Try our free social site WTMX
Majorca's 'Chueta' Catholic Jews return to roots
Marranos were Spanish and Portuguese Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity during the Middle Ages, yet continued to practice Judaism in secret.
The term specifically refers to the charge of crypto-Judaism, whereas the term converso was used for the wider population of Jewish converts to Catholicism, whether or not they secretly still practised Jewish rites. Converts from either Judaism or Islam were referred to by the broader term of "New Christians".
The term marrano came into later use in 1492 with the Castilian Alhambra Decree, ordered by Inquisitor Torquemada, himself from a converso family. It prohibited the practice of Judaism in Spain and required all remaining Jews to convert or leave, under the premise that, "If they are not good Christians, their descendants will be."
By then, the vast majority of Jews in Spain had converted to Catholicism, perhaps under pressure from the Massacre of 1391, and conversos numbered hundreds of thousands. They were monitored by the Spanish Inquisition and subject to suspicions by Catholics of the secret practice of Judaism, also known as "Marranism."
In modern use "marrano" is sometimes, but not always, considered offensive; and "crypto-Jew" is occasionally preferred in scholarly works.