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Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Dona Gracia Nasi [NOOK Book]

Overview

In an assiduously researched biography of a 16th-century Jewish woman who managed a powerful business empire, Brooks, an associate fellow at Yale, has illuminated a mostly forgotten corner of history. Famed during her lifetime both in the Sephardic Jewish community for her unstinting philanthropy and in the wider world of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, where she fled to escape the Inquisition, Beatrice de Luna Mendes, better known as Doña Gracia Nasi (1510-1569), was a woman of formidable business acumen, personal ...
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Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Dona Gracia Nasi

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Overview

In an assiduously researched biography of a 16th-century Jewish woman who managed a powerful business empire, Brooks, an associate fellow at Yale, has illuminated a mostly forgotten corner of history. Famed during her lifetime both in the Sephardic Jewish community for her unstinting philanthropy and in the wider world of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, where she fled to escape the Inquisition, Beatrice de Luna Mendes, better known as Doña Gracia Nasi (1510-1569), was a woman of formidable business acumen, personal courage, outstanding altruism and devotion to the Jewish religion, which, as a Catholic converso, she practiced in secret. Widowed early, Doña Gracia managed both the complex financial affairs of her late husband's merchant empire and its secret activities. The latter included huge bribes to the Church and (never repaid) loans to several monarchs, as well as an underground escape route that rescued thousands of conversos from the Inquisition's fury in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Despite their financial power, the Mendes family were forced by the Inquisition into quick moves and narrow escapes from Lisbon to Antwerp to Venice and Ferrara, back to Venice and then to Constantinople.



Brooks's research, which involved previously unavailable documents in 13 languages and seven countries, effectively details 16th-century social, religious and economic conditions, especially as they affected the Jewish community. Her overeager attempt to lionize her subject, however, sometimes results in fulsome, even strident prose. Yet even if Doña Gracia is not a feminist heroine, as Brooks suggests, this saga of her life and times is a significant contribution to Jewish history during the Renaissance.
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Editorial Reviews

Fayne Erickson
An excellent read! The story of Doña Garcia is riveting. She would be a hero in any age and a role model for women today
Ivan Marcus
This fast-paced biography of Dona Gracia Nasi, an extraordinary sixteenth-century Renaissance Jewish Woman of Valor, international banker, diplomat, and mover and shaker, is beautifully written and based on newly retrieved archival sources. Her life and career are set in a kaleidoscopic tale of five cities—Lisbon, Antwerp, Venice, Ferrara, and Constantinople. This is an important and vividly realized new contribution to early modern Jewish history.
Publishers Weekly
In an assiduously researched biography of a 16th-century Jewish woman who managed a powerful business empire, Brooks, an associate fellow at Yale, has illuminated a mostly forgotten corner of history. Famed during her lifetime both in the Sephardic Jewish community for her unstinting philanthropy and in the wider world of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, where she fled to escape the Inquisition, Beatrice de Luna Mendes, better known as Doña Gracia Nasi (1510-1569), was a woman of formidable bus
Hadassah Magazine
The author, a New York Times writer who based her book on original, unpublished sixteenth-century documents and worked with scholars who translated papers in 13 different languages in seven countries, knows how to tell a story. She delicately interweaves Doña Gracia's personal chronicle with the history of the places where she lived or had influence: Portugal, England, Belgium, Italy, Tiberias and Constantinople.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013424418
  • Publisher: Paragon House Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/21/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 706,027
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

ANDRÉE AELION BROOKS is a journalist, author and lecturer specializing in Jewish history topics. For nearly two decades she was a contributing columnist and news writer for the New York Times. She wrote the award-winning book Children of Fast Track Parents. She founded the Women's Campaign School at Yale University, where she is an Associate Fellow, and served as the director/editor of an important teaching series for 5-7th graders in Sephardic Jewish history and culture called "Out of Spain."

Over forty years of published work including: more than 2,000 articles in the New York Times during an eighteen year span; countless pieces in other newspapers and magazines including The New York Times Magazine, European Judaism (academic journal), Equity (Worth), McCalls, Glamour, Reform Judaism, Hadassah Magazine, Historic Preservation, among many others.
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