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Tyrants Writing Poetry, edited by Konstantin Kaminskij and Albrecht Koschorke
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Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 15th-18th Centuries by Lech Mróz received honorable mention for the Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies.

 





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The Long Journey of Gracia Mendes

Marianna D. Birnbaum, Professor emeritus of University of California, Los Angeles; visiting professor of Central European University

The historical biography of a true Jewish heroine in her day, Gracia Mendes. Born in 1510 in Portugal, the book details this woman's extraordinary personality until her death in 1569 in Constantinople (today's Istanbul). Her life exemplified a perseverance by the Jewish culture to survive and triumph even in the worst of conditions.

As a young girl, Gracia secretly married successful Jewish spice trader, Francisco Mendes. But at age 27 she became a widow, yet she went on to raise her children and run the family business all on her own.

Her travels led her through Antwerp, Venice, Ferrara, Ragusa, and finally to Constantinople, from where the Ottoman Empire dominated former Byzantium territories and offered shelter for battered Conversos (converted Jews).

The text recounting the last fifteen years of Gracia's life at the center of the Empire is particularly revealing. Birnbaum's biography has the unique distinction of being the first among many studies to pay tribute to a woman during this period. It is also one of the first titles to pay equal attention to the lives of the Conversos in Christian West Europe and in the Muslim East.

Contents

Acknowledgments; Chapter 1. Introducing the Family; Chapter 2. A Short History of the Conversos: Inquisition in Spain and Portugal; New Attitudes Toward Conversos; The Special Status of the Rich; Changing Places - Changing Names; Chapter 3. Life in Sixteenth-Century Antwerp: Converso Life in Lisbon and Antwerp; The Family Business; Pepper and the Mendes Wealth; The Move to Antwerp; Gracia's Official Entry into the Family Business; Diogo is Accused of Judaizing; The Emperor's Blackmail; The Emperor's Matchmaking; Chapter 4. Gracia in Venice: Conditions in Ferrara and Mantua; A Sisters' Quarrel; The Alleged Kidnapping; Inquisition by Proxy; Costa's Defense; Brianda Before the Inquisition; Chapter 5. Gracia and Jewish Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara: The Ferrara Bible; Meeting an Old Friend; The Medal Controversy; The Growing Intolerance in Ferrara; Chapter 6. In Business with Ragusa: Jews in Ragusa; The Ragusan Deal; Chapter 7. The Ottoman Empire and the Jews: The Legal Status of the Jews; Social life and Customs; The Western View of Levantine Jews; Gracia's Arrival in the Ottoman Empire; Who is a Jew?; The Mendes-Nasi Enterprise; The Crises in Ancona and Pesaro; Leading the Boycott Against Ancona; New Faces in Constantinople; Gracia and the Resettling of Safed; Jewish Patronage in the Ottoman Empire; The Decline of the House of Mendes-Nasi; Appendices: Money, Prices, Values; From Dubrovnik to Constantinople; List of Illustrations; Bibliography; Indeces

2003
150 pages, 4 color and 11 black and white illustrations and maps
978-963-9241-67-1 cloth $43.95 / €36.95 / £ 30.00
978-963-9241-78-7 paperback $24.95 / €22.95 / £18.99

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