on March 24, 2020

The Bezerras, survivors of the Inquisition

on March 24, 2020

Os Bezerras, sobreviventes da Inquisição

Several members of the Bezerra family, belonging to different branches, such as Bezerra de Araújo, Bezerra Cavalcanti, Bezerra de Melo, Bezerra de Menezes, Bezerra do Vale and Bezerra Monteiro they marked their names in national history, especially leading Northeastern politics. The surname has been used for centuries, and there are even those who defend the thesis that it dates back to the Celtic people, former inhabitants of the northern Iberian peninsula.

For some scholars, the long history of the Bezerra family rules out the possibility that the main trunk has a Jewish origin, but marriages with families of new Christians originated new branches that go back even to Sephardic, as in the case of Bezerra de Menezes. Already other researchers point out that the surname can indeed go back to the Jews, from the re-reading of the word BeZeRRa, which in Deuteronomy 3 appears as BeZeR and that it would see from the Hebrew bTzur, which means rock or song.

There are documents that register the surname still in the 12th century, in the kingdom of Galicia (Galicia), one of the current 17 autonomous communities in Spain that covers the provinces of Lugo (where the family is believed to have arisen), La Coruña, Pontevedra and Orense. Galicia is very famous for its capital, the important cultural and university center of Santiago de Compostela, a traditional pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages due to the tomb of the apostle James.

During the low Middle Ages, Galicia was controlled by few noble families and the clergy, among them the Bezerra. However, at the end of the 15th century, in the dispute between Joana from Portugal and Isabel, the Catholic, from Spain, the Galicians sided with Joana, who ended up defeated. In retaliation, Isabel established a series of sanctions on Galicia, including the ban on the use of Galician in official documents. The setback took a large part of the Bezerra to migrate to Portugal.

The first known Bezerra in the Portuguese court was D. Afonso de Melo Bezerra, faithful squire of Queen Izabel (later Santa Izabel of Portugal). He was appointed knight of the kingdom by King D. Diniz and became Commander of the Order of Christ and the Order of Santa Maria. His coat of arms was granted by royal decree.

The Bezerras in Brazil

Pernambuco was the gateway to the Bezerra family in Brazil, in 1535. The first members of the family who arrived here came from Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal, located in the north of the country. Antonio Martins Bezerra and your wife, Maria Martins Bezerra, arrived at the captaincy accompanying the first grantee, Duarte Coelho. Your son, Domingos Bezerra Felpa Barbuda, was the first Senhor do Engenho São Pantaleão, from Várzea do Capibaribe, also known as Engenho Monteiro.

Domingos Bezerra Felpa Barbuda is the patriarch of the branch Bezerra Monteiro and father of the branch patriarch Bezerra de Menezes, despite its economic power, it was investigated by Santo Oficio, being known by the contemporaries like the old Jew. Many members of different branches of the Bezerra family ended up sentenced to death for Holy Inquisition.

From Pernambuco, the various branches descended from Antonio Martins Bezerra spread throughout Brazil. Noteworthy are the Bezerra Monteiro and Bezerra Cavalcanti in Pernambuco, Bezerra do Vale in Pernambuco and Ceará, the Bezerra de Araújo, from Sobral, Ceará, Bezerra de Mello, from Pernambuco with branches in Rio de Janeiro, and the Bezerra de Menezes, branch of the family present in Bahia, Pernambuco, Sergipe and, above all, in the city of Crato, Ceará.

Important to remember

Last names are indications, but they do not determine whether or not you are descendants of Sephardic Jews. To prove this link, a genealogical study is really necessary.

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