A Man of Three Worlds: Samuel Pallache, a Moroccan Jew in Catholic and Protestant Europeby Mercedes García-Arenal
In the late fifteenth century, many of the Jews expelled from Spain made their way to Morocco and established a dynamic community in Fez. A number of Jewish families became prominent in commerce and public life there. Among the Jews of Fez of Hispanic origin was Samuel Pallache, who served the Moroccan sultan as a commercial and diplomatic agent in Holland until
In the late fifteenth century, many of the Jews expelled from Spain made their way to Morocco and established a dynamic community in Fez. A number of Jewish families became prominent in commerce and public life there. Among the Jews of Fez of Hispanic origin was Samuel Pallache, who served the Moroccan sultan as a commercial and diplomatic agent in Holland until Pallache's death in 1616. Before that, he had tried to return with his family to Spain, and to this end he tried to convert to Catholicism and worked as an informer, intermediary, and spy in Moroccan affairs for the Spanish court. Later he became a privateer against Spanish ships and was tried in London for that reason. His religious identity proved to be as mutable as his political allegiances: when in Amsterdam, he was devoutly Jewish; when in Spain, a loyal converso (a baptized Jew).
In A Man of Three Worlds, Mercedes García-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers view Samuel Pallache's world as a microcosm of early modern society, one far more interconnected, cosmopolitan, and fluid than is often portrayed. Pallache's missions and misadventures took him from Islamic Fez and Catholic Spain to Protestant England and Holland. Through these travels, the authors explore the workings of the Moroccan sultanate and the Spanish court, the Jewish communities of Fez and Amsterdam, and details of the Atlantic-Mediterranean trade. At once a sweeping view of two continents, three faiths, and five nation-states and an intimate story of one man's remarkable life, A Man of Three Worlds is history at its most compelling.
Well referenced, with many vignettes that help to paint for the reader a vivid picture of the times.
- Johns Hopkins University Press
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What People are Saying About This
Using a micro-historical approach, Mercedes García-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers reconstruct the complicated life of Samuel Pallache, a 'stateless' Jew of Sephardic origin who used his considerable linguistic talents to become an international arms-dealer, double-agent, merchant, smuggler and spy as he moved regularly between Morocco, Spain, Portugal, England and the Low Countries. Examining both Pallache and his family, Garcia-Arenal and Wiegers address a number of important scholarly issues relating to the role of Sephardic Jews in the early modern Mediterranean world. This is a fascinating book, and the material, much of it drawn from archives in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, including those of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, is new, fresh, and definitely worth reading.
Richard L. Kagan, The Johns Hopkins University
Meet the Author
Mercedes García-Arenal is a research professor at the Higher Council of Scientific Research in Madrid. Gerard Wiegers is a professor of comparative religion and Islamic studies in the Department of Comparative Religious Studies at the University of Nijmegen. Translator Martin Beagles teaches in the Department of Modern Languages at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
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