The 1997 Series Limpieza De Sangre

Limpieza de sangre is the second novel in the Captain Alatriste series and was released in the year 1997; exactly one year after El Capitan Alatriste was released. Read about the El Capitan Alatriste.

The title means the purity of blood. The novel was written in the context of Iberian Peninsula’s modern day history, and defined clean old Christians as those who had no history of Jewish or Muslim descendants. It also referred to individuals who had no connection with people of African, Asian, and American ancestry.

End Of The Reconquest

When the reconquest came to a completion, there were no remaining Jews and Muslims. This meant that a big percentage of Spain and Portugal residents were Christians. The number of new conversions from Judaism and Islam was 200,000 and one million respectively. These new converts were generally referred to as New Christians. However there was a different name for each group from different religions. Those who had been converted from Islam were known as Moriscos while those converted from Judaism were known as Conversos.

The Converts

The new converts were faced with various challenges in their journey. Many individuals liked to view them as pretenders who were still participating in their erstwhile religions as Crypto-Muslims and Crypto-Jews. This is what led to a change of theory when it came to defining who the pure Christians were. From then, they would only be perceived to be pure according to their ancestral status as compared to individual religion.

Limpieza de sangre
Limpieza de sangre book cover

At some point there was anti-converso chaos whose success meant that all conversos and their heirs were banned from holding authoritative public positions. As a result of this, a statue that signified blood purity was erected at the very spot in Toledo Spain. Before then, those statutes had faced opposition from both the Church and the monarchy. Pope Alexander the VI seemed to have a different opinion when he gave a statute of purity the nod in the year 1496.

The approval meant that ancient common Christians were entitled to receive honor regardless of their social status in the society. In addition, certain clauses were included in the by laws governing various organizations, guilds, military, and religious orders. The clauses required that individuals were supposed to provide proof of their blood purity. Survival as a new Christian became quite hard. Many were left with no choice other than giving bribes or forging their documents to give an implication of clean blood ancestry.

Basque Country

Manuel Larramendi
Manuel Larramendi

Manuel Larramendi was a man of noble character. He was tasked with justifying who among the inhabitants of Basque country deserved to be exempted from paying taxes. Ordinarily, the expansion of Umayyad Caliphate beyond Hispania was yet to reach the Basque country. According to popular belief, the inhabitants of Basque were pure in blood as opposed to the larger Spain territory whose inhabitants had interacted and intermarried.

Due to their perceived purity, many of the Basques were given dynamic positions within the government, a concept which was born out of the realization that after the reconquest, many lineages of Spanish descent originated from Basque. In the 19th century as civilization slowly started catching up with the world Spain included, the limpieza de sangre tests began to dwindle. As much as the laws were still in practice, individuals were rarely subjected to blood purity questioning.

There was an occurrence though that confirmed that the laws were still in use from time to time. King Ferdinand VII declared in the year 1804 that every spouse had to undergo the blood purity tests before marrying a military order’s knight. The laws were however, discontinued for the army in the year 1865.