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Santarém

SANTARÉM

SANTARÉM , city in central Portugal. An important Jewish community in the Middle Ages, Santarém was the rabbinical seat for the district of Estremadura. On his capture of the city in 1140, Affonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, is said to have found a Jewish community and a synagogue there. The charter of Santarém and *Beja conferred by Affonso Henriques contained legislation against the Jews, stipulating among other things that, in litigation between Jews and Christians, only Christian witnesses would be accepted, and that Christians would not be accountable for offenses against Jews. Various Cortes held in Santarém issued discriminatory decrees against the Jews, that of 1461 decreeing that Jews should not wear silk, and of 1468 ordering all Jews to wear an identifying badge and to live within the Jewish quarter. Late in 1490, or early in 1491, the Jews of Santarém fulsomely greeted the Spanish princess, eldest daughter of Queen Isabella, who had been betrothed to the Portuguese prince Affonso, and regaled her with gifts as she stopped in Santarém on the way from Évora. After the forced conversion of 1497, a substantial community of New *Christians lived in Santarém, suffering grievously from the devastating earthquake of Jan. 26, 1531, and its aftermath. Fanatical monks seized on the disaster to denounce the New Christians and their friends, calling the earthquake a divine punishment for the toleration of the New Christians. New Christians were attacked and expelled from their homes, and many were compelled to seek refuge in the mountains. The distinguished dramatist Gil Vicente took up the cudgels on their behalf, and his passionate pleas for sanity and moderation restored calm. There were further disorders against the New Christians of Santarém in 1630.

bibliography:

M. Kayserling, Geschichte der Juden in Portugal (1867), 2, 13, 52, 64, 98, 180; J Mendes dos Remedios, Os judeus em Portugal (1895), passim.

[Martin A. Cohen]

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