A term that generally referred to the ‘‘secret’’ Jews of Portugal
and Spain in the fifteenth century, who converted to Christianity
when their religion was outlawed, but who continued to
practice their religion in the privacy of their families. The existence
of such Jews was amply demonstrated by Jews who migrated
and soon afterward reemerged to practice publicly the
Jewish faith. The term was also applied to a Jewish secret fraternity
that arose in Spain in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Its members met in the greatest secrecy at inns, and used
grips, signs, and passwords (see Freemasons’ Magazine 3 [1860]
The term ‘‘marranos’’ (hogs) was used contemptuously at
the time to denote Moors and Jews.