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Limpieza de sangre

Limpieza de sangre is also a novel in the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

Limpieza de sangre (Spanish: ), Limpeza de sangue (Portuguese: , Galician: ) or Neteja de sang (Catalan: ), meaning "cleanliness of blood", played an important role in modern Iberian history. It referred to those who were considered pure "Old Christians", without Muslim or Jewish ancestors, or within the context of the empire (New Spain and Portuguese India) usually to those without Amerindian, Asian, or African ancestry (with a few exceptions, like this ordenes document for an indigenous person named Francisco Luis de la Asumpsion Garcia).[1]


  • After the Reconquista 1
    • Procedure to judge purity of blood 1.1
  • Spanish colonies 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

After the Reconquista

After the end of the Reconquista and the expulsion or conversion of Muslim Mudéjars (the overwhelming majority of whom descended from native Iberians who converted to Islam under Muslim rule[2]) and Sephardic Jews, the population of Portugal and Spain was all nominally European Christian. However, the ruling class and much of the populace distrusted the recently converted "New Christians", referring to them as conversos or marranos if they were baptized Jews or descended from them, or Moriscos if they were baptized Muslims or descended from them. A commonly leveled accusation was that the New Christians were false converts, secretly practicing their former religion as Crypto-Jews or Crypto-Muslims. Nevertheless, the concept of cleanliness of blood came to be more focused on ancestry than of personal religion. The first statute of purity of blood appeared in Toledo, 1449,[3] where an anti-Converso riot succeeded in obtaining a ban on Conversos and their posterity from most official positions. Initially, these statutes were condemned by the monarchy and the Church; however, in 1496, Pope Alexander VI approved a purity statute for the Hieronymite Order.[3]

This stratification meant that the Old Christian bylaws clauses demanding proof of cleanliness of blood. Upwardly mobile New Christian families had to either contend with their plight, or bribe and falsify documents attesting generations of good Christian ancestry. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions were more concerned with repressing the New Christians and heresy than chasing witches, which was considered to be more a psychological than a religious issue, or Protestants, who were promptly suffocated.

The claim to universal hidalguía (lowest nobility) of the Basques was justified by intellectuals like Manuel de Larramendi (1690–1766)[4] because the Moorish conquest of Iberia had not reached the Basque territories, so it was believed that Basques had maintained their original purity, while the rest of Spain was suspect of miscegenation. In fact, the Moorish invasion also reached the Basque country and there had been a significant Jewish minority in Navarre, but the hidalguía helped many Basques to official positions in the administration.[5]

Tests of limpieza de sangre had begun to lose their utility by the 19th century; rarely did persons have to endure the grueling inquisitions into distant parentage through birth records. However, laws requiring limpieza de sangre were still sometimes adopted even into the 19th century. For example, an edict of 8 March 1804 by King Ferdinand VII resolved that no knight of the Military Orders could wed without having a council vouch for the limpieza de sangre of his spouse.[6]

Official suppression of such entry requirements for the Army was enacted into law in 16 May 1865,[7] and extended to naval appointments on 31 August of the same year. In 5 November 1865, a decree allowed children born out of wedlock, for whom ancestry could not be verified, to be able to enter into religious higher education (canons).[8] In 26 October 1866, the test of blood purity was outlawed for the purposes of determining who could be admitted to college education. In 20 March 1870, a decree suppressed all use of blood purity standards in determining eligibility for any government position or any licensed profession.[9]

The discrimination was still present into the 20th century in some places like Majorca. No xueta (descendants of the Majorcan conversos) priests were allowed to say Mass in a cathedral until the 1960s.[10]

Procedure to judge purity of blood

The earliest known case judging Limpieza de Sangre comes from the Church of Cordoba, that explained the procedure to judge the purity of blood of a candidate as follows: Kneeling, with his right hand placed over the image of a crucifix on a Bible, the candidate confirmed themselves as not being of either Jewish or Moorish extraction. Then the candidate provided the names of their parents and grandparents, as well as places of birth. Two delegates of the council, church or other public place would then research the information to make sure it was truthful. If the investigation had to be carried out of Cordoba, a person, not necessarily a member of the council, would be appointed to examine the witnesses appointed by the candidate. This researcher would receive a sum per diem according to the rank of the person, the distance traveled and the time spent. Having collected all the reports, the secretary or the notary must read them all to the council and a vote would decide whether the candidate was approved. A simple majority was sufficient, after which the candidate had to promise to obey all the laws and customs of the Church.[11]

