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Limpieza de sangre is also a novel in the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

Limpieza de sangre (in Spanish), (Template:Lang-pt), both meaning "cleanliness of blood" played an important role in modern Iberian history. It referred to those who were considered pure "Old Christians", without Jewish or Muslim ancestors.

After the Reconquista

After the end of the Reconquista and the expulsion or conversion of Sephardim (Jews) and Mudéjars (Muslims), the population of Portugal and Spain was all nominally Christian. However, the ruling class and much of the populace distrusted the recently-converted "New Christians", referring to them as conversos or marranos if they were baptized Jews or descended from them, or Moriscos if they were baptized Muslims or descended from them. A commonly-leveled accusation was that the New Christians were false converts, secretly practicing their former religion as Crypto-Jews or Crypto-Muslims. Nevertheless, the concept of cleanliness of blood came to be more focused on ancestry than of personal religion. The first statute of purity of blood appeared in Toledo, 1449[1], where an anti-Converso riot succeeded in obtaining a ban on Conversos and their posterity from most official positions. Initially these statutes were condemned by the monarchy and the Church. In 1496, Alexander VI approved a purity statute for the Hieronymite Order[1].

This stratification meant that the Old Christian commoners could assert a right to honor even if they were not in the nobility. The religious and military orders, guilds and other organizations incorporated in their bylaws clauses demanding proof of cleanliness of blood. Upwardly mobile New Christian families had to either contend with their plight, or bribe and falsify documents attesting generations of good Christian ancestry. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions were more concerned with repressing the New Christians and heresy than chasing witches, which was considered to be more a psychological than a religious issue, or Protestantism, which was promptly suffocated.

The claim to universal hidalguía (lowest nobility) of the Basques was justified by erudites like Manuel de Larramendi (1690–1766)[2] because the Arab invasion hadn't reached the Basque territories, so it was believed that Basques had maintained their original purity, while the rest of Spain was suspect of miscegenation. In fact, the Arab invasion also reached the Basque country and there had been a significant Jewish minority in Navarre, but the hidalguía helped many Basques to official positions in the administration[3].

Tests of limpieza de sangre had begun to lose their utility by the 19th century, rarely did persons have to endure the grueling inquisitions into distant parentage through birth records. However, laws requiring limpieza de sangre were still sometimes adopted even into the 1800s. For example, an edict of 8 March 1804 by King Ferdinand VII resolved that no knight of the Military Orders could wed without having a council vouch for the limpieza de sangre of his spouse[4].

Official suppression of such entry requirements for the Army were enacted into law in 16 May 1865 [5], and extended to naval appointments on 31 August, of the same year. In 5 November 1865, a decree allowed children born out of wedlock or illegitimate, for whom ancestry could not be verified, to be able to enter into religious higher education (canons)[6]. In 26 October 1866, the test of blood purity were outlawed for the purposes of determining who could be admitted to college education. In 20 March 1870, a decree suppressed all use of blood purity standards in determining eligibility for any government position or any licensed profession[7].

The rise to power of Francisco Franco and the Falange, which had developed alliances to the racist governments of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, there was some renewed focus by the government on the "unity" of the Spaniards under one religion and one people. However, no statutes were officially enacted to enforce racial purity. The discrimination was still present into the twentieth century in some places like Majorca. No Xueta (descendants of the Majorcan Conversos) priests were allowed to say Mass in a cathedral until the 1960s.[8]

Historical genesis of Blue Blood

"It was the Spaniards who gave the world the notion that an aristocrat's blood is not red but blue. The Spanish nobility started taking shape around the ninth century in classic military fashion, occupying land as warriors on horseback. They were to continue the process for more than five hundred years, clawing back sections of the peninsula from its Moorish occupiers, and a nobleman demonstrated his pedigree by holding up his sword arm to display the filigree of blue-blooded veins beneath his pale skin--proof that his birth had not been contaminated by the dark-skinned enemy."
Robert Lacey, Aristocrats. Little, Brown and Company, 1983, p. 6.

Spanish colonies

Limpieza de sangre was a very important concept among Spaniards who settled in the Americas. The Laws of the Indies repeatedly banned descendants of Conversos and those reconciliated with the Inquisition of settling in the Americas (the reiteration suggests that the laws were often ineffectual)[1]. The philosophy led to the separation of the various peoples in the colonies and created a very intricate list of nomenclature to describe one's precise race and, by consequence, one's place in society. To illustrate how complex this nomenclature became the following list was in use in New Spain (Mexico) during the eighteenth century:[9]

  • Spaniard and Indian = Mestizo (1/2 European and 1/2 Native American)
  • Mestizo and Spanish woman = Castizo (3/4 European and 1/4 Native American)
  • Castizo woman and Spaniard = Spaniard (7/8 European and 1/8 Native American)
  • Spanish woman and black man = Mulatto (1/2 European and 1/2 African)
  • Spaniard and Mulatto = Morisco (3/4 European and 1/4 African)
  • Morisco woman and Spaniard = Albino (7/8 European and 1/8 African)
  • Spaniard and Albino woman = Torna atrás ("turn back") (15/16 European and 1/16 African)
  • Indian man and Torna atrás woman = Lobo (1/2 Native American, 15/32 European, and 1/32 African)
  • Lobo and Indian woman = Zambaigo (3/4 Native American, 15/64 European, and 1/64 African)
  • Zambaigo and Indian woman = Cambujo (7/8 Native American, 15/128 European, and 1/128 African)
  • Cambujo and mulatto woman = Albarazado (7/16 Native American, 79/256 European, and 65/256 African)
  • Albarazado and Mulatto woman = Barcino (207/512 European, 193/512 African, and 7/32 Native American)
  • Barcino and Mulatto woman = Coyote (463/1024 European, 449/1024 African, and 7/64 Native American)
  • Coyote woman and Indian man = Chamiso (71/128 Native American, 463/2048 European, and 449/2048 African)
  • Chamiso woman and Mestizo = Coyote mestizo (135/256 Native American, 1487/4096 European, and 449/4096 African)
  • Coyote mestizo and Mulatto woman = Ahí te estás ("there you stay") (3535/8192 European, 2497/8192 African, and 135/512 Native American)

This list represents only some of the existing social and legal terms put in place by the colonizing Spaniards to firmly establish how far away one is from pure European blood. Every Spanish colony had its own, equally complex, system of determining one's racial genealogy. They did not block intermixing but placed the result of interracial relations in the caste system.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Estatutos de Limpieza de Sangre, Pablo A. Chami.
  2. Manuel de Larramendi, Corografía de la muy noble y muy leal provincia de Guipúzcoa, Bilbao, 1986, facsimile edition of that from Editorial Ekin, Buenos Aires, 1950. (Also published by Tellechea Idígoras, San Sebastián, 1969.) Quoted in La idea de España entre los vascos de la Edad Moderna, by Jon Arrieta Alberdi, Anales 1997-1998, Real Sociedad Económica Valenciana de Amigos del País.
  3. Limpieza de sangre in the Spanish-language Auñamendi Encyclopedia
  4. Codigos Españoles Tome X. Page 225
  5. Colección Legislativa de España (1870), p. 364
  6. Colección Legislativa de España (1870), page 365
  7. Colección Legislativa de España (1870), page 366
  8. Los judíos en España, Joseph Pérez. Marcial Pons. Madrid (2005).
  9. Yelvington, Kevin A. (2005). Understanding Contemporary Latin America. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. p. 246. ISBN 158826341X.

External links

bg:Изискване за чистота на кръвта es:Estatutos de limpieza de sangre eo:Limpieza de sangre fr:Limpieza de sangre he:טוהר הדם

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