Maranos are crypto-Jews of Spain and Portugal. The term has been given different derivations. It is frequently derived from the New Testament phrase "maran atha" ("our Lord hath come"). It may be a derogatory term from the Arabic محرّم muharram, which means "ritually forbidden." In Spanish it denotes "damned," "accursed," "banned"; also "hog," and in Portuguese it is used as an opprobrious epithet of the Jews because they do not eat pork.
The name was applied to the Spanish Jews who, through compulsion or for form's sake, became converted to Christianity in consequence of the cruel persecutions of 1391 and of Vicente Ferrer's missionary sermons. These "conversos" (converts), as they were called in Spain, or "Christãos Novos" (Neo-Christians) in Portugal, or "Chuetas" in the Balearic Isles, or "Anusim" (constrained) in Hebrew, numbered more than 100,000. With them the history of the Iberian Peninsula, and indirectly that of the Jews also, enters upon a new phase; for they were the immediate cause both of the introduction of the Inquisition into Spain and of the expulsion of the Jews from that country. The wealthy Maranos, who engaged extensively in commerce, industries, and agriculture, intermarried with families of the old nobility; impoverished counts and marquises unhesitatingly wedded wealthy Jews; and it also happened that counts or nobles of the blood royal became infatuated with Jewish girls. Beginning with the second generation, the Neo-Christians usually intermarried with women of their own sect. They became very influential through their wealth and intelligence, and were called to important positions at the palace, in government circles, and in the Cortes; they practiced medicine and law and taught at the universities; while their children frequently achieved high ecclesiastical honors.
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