Jews first settled in Amsterdam beginning in the late 16th century. The first to arrive were Sephardic Jews, as the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews are called. Many of them, called conversos, had been forced to convert outwardly to Catholicism, and took advantage of the greater religious freedom in the Netherlands following its independence from Catholic Spain in 1579. Religious freedom and freedom from censorship contributed to making Amsterdam the center of European Jewish printing. In fact, Amsterdam became the center for all European printing; in the last quarter of the 17th century there were 273 book printers in Amsterdam.