Historical Involvement Of The Jewish People

1655 Words7 Pages
Beginning as early as 1500 BCE with the Olmecs, cacao spread throughout the world, becoming a luxury enjoyed by everyone from Mayan Aja, to Aztec Tlahtohqueh, from Spanish friars to French courtiers and English noblemen, to the chocolate loving throngs in the supermarkets of the world today. While chocolate was brought to the old world primarily by exploring Catholic Spaniards, many cultures and religions played vital roles in the development of the “food of the gods”. In this post, I will concentrate on the historical involvement of the Jewish people in the cacao trade throughout the centuries, and examine how, as a result of Jewish contributions that continue to this day, the holy land came to flow not only with milk and honey, but…show more content…
The inquisition’s aim was to wage war on any non Catholic denominations in order to protect the Church’s majority. With the Spanish Alhambra declaration in 1492, hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to either convert to Christianity or face expulsion from Spain Those who converted were called conversos or marranos, and many of them converted publicly, but continued practicing Judaism, this latter group being called crypto-Jews (Marcus 51, Pérez and Hochroth).

At the time that Jews were being expelled from Spain, King John II of Portugal, seeing an economic opportunity, offered Jews asylum in return for one ducat (gold or silver coin) and one-fourth of the wealth they carried into the country from Spain (Marcus 53). It’s estimated that 120,000 Jews fled to Portugal to seek asylum despite the economic extortion, however within six months the King had declared that any Jew remaining in Portugal would be enslaved. Despite several recent Jewish expulsion orders from France, some of the Jews were able to get out of Portugal and settle in nearby Bayonne, France, and it is in this city that we get our first whiff of chocolate ("Bayonne | Jewish Virtual Library”).

While chocolate historians are unsure as to how exactly cacao was introduced to France, in “The True History of Chocolate,” Sophie and Michael Coe present three theories: First, it was introduced by the
Open Document