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COUTINHO, FERNANDO:

Defender of the Jews, councilor of the supreme court, and afterward Bishop of Silves, in the reigns of Manuel and João III. of Portugal. When, in Feb., 1497, Manuel agitated the question of compulsory baptism of the Jews, Coutinho energetically protested against any forcible measures in matters of faith, saying that "no compulsion and persecution can make a sincere Christian out of a single Jew." When a Marano of Loulé in Algarve was accused, in 1531, of having spoken disrepectfully of the Virgin Mary, and the royal council sent the proofs to Bishop Coutinho, he refused to pass judgment. In his decision he justified himself by saying that the Maranos were to be considered as Jews and not as Christians; for in being forcibly baptized they had not thereby accepted Christianity, and hence could not be treated as apostates from the Christian religion. "Even if I were not a man of seventy," he continues, "and were I more in accord with the present time, I would still pronounce the verdict to be false; since it is clear and evident that the law condemns it. The provost who brought the action, and all the witnesses, ought to be tortured; for no witnesses are ever called that have not been bribed with money or otherwise. I will have nothing to do with the matter. I need not act the part of Pontius Pilate. Let other, younger men pass judgment."

Bibliography:
  • The decision in Hereulano, Da Origem e Estabelecimento da Inquisição em Portugal, i. 120, in Symmicta Lusitana, xxxi. 70 et seq.;
  • G. Heine, Beiträge zur Gesch. im Zeitalter der Reformation, in Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Gesch. ix. 178 et seq.;
  • Kayserling, Gesch. der Juden in Portugal, pp. 130 et seq., 183 et seq.
D. M. K.
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