Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lisbon massacre of Jews 500 years ago, today

The precursor to Portugal's expultion of the Jews, the Easter Massacre of 1506 is being remembered today in downtown Lisbon with a candlelight vigil. On Easter Sunday on said date in the city of Lisbon, the plague as well as two previous years of inclement weather have taken their toll, claiming many victims in the city. A lot of the government officals as well as part of the royalty are out of town to avoid contagion. There are religious processions and in one service someone notices a strange and singular ray of light shining on a crucifix. The word spreads through the help of Dominican monks, wanting to use it to their advantage. At one of the services, with voices pro and con, that of a skeptical "new christian" rings out claiming it to be nothing but an optical illusion. The mob turns on him, drags him out to the street where they proceed to beat, kill and then burn him. Stired up by the empassioned discourses of said monks, they spread out across the city, killing and throwing to the flames every Jew and "new Christian" they encounter. The first night more than 500 people have perished. In the next three days 4,000 would be victims of the intolerance, mob mentality, greed, lust and anti semitism. Shortly after, the Portuguese king throws out all the Jews, namely the exiles from neighboring Spain, confiscating most of their assets. Most spread out across Europe, to the Netherlands where they founded a great community, but also to Turkey and other Eastern European countries. Some of them made it to Brasil, from where a small group proceeded on to the new colony of New Amsterdam and founded the first community of Jews (Sephardic) of New York.
(in portuguese, rua da judiaria)


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