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March 15 1391 Anti-Jewish riots erupt in Seville, Spain in one of several precursors to the Inquisition. The riots initiate a wave of violence throughout Spain and Portugal that claim 50,000 lives—both Jewish and Gentile—within less than a year. Many Jews escape death by converting to Christianity. They are labeled “Marranos”, which means swine, because the Church does not consider them true Christians. The converters are also called “Crypto-Jews” because they worship Judaism in secret. They must carefully avoid being caught by the Church or face dire consequences. There were approximately 200,000 such Jews at this time.

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