Some eighteenth-century refugees from Brazil

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The fact that there was no Inquisition in the south of Brazil led many New Christians to settle there during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the late seventeenth century they made up two thirds of the white population of Rio de Janeiro.1 As in Portugal, secret Judaism has persisted in Brazil for many centuries.

King Manoel Fs edict of 1497 expelling Jews from Portugal asserted that Jews and Moors committed great evils and blasphemies in Portugal.2 The belief that every epidemic, famine or earth tremor in Portugal was due to divine vengeance for tolerating Judaism persisted over the centuries. John V of Portugal (1689-1750) and his Inquisitor General, Cardinal Nuno Ataide da Cunha, were extremely hostile to secret Judaism. The Inquisitor certainly believed in the power of malevolent witchcraft. In the 1720s he turned his attention to the old-established secret Jewish communities in northern Portugal. From 1720 to 1723 the Coimbra Inquisition held seventeen autos da fe, averaging four a year.3 Dom Luis da Cunha, the doyen of the Portuguese diplomatic service, commented in his Political Testament on the immense damage done by the Inquisition to Portuguese manufactures. By arresting and frightening New Christians into emigrating, they had smashed the Braganza silk industry which Spanish Jews had introduced to Portugal, and greatly damaged the woollen-cloth-weaving industry of Fund?o and Covilh?.4 The Inquisition sent a powerful agency to Rio and made many arrests. Its confiscation of the New Christians' extensive sugar estates led to suspicion of deliberate profiteering, but there is little doubt that crypto Judaism survived more strongly there than in the north of Brazil. Professor Anita Novinsky has published 128 inventories of goods confiscated by the Inquisition from New Christian men in Brazil, who were found guilty of

1 Jose Goncalves Salvador, Os Crist?os-Novos e o Comercio no Atl?ntico Meridional (Com enfoco nas Capitanias do Sul 1530-1680) (S?o Paolo 1973) 380.

2 Ordenaf?es do Senhor Rey D. Manuel II (Coimbra 1997). Facsimile edition of Fundac?o Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon n.d.) 212.

3 Elkan Nathan Adler, Auto da Fe and Jew (Oxford 1908) 150.

4 Luis da Cunha, Testamento Politico (Lisbon 1820).

Judaizing.5 I have found only eight families from Brazil who joined the London synagogue, though there may well be others whom I have missed.

Novinsky's works and Joy Oakley's recently published Lists of the Portuguese Inquisition6 give interesting information about some of the people arrested in Brazil, who eventually took refuge in London. In 1708 Agostinho Lopes Flores, aged twenty-eight, a goldsmith banker in Rio, and his wife Brites Soares Pereira, aged twenty-seven, were arrested there by agents of the Inquisition. They were shipped to Lisbon where they were tried and con? victed of Judaizing. At an auto da fe on 30 June 1709 they were sentenced to imprisonment, a perpetual penitential garment and the confiscation of their property.7 They were released destitute in Lisbon, yet in 1710 they were remarried in London at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Bevis Marks (on 4 Kislev) as Daniel Flores and Sarah Suarez Pereira 'arrivals from Portugal'.8


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