5-NEW CHRISTIANS

 

When, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, the prelates decided to revamp the image of the revered messiah Apollonius by changing his name and turning him into the son of God, the founding fathers had a problem. The Apollonius look alike had to be an Essene from Palestine, and that meant he had to be a Jew. How does one build a Roman religion based on the teachings of a Jew? Well, they did it by likening the money-lending Jews of the Temple of Jerusalem to Jews in general. By conjuring up a story where the new messiah was violently opposed to these usurers, and where these usurers were responsible for his horrible death on the cross, it would be one way to turn him into a very likeable Jew. Furthermore, the faithful would readily accept the idea that their long-departed messiah, Christ in Greek, had accomplished many miracles and was indeed the Son of God. But that created another problem, for the Roman Christians were now inclined to believe that Jews were responsible for the death of their Christ, and thereafter, they weren’t unduly upset to see Jews tortured, burned at the stake, or despoiled and banned from their homes. Nonetheless, if the Jews became the prime enemies of the Christian Church, it’s not that they had wanted it so, it’s just that the Christians made it so.

Geographically, France is the hub of Europe, and it naturally became the cornerstone of Christianity when the Church of Rome took over the administration of Gaul and the Western Roman Empire after Constantin’s departure for Byzantium. Clovis, the Church’s first anointed king of divine right was a Franc. During his reign, he had his hands full persecuting the Arians and the barbarians, the Appolinius followers who refused to accept the Nicene Creed that stated their messiah was the Son of God and not a mere prophet. Once the Appolinius followers in Gaul had been forced to convert to Christianity, the Christians turned their attention to the Jews. In 629 CE, the Pope directed King Dagobert to expulse the Jews from Christian Gaul. Later, in 996 CE, when King Robert the Pious came to power in France, he burned a great number of Jews at the stake. When in 1009 the Muslims burned the alleged Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Christians blamed the Jews, and consequently, many French Jews were again tortured and massacred. Later, in 1096, Jews started being systematically despoiled, and burned at the stake or expulsed from the realm. It was the start of the first crusade, and Philip 1st and his noblemen took advantage of the situation in order to replenish their coffers. By despoiling the Jews and expulsing them, they were killing two birds with one stone. Philip was not only doing his Christian duty but he had found a way to finance the crusade ordered by Pope Urban II. Over the next centuries, when King Philippe Augustus and others needed money they would let the Jews back in for a fee, and the whole process would start over again. However, in 1394, Charles VI officially declared the definite expulsion of Jews from France, and as many as 100 000 French Jews made their way to Spain.

They chose Spain not only because it was close to France, but it was also because the Muslims were by then in full control of Spain and were more tolerant towards other religions. And because the French Jews were moneymen and businessmen, the Muslims were favorably disposed to welcome them. However, as the Christians started reconquering the Iberian Peninsula in 1478 CE, the Pope ordered an inquisition as soon as it became feasible. The Jews were again forced to convert to Christianity, and if they refused, they were burned at the stake. Understandably, many Sephardim chose to convert while continuing to practise their religion in secret, and they became known as marranos. In 1492 CE, they were expelled from Spain and went to Portugal. Not surprisingly, the Pope ordered inquisitions in that country, and in 1540 CE, many of the great Sephardic families fled to the Netherlands, an ex-Spanish colony. William the Silent, a tolerant man, had gained that colony’s independence from Spain, and though fully aware of the Sephardim’s dubious conversion to Christianity, he welcomed them, labelling them new Christians.

When, in 1602 CE, in Amsterdam, the ‘new Christians’ joined forces with the ‘Protestant Christians’, the Huguenots from France, they created the Dutch East India Company which sparked the creation of the world of credit that we enjoy today.

 

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