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On the Language of Conversion: Visigothic Spain Revisited

On the Language of Conversion: Visigothic Spain Revisited

Beneviste, Henriette-Rika (University of Thessaly)

Historein, Volume 6, (2006)

Abstract

The debate over the identity of “conversos” in late medieval Spain is well known. The received wisdom, according to which the converts retained their Jewish faith and practised it in secret, has been questioned by scholars who maintain that the “converso danger” was a product of clerical imagination and inquisitorial practice, and that only after the expulsion of 1492 did this situation change radically. Historians currently exploring the “converso dualities” have contributed to more sophisticated interpretations. The article examines conversion during the seventh century. Although it does not propose that the processes at work then are the same as those outlined by participants in the historiographical debate over late medieval conversions, it suggests that the seventh century saw the emergence of structures of thought, prejudices and attitudes which were meant to endure.

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