A Jewish Woman Leader of the Renaissance

in European Judaism
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  • 1 Yale University
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One wintry day early in 1535, merchant banker Francisco Mendes Benveniste – the George Soros of his day – lay dying in his whitewashed, tile-roofed home near the Royal Palace in Lisbon. It was a pivotal moment for his elegant wife Beatrice, later known as Doña Gracia Nasi, and for their infant daughter, Anna. Not only were they losing a husband and father. The death of Francisco had larger implications that Doña Gracia, still in her twenties, feared almost more than widowhood.