The prisoner, the fugitive, and the returnee: Three portrayals of the eighteenth-century Sephardi diaspora to England

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Abstract

This article analyzes three distinct perspectives on the same subject: the New Christian migration from Portugal to England of the first half of the 18th century. These include Michael Geddes's narrative on the proceedings of the Portuguese Inquisition included in his Miscellaneous Tracts, Grace Aguilar's short-stories and her essay on the history of the Jews in England, and the testimonies presented before the Portuguese Inquisition by Jewish returnees from London to Portugal. Each of these texts reveal different perspectives on this movement and its background, readapting their histories/stories in order to achieve specific goals, whether these are criticizing the Inquisition and the Catholic Church, expressing the resilience and virtues of Jewish people and arguing for the eradication of discrimination, or providing a credible defense against the procedures of the Inquisition in order to remain safely in Portugal. Such narratives lead us to reflect on the ways in which memories of the circumstances of the Western Sephardi Diaspora were preserved, disseminated and appropriated in different contexts and with different aims and, in particular, how the idea of return (with all its
complexity and contradiction) is deeply associated with this process of remembrance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-144
Number of pages27
JournalJewish Historical Studies
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Conversos
  • Portuguese Inquisition
  • New Christians
  • Jews
  • Conversion
  • London
  • Grace Aguilar
  • Michael Geddes
  • Anglo-Jewry

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