By Joseph Abraham Levi
Cadernos de Estudos Sefarditas, No.5 (2005)
Introduction: This study follows the itinerary of Portuguese Jews of the Diaspora to some of the then-city-states, principalities, dukedoms, and kingdoms of Italy between 1496 and 1600, or rather, from the time of their «expulsion» from Portugal (1496) and forced conversion to Christianity – namely, Catholicism (1497-1498) – to the period of maximum splendor which they enjoyed in their newly-adopted land (seventeenth century).
Generally speaking, the Jews of the Diaspora are commonly divided between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Leaving aside the former group, only because it falls outside the scope of this study, the Sephardim are a loose agglomeration of different (ethnic)/national peoples, conventionally divided into two major subgroups, the Western and the Eastern, the latter comprising the Italian Jews – also referred to as Italkim or Italkian group – and the Jews who lived, or still live today, in the vast territory that formed the former Ottoman Empire (1281-1924), particularly former Yugoslavia, the Balkans, Egypt, as well as present-day Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. The Western Sephardim, on the other hand, embrace(d) Portugal, Spain, France, Holland, Morocco, and England.