"The 1492 Expulsion Chronicles"
In 1492 Columbus, who was a Jew (Yahudi) had converted to catholicism to avoid persecution; and here is why.
In the year of 1492, in the Hebrew month of Adar, the golden age that had been Spain's came to an end. The king announced that the Jews were to be banished from his land, and had it not been for G-d's grace, all would have perished: men, women and children. It was in that month - the secular month of February - that the king sent out a proclamation to all the ministers, nobles and officials, that the Jews were to be banished from Spain, and that all had to leave the realm within three months from the 9th of Iyar, namely by no latter than the 9th of Av of that year.
And this is the text of the proclamation:
"We who rule by G-d's grace, Ferdinand and Isabella, rulers of Castile and Aragon, rulers of Leon and Murcia, rulers of Majorca and Sardinia, rulers of Granada and Navarra, etc.: The cries of the Marranos have come up to us, upon some of whom we have decreed burning and upon others to be imprisoned forever, for they have been found wayward in our religion, while some of those who have remained free of these punishments, have done so because they have repented their ways completely.
Yet the hands of the inquisitors are still stretched forth to investigate the evil of their deeds, and they cried out to us bitterly that it is the Jew who to this day have been the reason for their rebellion and their forsaking of the Christian religion, by teaching them their ways, their laws and their beliefs, as well as the laws of their feasts and festivals, and as long as Jews are to be found among them in Spain, it will be impossible for them to be complete and true Christians. We have therefore seen fit to totally banish the Jews from all places in our kingdom, even though they deserve a greater punishment than this for what they have done.
However, we have had mercy on them, and we are content to limit ourselves to this punishment. We therefore decree and command that every male and female, young and old, who is a Jew and who lives in our kingdom is to be banished and is to leave all those places where they live and to go outside the provinces of our kingdom to another land within the coming three months, starting with 1 May and ending on the last day of July. And whoever disobeys us and does not leave will be sentenced to death by hanging or to convert to Christianity. Whoever wishes to convert and become a Christian from this day on for the coming three months may remain in his home with all his possessions, his land and his movables, as before, and in addition will be exempt from any tax or servitude. So, too, will he be exempt from investigation by the inquisition for a period of ten years.
"We also decree that all judges, officers, advisors and leaders of the country or any official of any kind in every province and city is to look after the Jews, and any person of any rank who harms any Jew, either bodily or in his possessions through theft or robbery, whether within the city or outside it, is to be hanged immediately on a tree by the official or judge or leader of the city. In order to ensure this, we hereby decree that every official or judge in each province and each city is to place the royal seal, on the home of each Jew, wherever he lives. "And we decree and order every official and judge in every province and each city to send a crier in the markets and streets to announce this decree of ours, as well as in every Jewish community in every province and each city on the coming first day of May. And every official or judge or any other government employee who disobeys this order will be rebuked and punished as is seen fit."
The messengers went forth carrying the instructions throughout Spain, telling the Jews that if they converted to the cross, they would eat of the fat of the land, each under his vine and his fig tree, while those who would not convert would be forced to leave the country within three months.
When the Jews heard this, a great and anguished cry arose among them. And wherever the king's pronouncement was heard, the Jews went into mourning. For many Jews, this pronouncement arrived just before the festival of Passover, and they spent the first day of the festival dressed in sackcloth and ashes, and ate and drank nothing the entire day. Even those who did eat, did so with the bitterness of the bitter herbs in their mouths, for G-d had sent forth His angels against all the houses of Israel. Then the Jews went to the king's palace to cry for deliverance, but there was none to hear their plea.
It was during that time that Don Isaac Abravanel, Don Abram Seneor and the other elders of Israel came to plead to the king and queen to have the decree annulled, but they were ignored. On that day, Don Isaac Abravanel was given permission to speak and defend his people. There he stood, like a lion in wisdom and strength, and in the most eloquent language he addressed the king and queen. Don Abram Seneor, too, addressed the monarchs, and eventually all agreed not to pursue the matter any more.
Now that they saw that the decree was to be enforced, they all said to one another: "What will we gain by speaking, because the king is not listening? Happy is he who speaks to an ear that listens. Let us at least receive an extension of time, so as to make matters a little easier for us." But even on this the king refused to listen to them. He had evidently decided to destroy all the Jews, and hoped that by giving them so short a time they would not be able to leave the country.
It was then that the two sages whom we have mentioned decided to write their words down and to send them to Queen Isabella, for they thought that maybe by this means the queen might consent to their plea, so that they would live and not die. Thus Don Isaac Abravanel sent a letter to Queen Isabella, in which he chastised her mercilessly and showed no respect for her rank, "because he had poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors" (Isa. 53:12). He then arranged to have the letter delivered to the queen while he fled for his life, knowing that he had incurred the death penalty for his action, for he had written that G-d would avenge the Jews from her and her household, and so on. He also reminded her that all those who had been bad to the Jews had ultimately perished.
Don Abram Seneor also wrote her a marvelous letter, in which he rebuked her for being ungrateful for everything he had done for her and had now banished him and his people from the country. These letters were given to the queen, and when she opened and read them, she became terrified because of what Don Isaac Abravanel had written, and sought to have him captured, but he had managed to flee and escape. All who read these letters agreed that they were masterpieces, and it is said that from the time that the monarchy had been instituted in Castile there had never been letters such as these. Yet these were of no avail, because the king's decree could not be annulled.
But there was worse to come. The enemies of the Jews approached the king and said to him: "Your majesty! How can you permit the Jews to leave the country with all their money and possessions? Your fathers amassed fortunes, and you are squandering them. You must do something about this." The king therefore told his officials, "Let us find a way to foil these people." Then a decree went forth from the king that every Jew who left the country had to leave some of his property to the crown in payment of any taxes that might be owed. Furthermore, the decree stated that the Jews had to leave their best land for just this purpose.
In those terrible days, if a Jew owed a non-Jew money, he would be beaten mercilessly until he paid, while if a non-Jew owed a Jew money and the Jew went to court to collect it, the judge would ignore the case - and even if there was a signed promissory note backing the Jew's claim. Then, once the Jew left the country, the note automatically became worthless.
In those awful days, thousands and even tens of thousands of Jews converted, and this even included some who were leaving or who had left the country, as they saw what a terrible fate awaited them in their travels. Even Don Abram Seneor and his [son]-in-law, Meir Melamed, among the greatest Jews in Spain, were also baptized, willingly or unwillingly, for I have heard it rumored that Queen Isabella had sworn that if Don Abram did not convert, she would wipe out all the communities, and that Don Abram did what he did in order to save the Jews, but not from his own heart. His [son]-in-law also followed him, because it was important for the queen to have the two convert, by whatever means necessary and that they continue to serve her until the day of her death. And on that day that these two were converted, their children and families followed suit, and they worshipped other gods.
Then King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella appointed the sons of Don Abram Seneor as judges and military officers, and they became prominent throughout Spain, being given lands over which they ruled, and all this for changing their religion.
pp. 13-17 Section I - The Minor Order of Elijah (Seder Eliyahu Zuta), quoted from Elijah Capsali (c. 1483-1555)
"yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth G-d a service."