CASTELO BRANCO, city in central Portugal, S. of *Covilhã. A Jewish community existed there until the expulsion and forcible conversions of 1496–97. In 1384/85, one Lopo Vasques was granted the rights to all the taxes paid by the Jews of Castelo Branco and the revenues from their contracting activities. In 1393 the same privileges were transferred to the commander of the citadel of Obidos. After 1496–97 Castelo Branco became an important *Marrano center. Some of the most distinguished Portuguese Marranos of the 16th and 17th centuries were born there, among them *Amatus Lusitanus, Elijah Montalto, and Antonio *Ribeiro Sanchez. Amatus Lusitanus left Castelo to study medicine in Salamanca, returned to Portugal to practice medicine, moved to the Low Countries, and finally arrived in Salonica in 1559, where he lived and died as a Jew. The celebrated Portuguese author, Camillo Castello-Branco (1825–1890), was a descendant of the Marranos of Castelo Branco. When in the 1920s the Portuguese Marranos had renewed contacts with Judaism a number of Marranos in Castelo Branco returned to the faith. The local museum contains a stone with a Hebrew inscription from the synagogue of *Belmonte dated 1297.
Roth, Marranos, index; N. Slouschz, Ha-Anusim be-Portugal (1932), 95, 98. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. de P. Boléo, in: Revue d'histoire de la médecine hebraïque, 83 (1969), 5–12; J.O. Leibowitz, in: Sefunot, 11 (1971/77), 341–51 (Heb.); Z. Rudy, in: Korot, 6 (1972/5), 568–77 (Heb.).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.