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About the Book

About Dona Gracia of the House of Nasi

Jewish history is rich in remarkable personalities. Among the most admirable of them is Dona Gracia of the House of Nasi, an extraordinary woman in every aspect. Banker, diplomat, philanthropist, defender of her people and promoter of its culture, she was revered by her sixteenth-century contemporaries and earned the highest esteem among Jewish historians in succeeding generations. The fact that she wielded enormous influence so many centuries before the so-called emancipation of women is in itself a tribute to her strength and nobility of character.

The noted historian Cecil Roth here presents the first full-length biography of Dona Gracia in the English language. He traces her career from its beginning among the Marranos (secret Jews) of Portugal and from her rise to financial power in Antwerp, through her wanderings to escape the Inquisition and return to the faith of her fathers, down to her declining years as the Crowned Lady, the dominant personality in Jewish affairs in the Turkish Empire. Dr. Roth recounts this poignant story of human devotion to a great cause. He also tells the story of the intense struggle which the Marranos waged for freedom of conscience. It is a great human drama, centering about a fascinating character, with all of Europe as its stage and with the highest representatives of sixteenth-century diplomacy as its dramatis personae.

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