Spanish Jew who converted to Christianity to escape persecution but continued to practice Judaism secretly. During fierce persecutions in the late 14th century, many Jews died rather than renounce their faith, but at least 100,000 converted to Christianity in order to survive. In time the Marranos came to form a compact society within Spain, growing rich and gaining political power. They were viewed with suspicion, and the name Marrano was originally a term of abuse. Resentment against them led to riots and massacres in 1473. In 1480 the Inquisition intensified the persecution, and thousands of Marranos lost their lives. In 1492 a royal edict ordered the expulsion of all Jews who refused to renounce their faith. Many Marranos settled in North Africa and Western Europe. By the 18th century, emigration and assimilation had led to the disappearance of the Marranos in Spain.