Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/315

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303
THE JEWS IN EUROPE.

those who went out of the land—the numbers vary from 170,000 to 400,000—perished by plague, famine, or shipwreck. The descendants of the survivors, the Sephardim, found reception in Italy and in that part of the Orient which was under Turkish dominion; also for a short time in Portugal. Spain, however, became filled with families of mixed descent, and the contrasts of pure and impure blood, of old Christians and neo-Christians, poisoned the whole social life.

The fate of the Jews was still worse in Portugal than in Spain. For a Ion or time their condition was better than in the rest of the Peninsula. The murderous storm of 1391 did not extend to them; they enjoyed some privileges, had property in land, and pursued agriculture and wholesale businesses. But in the reign of King Manuel (1495), otherwise praised as gentle and humane, they met with a deadly blow: their children under fourteen years were snatched from them and baptized; they themselves could remain in the land only as they became converted to the Church. Thus this kingdom also was filled with those who feigned conversion and were forcibly baptized. The results were fearful. In the year 1506, in Lisbon, two thousand new converts were put to death in three days, because one of the neo-Christians had ventured to doubt a supposed miracle. Soon after, the Inquisition was introduced as the well-tried instrument for handing over the property of the wealthy neo-Christians to the state treasury.

In the larger commercial cities of Italy, the existence of the Jews was, comparatively speaking, endurable. Since the trade in money was already in the hands of Christian bankers, they occupied themselves more here with mercantile business. They encountered no risings of the mob, or massacres.

All these things become more comprehensible when we observe that the historians of the time, in narrating the enormities that were committed, give no sign of pity, and do not utter a word of indignation. Many times the clerical chroniclers even express their satisfaction: for example, the Monk of Waverley writes in a triumphant tone of the massacre, in London, at the coronation of Richard I, which was perpetrated without any provocation on the part of the Jews, and closes with the exclamation, "Blessed be the Lord, who has given up the godless to their deserts!" ("Annales Monast.," p. 246). And yet they do not fail to point out that avarice was a principal cause of these misdeeds; that nobles and citizens who were in debt incited to them, in order, by a single stroke, to become free of their (Jewish) creditors; for money was in truth the protecting as well as the destroying angel of the Jews in those days. The unhappy ones must press their debtors, always expecting that at the next moment they themselves would suffer from the inevitable reaction against them.

Since the clergy declared the mere existence of the Jews among the Christians to be an immeasurable danger, requiring the most careful watching and isolating, we should expect that they would have