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Over half of Spain's Jews had converted as a result of the religious persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391.
A further number of those remaining chose to convert to avoid expulsion.
These secret practitioners are commonly referred to as crypto-Jews or marranos.
The existence of crypto-Jews was a provocation for secular and ecclesiastical leaders who were already hostile toward Spain's Jewry.
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Many Jewish people fled to other parts of the Muslim world, and also to the Christian kingdoms, which initially welcomed them.
Recently converted families who continued to intermarry were especially viewed with suspicion.For their part, the Jewish community viewed conversos with compassion, because Jewish law held that conversion under threat of violence was not necessarily legitimate.Although the Catholic Church was also officially opposed to forced conversion, under ecclesiastical law all baptisms were lawful, and once baptized, converts were not allowed to rejoin their former religion.During the Christian re-conquest, the Muslim kingdoms in Spain became less welcoming to the dhimmi.In the late twelfth century, the Muslims in al-Andalus invited the fanatical Almohad dynasty from North Africa to push the Christians back to the North.