Dona Gracia was born in Lisbon, Portugal. The family was from Aragon Spain and was forcibly converted Jews . While still Jewish, they had fled to Portugal when the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, expelled the Jews in 1492. Five years later, in 1497, they were forcibly converted to Catholicism along with all the other Jews in Portugal at that time.
In 1528, Dona Gracia married the very rich black pepper trader Francisco Mendes who belonged to a very prominant Jewish family . Francisco Mendes directed, along with his brother Diogo, a powerful trading company and bank of world repute with agents across Europe and around the Mediterranean. The House of Mendes/Benveniste became particularly important spice traders. They also traded in silver - the silver was needed to pay the Asians for those spices.
When her husband died Dona Gracia took over the trading company and bank. She developed a net work to help Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity , escape the inquisition. She lived in various countries in Europe, but finally came to Tiberias, where she bought a piece of land. She wanted to attract Jewish families to populate this area, and so found the state of Israel. But this was not to be. The male dominated world didn't trust a woman to be clever and skillful enough to do this.
In this hotel in Tiberias we could see how rich Dona Gracia was and how people at the time were dressed.
With thanks to Denise Nesbitt, who created ABC and to Roger the new Captain of our team.For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar . This week we are looking for words beginning with D.