or who were settling the New World Dutch colonies such as Curaçao and the area then known as New Holland (also called Dutch Brazil). Dutch Brazil was the northern portion of the colony of Brazil ruled by the Dutch for under a quarter of a century before it also fell to the Portuguese who ruled the remainder of Brazil. Jews who had only recently reverted in Dutch Brazil then again had to flee to other Dutch-ruled colonies in the Americas, including joining brethren in Curaçao, but also migrating to New Amsterdam, in what is today New York.
All of the oldest congregations in the non-Iberian colonial possessions in the Americas were founded by Western Sephardim, many who arrived in the then Dutch-ruled New Amsterdam, with their synagogues being in the tradition of “Spanish and Portuguese Jews”.
In the United States in particular, Congregation Shearith Israel, established in 1654, in today’s New York City, is the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Its present building dates from 1897. Congregation Jeshuat Israel in Newport, Rhode Island, is dated to sometime after the arrival there of Western Sephardim in 1658 and prior to the 1677 purchase of a communal cemetery, now known as Touro Cemetery. See also List of the oldest synagogues in the United States.
The intermittent period of residence in Portugal (after the initial fleeing from Spain) for the ancestors of many Western Sephardim (whether Old World or New World) is a reason why the surnames of many Western Sephardim tend to be Portuguese variations of common Spanish surnames, though some are still Spanish.
Among a few notable figures with roots in Western Sephardim are the current president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Benjamin N. Cardozo. Both descend from Western Sephardim who left Portugal for the Netherlands, and in the case of Nicolás Maduro, from the Netherlands to Curaçao, and ultimately Venezuela.
An 18th-century map of the peninsula depicting various topographical features of the land, as published in Robert Wilkinson’s General Atlas, circa