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Menasseh Ben Israel’s Apology For The Jews.

(Continued from issue #4.)

How Profitable the Nation of the Iewes Are.

In this estate some of the Iewes have grown to great fortunes; as Joseph Nasino, unto whom Amatus Lusitanus dedicated his fifth and sixth Centuriae, was by Sultan Solime made Duke of Maccia, Earle of Andro, Seignor of Millo, and the seaven Islands: And Jacob Ben-Iaes by Sultan Amurat, was made Governour of the Tiberiades: so likewise others were exalted to very great and Eminent Dignities: as was that Selomo Rose, that was sent for Ambassador at Venice, where he confirmed the last Peace with Amurat. In Germany, there lives also a great multitude of Iews, especially at Prague, Vienna and Franckfurt, very much favoured by the most mild and most gracious Emperours, but despised of the people, being a Nation not very finely garnished by reason of their vile cloathing: yet notwithstanding there is not wanting amongst them persons of great quality. The Emperour Matthias made Noble both Mardochai Mairel, and Ferdinando Jacob Bar Seba.

But yet a greater number of Iews are found in the Kingdome of Poland, Prussia and Lethuania, under which Monarchy they have the Jurisdiction to judge amongst themselves all causes, both Criminal and Civil; and also great and famous Academies of their own. The chief Cities where the Nation liveth, are Lublin and Cracow, where there is a Iew, called Isaac Iecells, who built a Synagogue, which stood him in one hundred thousand Francs, and is worth many tons of gold. There is in this place such infinite number of Iews; that although the Cosaques in the late warres have killed of them above one hundred and fourescore thousand; yet it is sustained that they are yet at this day as innumerable as those were that came out of Egypt. In that Kingdome the whole Negotiation is in the hand of the Iews, the rest of the Christians are either all Noble-men, or Rustiques and kept as slaves.

In Italy they are generally protected by all the Princes: their principall residence is in the most famous City of Venice; so that in that same City alone they possesse about 1400 Houses; and are used there with much courtesy and clemency. Many also live in Padoa and Verona; others in Mantua, and also many in Rome itself. Finally they are scattered here and there in the chief places of Italy, and do live there with many speciall priviledges.

In the Government of the great Duke of Tuscany, they are by that Prince most graciously and bountifully dealt with, having power from him graunted, to have their Judicatory by themselves, and to judge in all matters, both Civill and Criminall; besides many other Priviledges, whereof I my self have the Copies in hand. The rich and illustrious families that flourished in these Countries are many, viz. The Thoraces, who being three Brethren, shared betwixt them above 700 thousand Crowns. In Ferrara were the Viles, whose stock was above 200 thousand Crowns. The Lord Joseph de Fano, Marquis de Villependi, was a man much respected of all the Princes in Italy, and was called by them, The Peace-maker and appeaser of all troubles; because he, by his authority and entremise, was used to appease all troubles and strife rising amongst them. Don Daniel Rodrigues, because of his prudency and other good qualities, was sent in the year 1589 from the most Excellent Senat of Venice into Dalmatia, to appease those tumults and scandals given by the Vsquoquibs in Cliffa: which he most manly effected, and caused all the women and children, that were kept cloose prisoners, to be set at liberty, brought also to an happy issue many other things of great moment, for which he was sent. Alphonso II. the Duke of Ferrara, sent also for his Ambassador to the Imperiall Majesty, one Abraham de Bondi, to pay and discharge Investiture of the States of Modena and Reggio. The Prince of Safol and the Marquis of Scandia likewise, had to their Factors men of our Nation.

In the Kingdome of Barbary, their lives also a great number of Iews, who-ever cruelly and basely used by that Barbarous Nation, except at Marrocco, the Court and Kings house, where they have their Naguid or Prince that governs them, and is their Iudge, and is called at this day, Seignor Moseh Palace: and before him was in the same Court, that Noble family Ruthes, that had power and Iurisdiction of all kinde of punishment, onely life and death excepted.

