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A Question of IdentityIberian Conversos in Historical Perspective$
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Renee Levine Melammed

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195170719

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195170717.001.0001

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(p.81) 5 France
A Question of Identity

Renee Levine Melammed (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The options available to the emigrants settling in France were limited since it was a Catholic country that had expelled all of its Jews in the fourteenth century. While some of the kings granted them charters known as Lettres Patentes, the Portuguese merchants who arrived had to maintain the façade of being observant Catholics. Even in the two larger communities, Bayonne and Bordeaux, a bona fide transition to Judaism did not occur until the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, these conversos developed strong ties to other converso communities, especially in the commercial world, and displayed signs of literary creativity that reflected the complexity of the converso identity.

Keywords:   France, Lettres Patentes, Portuguese merchants, Bayonne, Bordeaux, assimilation, literary creativity

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