Dona Gracia Thesis

1018 Words5 Pages
Dona Gracia Nasi was born in 1510. It has been suggested that her family was among the Jews of Spain who fled Spain during the Inquisition to Portugal but were then forced to convert and were baptized in 1497. Dona Gracia, born Beatrice De Luna, went on to become one of the most known pre-modern advocates for Jewish freedom as well as known for her fight against adversity and devotion to Jewish life.
Throughout the book, ‘The House of Nasi: Dona Gracia’ by Cecil Roth, we follow then Beatrice through her journey of marriage to and death of her husband Francisco Mendes, acquiring half of her husband large fortune and company, numerous embargos against her families estate and assets, while still trying to advocate for Jews fleeing forced conversion
…show more content…
I’ve been called intimidating, an over-achiever, a feminist, etc. When I read this book about Dona Gracia it made me feel slightly better about myself. It made me reminded that a woman can be an overachiever; a woman can be “intimidating” which simply means that they are strong; a woman can fight for their rights and be the boss. I think this whole book was something significant that impressed me and is important. This woman was born into a time where women were not at all equal with men. But Dona Gracia was lucky to have a husband who recognized her intelligence and resourcefulness and trusted he with his company after he passed away. Probably the moment I was most proud of Dona Nasi is when it explained her amazing efforts to help aid converos fleeing Portugal and Spain who wanted to come settle in Italy or the Ottoman Empire. She helped finance and organize the conversos transportation and the supplies they needed on their voyage. Im aware that she used connections to help her do this and didn’t personally travel with the conversos but without being the woman she was and had the reputation she did she probably wouldn’t have had the connections she did to help them at all. Having connections in Portugal, Spain and most of northern Europe not only helped in the movement of the conversos but helped know that information she needed to transport them, get the documents they needed while traveling and gave her a way to have money readily available in case of emergency. The work that Dona Gracia, along with her brother-in-law Diogo Mendes, carried out was in fact historical. “There is nothing similar in Jewish history, or perhaps in any history, until our own day and the organization of the “underground railway” for saving Jews from the hell of Nazi and post-Nazi Europe and securing their entry to the Land of Israel.” (Roth, 31) And to think
Open Document