On March 19, 1497 (the first day of Passover) Jewish parents in Portugal were ordered to take their children, between the ages of four and fourteen, to Lisbon. King Manoel, in an effort to prevent the Jews from fleeing the persecutions and expulsions from Spain in 1492, secretly ordered the baptism of all children between the ages of four and fourteen. Upon arrival, the parents were informed that their children were going to be taken away from them and were to be given to Catholic families to be raised as good Catholics.
From an address by Arthur Benveniste on the 500th anniversary of the expulsion:
King Manoel had previously ordered all Jews to leave Portugal by October 1497, but had begun to question his decision. He knew of the value of the Jews and may genuinely have felt he could convert them. He wanted to find some way…
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