Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam

In the 17th century, descendants of forcibly baptised Jews (conversos) fled the Iberian Inquisitions to settle in Amsterdam, a city renowned for its commercial ties and religious tolerance. On arrival the conversos lacked clear ethnic or religious identities and had little social organisation. Yet, they formed the nucleus of what became within a generation a strongly cohesive community with a highly structured and well-developed sense of its Jewish identity. Drawing on family and communal records, diaries, memoirs, literary works, and other sources, Miriam Bodian reconstructs the fascinating story of how these Portuguese immigrant – merchants, professionals, and intellectuals, for the most part – reasserted their Judaism, while maintaining their Iberian heritage.

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