PORTUGAL E OS JUDEUS (PORTUGAL AND THE JEWS)
Launch of Volume 3rd, of Portugal e os Judeus,by Jorge Martins, evokes the 267th Anniversary of the execution of Antonio Jose da Silva, 'The Jew" of Bernardo Santareno.
The launch of the 3rd volume of the, “most complete work on the history of Portuguese Jews in one and a half centuries, since Meyer Kayseling’, according to the renowned historian Anita Novinsky, took place on the anniversary of the execution by the Inquisition of the great playwright, Antonio Jose Da Silva.
The launch took place on Thursday October 18th, exactly 267 years since 1739, when the ‘Portuguese Moliere’ was garrotted, burned and his ashes thrown into the Tejo River. The event took place at the Santiago Alquimista theatre in the Alfama district of Lisboa, spitting distance from the Se or Cathedral. Guests were greeted at the entrance by a hooded Dominican friar holding a sign containing the coat of arms of the Inquisition (head and shoulder picture of Domenic holding a sword in one hand and an olive branch in the other.
The sign attached to the stiff full size monk statute said, “Today there is auto de fe”. On the stage were two women and three men dressed in black. The women came to the fore of the stage, put on black hoods and slowly and methodically read off the names of victims or would be victims of the Inquisition: Antonio Homem, Chancellor of the University of Coimbra, burned alive at Lisbon in 1624, Samuel Usque, author of the Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel, 1553, Ferrara, Uriel Acosta (Gabriel da Costa), committed suicide, Amsterdam 1640, Baruch Spinoza (Bento Espinoza), Manuel Fernandes Villareal, philosopher, burned alive at Lisbon, etc.
Scenes of the torture and confession of Antonio Jose da Silva were dramatized with the pronouncement of his sentence. This was followed by the dramatization of excerpts from the play, ‘O Judeu”, based on the life of Antonio Jose Da Silva, by Bernardo Santareno, which play is celebrating its 40th anniversary (the 1st edition was published in 1969). Portions of the book were burnt on stage in a clay urn with an open flame. This was followed by the booming voice of actor Jorge Sequerra (himself, a Marrano) from the balcony, his voice brimming with indignation, preaching the auto de fe sermon.
The launch of the two previous volumes took place on symbolical charged dates, the start and end of the Inquisition (1536-1821), and on the anniversary of the Lisbon Massacre in April of 1506 when up to 4,000 New Christians (remember, there were no more Jews in Portugal after 1497!). Contemporary accounts describe women, men and children and men butchered and burnt alive by a raging mob led by Dominican friars carrying large wooden crosses. King Manuel ordered the two leading friars hung in public with about another 60 ringleaders.
Author Jorge Martins has produced a milestone work, thoroughly researched, with extensive bibliographies and chronology. Presently, it is available in Portuguese only. To view the books and pictures of the actors visit Portugaleosjudeus.blogspot.com