A Network of Converso Families in Early Modern Toledo

Assimilating a Minority
Linda Martz
The lives of Toledan Jewish families are traced from the time of the Inquisition through seventeenth-century Spain


A Network of Converso Families in Early Modern Toledo addresses the fortunes of Jewish families who converted to Catholicism in fifteenth-century Spain. From the fifteenth through the seventeenth century, their careers, successes, and misfortunes are traced as they confront institutional and societal prejudices in the form of the Spanish Inquisition and pure blood statutes.

Linda M. Martz focuses on families that were immersed in the worlds of business and finance. They formed the backbone of the trade industry and, during the economic expansion of the sixteenth century, enjoyed a high degree of affluence. The seventeenth century, however, brought harder times. How these families rose to positions of commercial eminence and then adapted to this economic downturn is one of the questions addressed in this insightful book.

A Network of Converso Families in Early Modern Toledo relies heavily on archival evidence---notarial, parish, and city records---that offers new insights into the families' histories. Business endeavors, marriage alliances, involvement in local politics, and the pursuit of improved social status are all subjected to Martz's keen analysis.

These families appear to have been well integrated into their contemporary society; aside from their business and financial activities, many were members of the city's governing council. But how well did they integrate with the lower classes? Assimilating minorities in the majority culture is a task that confronts most modern societies, so the experience of Spain and this particular minority may serve as an example of how earlier societies viewed and confronted this challenge.

This book will appeal to historians of medieval and Renaissance Spain and those interested in the Inquisition's effect on Renaissance Spain. It will also prove to be indispensable for those interested in the history of the Jewish race, as well as for those pursuing the question of marginalization.

Linda M. Martz is an independent historian as well as a freelance editor and writer.

Praise / Awards

  • "Martz's work is the product of considerable research; it is also the work of a historian who knows the right questions to ask. For those interested in minority history in the period, it ought to be required reading. It is, itself, a generous and welcome contribution to the larger history of Spain in the early modern period."
    ---American Historical Review
  • "Ms. Martz' meticulous scholarship regarding a handful of important families. . . . We see here how many riches can be obtained if one digs deeply in a small area. This is real scholarship."
  • "Martz has covered hundreds of family records from a number of different sources in this work of tremendous depth and research. . . . This major contribution is must reading for anyone covering the early modern period of Spain."
  • ". . . Martz has demonstrated once again her deep historical knowledge of this early modern Spanish city, and her impressive command of the sources available there. "
    ---Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • "Linda Martz has produced the most extensive and important study of the assimilation of conversos, the descendants of Jews who had converted to Christianity and were never expelled from Spain."
    ---Sixteenth Century Journal

Look Inside

Copyright © 2003, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted May 2003.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 480pp.
  • 35 drawings, 2 photographs, 15 tables, 2 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11269-2

Add to Cart
  • $99.95 U.S.