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Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY

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Author Topic: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY  (Read 6291 times)
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« Reply #45 on: December 07, 2008, 04:56:39 pm »

                                              Gracia Mendes and Her Times

                                                  Gracia Mendes Timeline


The young Semah and Meir Benveniste are brought to Portugal by their father. Their Christian names are Francisco and Diogo Mendes.

Forced conversions in Portugal

Gracia is born in Portugal. Her outside name was Beatrice de Luna. In the family she was Gracia (Hannah) Nasi. Her brother — Dr. Miguez — was the royal physician.

Diogo Mendes opens a branch of the House of Mendes in Antwerp. By 1525 the brothers control the largest share of the pepper and spice trade, buying directly from the King of Portugal (the only bulk importer). The capital at his disposal was 300,000 — 400,000 florins He made loans to the Kings of Portugal and England.
Birth of Gracia’s nephew Joao Miguez (Joseph Nasi)

Gracia is married to Francisco Mendes. Brother of Diogo. They had migrated with their father in 1492 as one of 600 privileged families. Their family names were Semah and Meir Benveniste. Starting as dealers in precious stones, they became wealthy and important traders, participating in the hugely profitable spice trade

Diogo is arrested for heresy (being a secret "Judaizer"). Using letters of safe conduct from the (Holy Roman) Emperor he is released the same day.

Diogo is arrested on the word of a child who, with his mother and 3 siblings, Diogo has previously helped escape to Salonica. Diogo is moved to Brussels. Antwerp puts up obstacles, demands the right to try him. The King of Portugal, who will lose 200,000 ducats if Diogo cannot complete business deals, instructs his representatives to intervene. Mary of Hungary and Henry VIII also support Diogo.
September. Diogo is released under bail of 50,000 ducats and a large cash payment. Charges are dropped.
The Emperor prohibits New Christians from travelling through Antwerp on their way to Turkey. The House of Mendes is able to help most travelers anyway.

The New Christian community attempts to pay the Pope 30,000 ducats to prohibit the Inquisition from Antwerp. The deal is not completed due to mutual suspicion.

Francisco dies, Gracia is left with an infant daughter Reyna (publicly known as Brianda). The administration of Francisco’s fortune is divided between Gracia, who is to act in the name of her daughter, and Diogo
Papal brief on May 23 opens the Inquisition in Portugal, on the Spanish model. New Christians cannot easily emigrate to non-Christian countries, but can go to Northern Europe. Gracia moves to Antwerp with her daughter Brianda, her unmarried sister Brianda (namesake of Gracia’s daughter),. and her nephews Joao Miguez (a.k.a. Joseph Nasi, later Duke of Naxos) and his younger brother. They stop for a while in England. In Antwerp, Brianda marries Diogo.

New Christians guaranteed the ability to settle in Antwerp with full rights, with immunity from prosecution for crimes committed elsewhere.

Inquisition begins in Lisbon. Mass emigration to Antwerp and (Spanish) Italy.

Massive arrests in Italy of New Christians on their way to Ancona or Salonica. Suspicions that their finds were provided by Diogo. Three leading merchants of Antwerp hold a meeting send 2,000 ducats to Milan to provide for the prisoners and bribe the commissioners. An employee of the firm who is at this meeting is later arrested in Italy and informs on the secret meeting and colony. All suspect New Christians in England are arrested, although later released. Gracia gets Diogo to agree to leave Flanders within a year.

Diogo dies. Gracia is named administrator of Diogo’s half of the business on behalf of his widow and infant daughter. Gracia must fight charges of heresy against Diogo (else his property will be confiscated)> The charges are withdrawn when she lends the emperor 100,000 ducats interest free.

Gracia is pressured by the Emperor to marry her daughter to a much older (Old Christian) nobleman, Don Francisco d’Aragon. Aragon promises the Emperor a 200,000 loan from his wife’s money if the marriage takes place. She is personally summoned by Mary, ex-Queen of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, and sister of the Emperor who proposes the match to her.

Gracia leaves Antwerp with her sister and the two young girls , under pretext of a vacation in Aachem (Aix-la-Chapelle) but instead settles in Venice. She has previously arranged with the government for a safe-conduct. Much of the fortune is left in Antwerp with Joao Miguez.

The two widows are accused of apostasy and ordered to appear before the Council of Brabrant. When they fail to appear, an embargo is placed on the 40 treasure chests they had left in Antwerp. Miguez enters into delaying negotiations with the Emperor. Eventually the Emperor accepts a payment of 30,000 crowns in settlement of all claims. However, the Queen argues for total confiscation. During the protracted negotiations Miguez manages to sell some of the firm’s Antwerp property and finally flees to Venice. Meanwhile, Gracia has arranged for the Venetian government to sequester venetian property of German merchants who had custody of her treasure in Antwerp, and was able to recover some of the latter in return for lifting of the embargo. Despite serious losses the firm is still wealthy, and out of Spanish control at last.

