The genetic signatures of people in Spain and Portugal provide new and explicit evidence of the mass conversions of Sephardic Jews and Muslims to Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries after Christian armies wrested Spain back from Muslim control, a team of geneticists reports.I was actually surprised by the 20% figure. The Sephardic population was a large and important one on the peninsula for hundreds of years, but I didn't expect one-in-five Iberians today to have Jewish ancestry. And the scientists doing the study believe that's the percentage AFTER the terrible expulsion in 1492.
Twenty percent of the population of the Iberian Peninsula has Sephardic Jewish ancestry and 11 percent have DNA reflecting Moorish ancestors, the geneticists have found. Historians have debated how many Jews converted and how many chose exile. “One wing grossly underestimates the number of conversions,” said Jane S. Gerber, an expert on Sephardic history at the City University of New York. . . .
Because most of the Y chromosome remains unchanged from father to son, the proportions of Sephardic and Moorish ancestry detected in the present population are probably the same as those just after the 1492 expulsions. A high proportion of people with Sephardic ancestry was to be expected, Dr. Ray said. “Jews formed a very large part of the urban population up until the great conversions,” he said.
The 11% figure for Muslim ancestry was closer to what I expected.
This is going to have a significant impact on the study of Spanish history, as well as on politics. Right-wingers like the late dictator Francisco Franco and his current proteges are going to have a harder time now claiming that weird Spanish-Catholic-Visigothic purity.