In the Low-Countries also, the Iews are received with great Charity and Benevolency, and especially in this most renowned City of Amsterdam, where there are no lesse then 400 Families; and how great a trading and Negotiation they draw to that City, experience doth sufficiently witness. They have there no lesse then three hundred houses of their own, enjoy a good part of the West and East-Indian Compagnies; and besides have yet to set forth their Trafiq such a stock, that for setting a side, onely one duit of every pound Flemish for all kind of commodities that enter, and again as much for all what goes out of this town, and what besides we pay yearly of the rents we get from the East-Indian Compagnie to the reliefe and sustenance of the poore of our Synagogue, that very money amounts ordinarily every year, unto the summe very neare of 12000 Franks; whereby you may easely conceive what a mighty stock it is they trade with, and what a profit they needs must bring into this City.

In Hambourg likewise, a most famous City of Holsace in Germany, there lives also a hundred families, protected by the Magistrat, though molested by the people. There resides Sir Duarte Nunes d’Acosta, Resident for his Majesty the King of Portugal: Gabriel Gomes, Agent for his Majesty the king of Danemarck: David de Lima, a Ieweller, for the same his Majesty; and Emanuel Boccaro Rosales, created by the Emperour a Noble-man and a Count Palatin.

In all these places the Iews live (in a manner) all of them Merchants, and that without any prejudice at all to the Natives: For the Natives, and those especially that are most rich, they build themselves houses and Palaces, buy Lands and firme goods, aime at Titles and Dignities, and so seek their rest and contentment that way. But as for the Iews, they aspire at nothing, but to preferre themselves in their way of Marchandize; and so employing their Capitals, they send forth the benefit of their labour amongst many and sundry of the Natives, which they, by the trafick of their Negotiation, do enrich. From whence it’s easy to judge of the profit that Princes and Common-wealths do reap, by giving liberty of Religion to the Iews, and gathering them by some speciall priviledges into their Countries: as Trees that bring forth such excellent fruits.

So that if one Prince, ill advised, driveth them out of his Land yet another invites them to his; & shews them favour: Wherein we may see the prophecy of lacob fulfilled in the letter: The staffe (to support him) shall not depart from Judah, untill Messias shall come. And this shall suffice concerning the Profit of the Jewish Nation.

How Faithfull the Nation of the Iewes Are.

The Fidelity of Vassals and Subjects, is a thing that Princes most esteem off: for there-on, both in Peace and Warre, depends the preservation of their estates. And as for this point, in my opinion, they owe much to the Nation of the Iews, by reason of the faithfulnesse and loyalty they show to all Potentates that receive and protect them in their Countries. For setting aside the Histories of the Ptolomies, Kings of Egypt, who did not trust the Guard of their persons, nor the keeping of their Forts, nor the most important afairs of their Kingdome to any other Nation with greater satisfaction then to the Iews; the Wounds of Antipater shewed to Iulius Caesar in token of his loyalty, and the brasen Tables of our Ancestours amongst the Romans, are evident witnesses enough of their fidelity shewed unto them.

In Spaine the Jews of Burgos; as the Chronicles do declare, most generously shewed the very same fidelity in the times of Don Henrique; who having killed his Brother, the King, Don Pedro de Cruel, made himself Lord of all his Kingdomes, and brought under his obedience all the Grandees and people of Spaine: Only the Iews of Burgos denyed to obey him, and fortified themselves within the City, saying, That God would never have it, that they should deny obedience to their Naturall Lord Don Pedro, or to his rightfull successours. A constancy that the prudent King, Don Henriques, very much esteemed of, saying, that such Vassals as those were, by Kings and great men, worthy of much account, seeing they held greater respect to the fidelity they ought to their King, although conquered and dead, than to the Present fortune of the Conqueror: And a while after, receiving very honourable conditions, they gave themselves over.

In Spain also (as you may see in Mariana) many Iewes for the same fidelity were appointed Governours of the Kingdome, and Tutors of Noble-mens children, jointly to others of the Nobility upon the death of their Parents.

The Chronicles of the Xarifes, dedicated to King Philip the second, King of Spaine, alleagues for an example of great fidelity and vertue, how the rising of the Xarifes against the Morines, their killing and spoyling them of the Kingdome, was such a great grief unto Samuel Alvalensi, one of those banished out of Spaine, and much favoured by the King of Fez, descended from the house of the Morines; that joyning himself with other Magistrates, and subjects of the Morines, arming some ships and going himself Captain over all, he came suddenly with 400. men, and fell by night upon the Army of the Xarifes, that were more then 3000 men, besieging Copta, and without losing one man, killed of them above 500 and caused there to raise the siege.