Brianda, possibly jealous of Gracia’s control of the company and its fortunes, denounces her as a Judaizer, and announced that the plan was to eventually leave Venice for Turkey. The Venetian government embargoes the family property, placed Gracia under arrest, and places the girls in a nunnery. Brianda employs an anti-Jewish French agent to lodge a similar denunciation in France, but is in turn denounced by the agent, so that the property she had hoped to receive is also placed under embargo.
Joseph Hamon, a Sephardic Jew who was physician to the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, brings the story to the Sultan who, is hoping for the transfer of the Mendes business empire to Turkey. The Sultan sends an envoy to Venice requesting that Gracia be allowed to travel immediately to Constantinople.

Joseph flees Amsterdam and settles in France. He enters the circle of Kind Francis I.

Gracie has arranged for her release and has been reunited with her daughter. She is given one month to swear to be a true Christian, or to never return to Venice. She is unwilling to move to Constantinople at this time, without arranging for the transfer of the business
1550 —

February They move to Ferrara, where Jews were welcomed and immune from attack on religious grounds, at invitation of the Duke. Within a few months Brianda joins her, with her daughter. They begin to live openly as Jews.
They return to Venice to visit with the Sultan’s envoy, under safe-conduct.
July 8. The Venetian Senate issues an expulsion order against the New Christians. (By the end of the century the policy is reversed and Venice becomes a haven for the Marranos.)

An outbreak of plague. The Jews are believed to have brought it on their journeys and are required to leave the city. Gracia organized their movements, provided supplies and money. Eventually the scare dies down and the Jews return.

The first Spanish version of the traditional prayer book is published in Ferrara. This is followed by a translation of the Bible. The edition published for Christians is dedicated to the Duke; the one for Jews is dedicated to "one so noble and magnificent that it would adorn her nobility" — "the Very Magnificent Lady Doña Gracia Naci[sic]".
This in turn is followed by "Concolation for the Tribulations of Israel" a prose poem in Portuguese recounting the whole of Jewish history, written to assist the crypto-Jews of Portugal and prevent them from being overwhelmed by what they had undergone. This is also dedicated to Gracia: "who has seen revived the intrinsic piety of Miriam, offering her life to save her brethren? The great prudence of Deborah, in governing her people? That infinite virtue and great sanctity of Esther, in helping those who are persecuted? The much praised strength of the most chaste and magnanimous widow, Judith, in delivering those hemmed in by travail? [It is]the fortunate Jewess Nasci. She it is who at the beginning of their journey greatly helps your necessitous sons… In such wise, with her golden arm and heavenly grasp, she raised moth of those of this people from the depths of this and other infinite travail in which they were kept enthralled in Europe… she brings them to safe lands and does not cease to guide them, and gathers them to the obedience and precepts of their god of old."
The Inquisition spreads further in Europe.

Pope Julius III guarantees that Portuguese New Christians who settle in Ancona will be free from prosecutions by ecclesiastical courts on the basis of practice of Judaism. Upwards of 100 families will migrate to Ancona, live openly as Jews, and open a synagogue.

Julius III extends his concessions to all Jews and Portuguese in Ancona. (In return for payment of 1000 ducats per year.)
Gracia and her family arrive in Constantinople.

Joseph Nasi arrives in Constantinople and declares himself a Jew (and is circumcised); marries Reyna.

The fanatical anti-Jewish Cardinal Giovanni Caraffa becomes Pope Paul IV. In Italy he institutes the Ghetto system, excludes Jews from honorable walks of life, enforces wearing of Jewish badge of Spain. His representative in Ancona arrests the whole of the Portuguese New Christian community and jails them, in violation of guarantees they had received from the city and from previous Popes. This representative takes bribes and allows approximately 50 to go free. He flees to Venice with more than 300,000 ducats of bribes and confiscated money. His successor orders the remaining prisoners shackled together and tortured in public.

Gracia's representatives in Ferrara are denounced to the Inquisition, although no evidence is produced. Her daughter (now called Gracia la chica or Gracia the Younger) and her daughter’s husband (Samuel. Joseph’s brother) are living in Ferrara.

The Sultan’s son and co-ruler, Selim, sends an envoy to the Duke of Ferrara. His mission is to secure permission for Gracia la chica and Samuel to leave for Constantinople. The Emperor and the Pope intervene.
Starting April 13, twenty five prisoners who had refused to abjure Judaism were strangled and burned.
Boycott of Ancona organized by Gracia Mendes.

Gracia la chica and Samuel are allowed to leave Ferrara.

Tiberias is granted to Joseph. He is to be instrumental in its rebuilding.

Joseph negotiates a peace treaty between Poland and Turkey.

Suleiman the Magnificent dies. With Joseph’s help, his son Selim becomes Sultan. Joseph is appointed Dike of Naxos.

Joseph supports the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain ( and offers support of the Ottoman empire).
Gracia Mendes dies
Samuel dies

Joseph dies

The first public Jewish service is held in Amsterdam

Reyna dies.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 05:00:28 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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