1st Edition

From Mass Conversion to Expulsion Jews and New Christians in the Kingdom of Naples (1492–1541)

By Nadia Zeldes Copyright 2024
    190 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the events that marked the last decades of Jewish presence in the kingdom of Naples from 1492 to 1541. It employs a comparative approach in the examination of the mass conversion of the Jews in the Kingdom of Naples in 1495, the failed attempt to establish a Spanish‑style inquisition, and the expulsions of 1510 and 1541. By relying on a variety of sources, including Hebrew literary works and rabbinic Responsa, this study sheds new light on the reception of the refugees of 1492, the evolvement of the political and military crisis of 1495, the attacks on the Jewish communities, and Jewish reaction, all aspects that have never before been subject to systematic analysis. The Spanish victory of 1503 and the transformation of southern Italy into a Spanish‑ruled dominion bring this discussion closer to the Iberian model of mass conversions and expulsions. The unprecedented expulsion of the New Christians along with the Jews offers a unique opportunity for drawing a parallel with the much later expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain.

    By highlighting these aspects, this book offers insights for understanding the larger issues of the integration of refugees and rejection of minority groups, questions that are as relevant to present concerns and politics as they were on the eve of the modern era.


    1          The Coming of the Exiles of 1492 and Their Reception

    2          The Political Calamities of 1494–1495 and the Fall of the Aragonese Dynasty of Naples

    3          Breakdown of Authority, Riots, Plunder, and Forced Conversions

    4          The New Christians and Their Reception by the Surrounding Society

    5          The Failure to Establish a Spanish-Style Inquisition

    6          The Expulsions of 1510–1511

    7          An Expulsion of “Bad Christians”

    8          The Last Jews and Conversos in the Kingdom of Naples



    Nadia Zeldes has a Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Tel Aviv University (1998). She is currently a research fellow affiliated with The Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter‑Religious Encounters at Ben Gurion University, Israel. Her main research interests concern inter‑religious and inter‑cultural encounters in the Mediterranean world during the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. She has published extensively on Christian‑Jewish relations in that period with a focus on the history of conversions in southern Italy and Spain. Nadia Zeldes is the author of “The Former Jews of This Kingdom” – Sicilian Converts after the Expulsion (1492–1516) (2003) and Reading Jewish History in the Renaissance: Christians, Jews, and the Hebrew Sefer Josippon (2020).