Portugal has been a melting-pot where different people and cultures mixed, giving the Portuguese people an eclectic matrix and unique genetic code. In this small territory of 89.000 km2, natives, Latins, people from the centre and from the north of Europe and of Semitic origin (Jews and Muslims) met and cross-bread, sometimes due to political decisions repeated throughout the Middle Ages.
The book that the Portuguese Postal Services now publishes, seeks to raise the memory of a time when Christians and Jews coexisted in the same municipal space, just as water can coexist with olive oil in a glass without mixing. In fact, both religions forbade mixed marriages with what one of them called infidels and the other called goyim.
The memory that we propose to reconstruct refers to the urban spaces, to the Jewish quarters identified in contemporaneous written documentation which has been gradually removed in the course of time either by natural catastrophes or human hand. The latter render it difficult to reconstitute the urbanism of medieval and early modern times, all the more so as the presence of the Jewish minority was officially extinct by the religicide of the 4 of December 1496, the date of the edict expelling the Jewish and Muslim minorities from the Kingdom of Portugal. Following the edict and the forced christening, the space, which had formerly been the symbol of the segregation of a people, was opened up to Christendom, followed by the transformation of buildings, such as synagogues and schools that to some degree represented a religious, judicial, administrative and cultural autonomy, into churches and dwellings for people of a different social and religious origin.
In spite of the havoc that almost erased the memory of the presence of the Jews in the municipal space, we did not want to forego expurgating it from the oblivion it has been consigned to and resuscitating the subtle traces of this patrimony which, until this day still lives on in the municipalities in which streets and districts these people’s presence was customary.
Maria José Ferro Tavares
Technical DetailsIssue Date: 05.07.2010
Designer: Folk Design
Size: 40 x 30,6 mm, 95 x 125 mm
Values: ?1,57, ?2,46, ?2,50, ?3,78