CHUETAS ("Pork-Eaters") or INDIVIDUOS DELA CALLE ("Ghetto People"):
Names given to the descendants of the secret Jews in Majorca, who at heart were still faithful to Judaism, but who, in order to induce the belief that they were good Christians, publicly ate pork ("chuya," diminutive "chueta"); the second term, "Ghetto People," is self-explanatory. Their fate was similar to that of the Cagots of the Pyrenees, who are still held in abhorrence by the natives of that region. People were afraid to approach them; at church they sat apart; and even in the cemetery their bodies were isolated. When the tribunal of the Inquisition was established in Majorca in 1488, it granted a general amnesty to all Jews that solicited pardon for their apostasy, and it received back the repentant ones, to the number of 680, on payment of a considerable fine. Beginning with 1509, however, several secret Jews were publicly burned before the Gate of Jesus at Palma; and in 1679, when a synagogue was discovered in an outlying house, several hundred of them were condemned by the tribunal to imprisonment for life, and their property was confiscated.
To escape these continuous persecutions and extortions, a number of Chuetas, reputed to be the wealthiest inhabitants of Palma, decided to leave the "Golden Island" in an English vessel which they had hired for the purpose; and they had set sail, when unfavorable winds compelled them to return to the harbor of Palma. After having been imprisoned for five years, these unfortunates were, in 1691, condemned by the Inquisition to the confiscation of their property, and more than fifty of them were garroted and then burned at the stake. Among the latter were Raphael Valls, "an excellent rabbi"; Raphael Benito Terongi, his most faithful pupil; and Catalina Terongi, a sister of the latter. These hero-martyrs were commemorated by Majorcan troubadours, whose verses are still sung by the women of the island while at their work. The Inquisition did its utmost to fan the prejudice of the people against the outlawed. Their portraits were placed in the Dominican monastery; and in 1755 a list was published in which were mentioned the names and rank of all those condemned to death or to confiscation of property from 1645 to 1691.
Not until the publication of the royal decree, Dec. 16, 1782, was an amelioration effected in the condition of these people, who were thenceforward permitted to reside in any street in the city of Palma and in any part of the island, and were no longer to be called Jews, Hebrews, or Chuetas, under penalty of the galleys or imprisonment in the fortress. Three years later they were declared eligible to the army and the navy as well as to public offices. Notwithstanding, as late as 1857 there appeared a special book directed against them. It bore the title "La Sinagoga Balear. Historia de los Judios de Mallorca," and the purpose of the author, Juan de la Puerta Vizcains, was, by means of it, to levy blackmail upon them. They, however, bought up all but three copies of the work. The descendants of the Chuetas, who bear to-day the same names that their ancestors bore in the fourteenth century, now occupy a respected position in industry and agriculture, as well as in the departments of science and politics.
- Kayserling, Gesch. der Juden in Spanien und Portugal, i. 178 et seq.;
- M. Levin, Ein Besuch bei den "Leuten der Gasse" in Palma, in Brüll's Jahrb. i. 132 et seq.;
- Rev. Et. Juives, lxiv. 297 et seq.