Spanish colonies

Although a medieval European concept that targeted exclusively the Jewish or Moorish population in Spain, Limpieza de sangre the concept evolved in the Spanish overseas territories in the Spanish Empire to be linked with racial purity for both Spaniards and indigenous.[12] Proofs of racial purity were required in a variety of circumstances in both Spain and its overseas territories. Candidates for office and their spouses had to obtain a certificate of purity that proved that they had no Jewish or Muslim ancestors and in New Spain, proof of whiteness and absence of any in the lineage who engaged in work with their hands.[13]

Additionally, as early as the sixteenth century, shortly after the Spanish colonization of America was initiated, several regulations were enacted in the Laws of the Indies to prevent Jews and Muslims and their descendants to emigrate and settle in the overseas colonies. These provisions are repeatedly stressed upon on following editions of the Laws, which provides an indication that the regulations were often ignored,[14] most likely because colonial authorities at the time looked the other way, as the skills of those immigrants were badly needed. During the period when Portugal and Spain were ruled by the same monarch (1580-1640), Portuguese merchants, many of whom were so-called crypto-Jews (Jews passing as Christians) became important members of the merchant communities in the viceregal capitals of Mexico City and Lima. When Portugal successfully revolted in 1640 from Spain, the Holy Office of the Inquisition in both capitals initiated intensive investigations to identify and prosecute crypto-Jews, resulting in spectacular autos de fe in the mid seventeenth century.[15]

See also


  1. ^,171974101,180057801
  2. ^ Hughes, Bethany (2007). When the Moors Ruled Europe. Princeton University. The people who were being thrust out were as native to the peninsula as the Christian kings. 
  3. ^ a b Estatutos de Limpieza de Sangre, Pablo A. Chami.
  4. ^ Manuel de Larramendi, Corografía de la muy noble y muy leal provincia de Guipúzcoa, Bilbao, 1986, facsimile edition of that from Editorial Ekin, Buenos Aires, 1950. (Also published by Tellechea Idígoras, San Sebastián, 1969.) Quoted in La idea de España entre los vascos de la Edad Moderna, by Jon Arrieta Alberdi, Anales 1997-1998, Real Sociedad Económica Valenciana de Amigos del País.
  5. ^ Limpieza de sangre in the Spanish-language Auñamendi Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Codigos Españoles Tome X. Page 225
  7. ^ Colección Legislativa de España (1870), p. 364
  8. ^ Colección Legislativa de España (1870), page 365
  9. ^ Colección Legislativa de España (1870), page 366
  10. ^ Los judíos en España, Joseph Pérez. Marcial Pons. Madrid (2005).
  11. ^ Sicroff, Albert A. Los estatutos de Limpieza de Sangre. p. 121. 
  12. ^ Maria Elena Martinez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2008, p. 270.
  13. ^ Martinez, Genealogical Fictions, p. 273.
  14. ^ Avrum Ehrlich, Mark (2009). Encyclopedia of the Jewish diaspora: origins, experiences, and culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 689.  
  15. ^ Jonathan I. Israel, Race, Class, and Politics in Colonial Mexico, 1610-1670. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1975, p. 245-46.
  • Douglass, William A. (2004) Sabino's sin: racism and the founding of Basque nationalism in Daniele Conversi (ed.), Ethnonationalism in the Contemporary World. London: Routledge, pp. 95–112.
  • Tomo Décimo.Códigos Españoles Concordados y Anotados Calle Jesús del Valle #6, Madrid;  
  • (Tomo CIII)Colección legislativa de España: Continuación de la colección de decretos (Primer Semestre de 1870) . Madrid; Google Books: Ministerio de Gracia y Justicia. 1870. 

External links

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