Encyclopedia > Converso

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Spanish for "converted one", converso (feminine conversa) referred to Jews or Muslims or the descendants of Jews or Muslims who had converted, sometimes unwillingly, to Catholicism in Spain, particularly during the 1300s and 1400s. A similar but more pejorative term, marrano, referred to converted Jews alone. Conversos were often suspected of preserving their ancestral rites in secret and were an especial target of the Spanish Inquisition, but they contributed disproportionately to cultural and political life in Spain and included Saint Teresa of Avila and, it was alleged, the Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada himself.

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