Tuesday, 7 August 2012

ABC Wednesday, D for Dona Gracia.

Gracia Mendes Nasi ( 1510–1569) was one of the wealthiest Jewish women of Renaissance Europe.
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.




28 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

I find it appalling how people are forced to change their religion. Still, she sounds like a remarkable woman.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Reader Wil said...

It is appalling to force people to change their religion indeed, Roger! You are absolutely right! She, however, had the courage to fight for her beliefs and she was willing to sacrifice her possessions to help her fellow believers.

Shooting Parrots said...

I agree with Roger that Doña Gracia was indeed a remarkable woman. Religious tolerance was not a strong point of the 15th century and I sometimes wonder if we have made much progress in that department.

Sylvia K said...

I, too, agree with both you and Roger, Wil, she was a remarkable woman indeed! I too feel that it is appalling to force people to change their religion, however, one can't deny her incredible courage! Wonderful, interesting post for the day, as always!

photowannabe said...

Fascinating history and a fascinating woman.
I'm in agreement with the comments too. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Maybe religious tolerance has never gained any more ground since those days Wil - look what is going on in Syria today.

Meryl Jaffe, PhD said...

What a delightfully detailed "D" post. Women's rights and skills - so under-appreciated and overlooked even today.

Leslie: said...

Fascinating post considering what is going on right now in the States with the murder of the Sikkhs. Religion is cultural as well as spiritual and one should never be forced to change.

Leslie
abcw team

Barbara said...

What an amazing woman - fascinating history.

Emille said...

Seems we haven't learned from our mistakes in the past! Thanks for telling the story of Donna Gracia.
That second pic of the Delft Blue is absolutely gorgeous!

Kay L. Davies said...

I agree with Roger (and with you) about people being forced to change their religion. I also believe people should be able to change if they choose, and in some countries they are still not able to do that.
Fascinating story about an amazing woman, Wil. Thanks for the education.
Luv, K

Tito Eric said...

Intriguing story about the dark ages. Thank you for sharing.

Awesome stained glass windows, by the way.

Cheers ... visiting from ABC Wednesday!

Tito Eric
http://turningboholano.blogspot.com/2012/08/impatience.html

Kay said...

Wil, I've been so busy watching the Olympics. We watched your Nederlander high bar gymnast win the Gold tonight. Wow!!! Epke Zonderland was just amazing to watch. Congratulations!

lotusleaf said...

A daring Donna!

Lisa said...

You are sharing fascinating pieces of history with us! She sounds like an amazing woman.

Chris said...

Oh beautiful pictures - I love those plates!

Interesting piece of history. It's sad that they were forced to convert, but interesting that she held so fast to her traditions and still apparently identified herself as Jewish, despite the dangers.

Chris H
ABC Wednesday
D is for Detritus (Oceanography)

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I am calling by as another ABC Wednesday participant. What a fascinating post about an interesting woman, this meme is proving to be fun and has such a great variety of entries.

Ann said...

Such a beautiful story of a strong woman. Such fantastic dishes too.
Ann

chubskulit said...

Interesting history Wil. I have seen two movies depicting the Jews and the torture they suffered, it's painful to watch it actually.

Catching up With ABC.

Daredevil Diva
Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

Suzy said...

A very interesting post and what an amazing woman. thanks for sharing.

Laloofah said...

What an informative post about an interesting woman with a lot of moxie! She makes me think of the bumper sticker I see often that says, "Well behaved women seldom make history." :-)

Reading her story also made me think of the John Morley quote, "You have not converted a man because you have silenced him." Forced conversions indeed. What a strange and ugly concept. Human beings sure labor under odd and destructive notions a lot, no matter how many centuries (with their hard-earned lessons) go by!

I must say, I love Dona Gracia's taste in Dishes! :-)

Thank you for an edifying and impressive "D" post!

Rambling Round said...

Quite an interesting story!

Marie said...

I enjoyed reading this very much! Dona Garcia and her family went through so much. It was wonderful that she was able to be prosperous so she could help others in the same situation!

The platters are gorgeous!

joanne said...

An extremely interesting post, with wonderful pics

Vagabonde said...

That is a very interesting and informative post. I love the pictures of the pottery – they are very beautiful. I noticed that this lady was converted by force in the 1500s, but you know, much later in Turkey around 1915, if some Armenians renounced their Christian Orthodox faith and became Muslim then they could stay in Turkey during the Genocide. Religions have brought much pain to many.

zongrik said...

women with leadership abilities have always been so stifled

dark night red light

Sara said...

She was obviously a remarkable woman...and especially in those days to achieve what she did.

Kay said...

Wow! What an interesting, amazing lady. Thank you for this glimpse into a part of history I didn't know about. I love the photos.