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C. 1570 - 1635 ABRAHAM COHEN (ALONSO NUNEZ) DE HERRERA (Portugal- Vienna?)

Philosopher and kabbalist. Herrera was purportedly captured by the English, and freed in a diplomatic exchange between the Sultan of Morocco Ahmad al-Mansur, and Queen Elizabeth I. Once freed he fled to Amsterdam, where he returned to openly practice Judaism. Herrera wrote Sefer Sha'ar ha-shamayim (The Gate of Heaven/ Puerta Del Cielo), a discourse on Kabbalah while in Cadiz on business for the Sultan. It is the first Hebrew work to mention Brazil. Isaac Aboab de Fonseca (1605 –1693), the first practicing rabbi in the New World, translated the work from Spanish to Hebrew.

1570 - 1634 JACOB BASSEVI OF TREUENBERG (Verona- Prague)

Court Jew and financier. He and his brother Samuel were instrumental in buying 34 houses and expanding the Jewish quarter of Prague. Bassevi intervened time and again, to help the Jewish communities in Bohemia and Italy He raised the money ( mostly his own), to fund the release of Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller in 1629. After the death of Charles of Liechtenstein, he lost favor and was forced to flee Prague. His property was confiscated by the Emperor Ferdinand II (1578-1637). rn


Was created, becoming the first set up in the new world. It was disbanded only in 1820. Thirty four trials were held during that period resulting in the conviction of 131 Jews, twenty –four of which were burned alive(see 1639). In spite of this conversos continued to arrive.

1570 July 31, (Av ) FLORENCE (Italy)

Duke Cosimo I the Duke of Florence in an effort ( successful) to have Pope Pius V to crown him Grand Duke of Tuscany forced all the Jews of his principality into a ghetto in Florence. This despite that until a few years earlier his rule was considered one of the most liberal in Italy. The following year (December 1571) he did the same to the Jews of the Siena district. At that time roughly 60% of the Jewish community (approx 24,000) had lived in small towns and cities.rnrn


After the Inquisition was convened that year, it was no longer possible for Jews to live in the Low Countries.


At the order of King Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572), Solomon Ephraim Luntschitz (author of the Klei Yakar) was appointed chief rabbi of Lemberg (Lvov) and Galicia. Luntschitz was given wide authority to open schools and yeshivot, which directly led to the spread of yeshivot and the raising of Jewish education in Poland (see 1550). He was later (1604) appointed the Rabbi of Prague.

1571 October 18, MEXICO

An Inquisition was set up that remained in force until the end of the eighteenth century. During that period, 1,500 persons were convicted of being judaizantes (someone who practices Judaism). Aproximately 200 were either burned at the stake or died before being convicted. A similar number were sentenced to jail terms.


The Jagello Dynasty ended. Poland was weakened and the king became a figurehead, while the nobles and landowners ruled the country.

1574 SELIM II DIED (Ottoman Empire)

The Ottoman Empire began to decay and the situation of its Jews deteriorated.

1574 February 28, MEXICO

The first official Auto da Fe in the New World was held after the establishment of the Inquisition 5 years earlier. The first unofficial Auto da Fe was actually held in 1528 when the conquistador, Hernando Alonso, was executed.

1574 May 6, KING HENRY VALOIS (Poland)

Granted Jewish privileges. He was the Son of Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici. A year earlier with his mother's influence, he became king of Poland after the death of Sigismund II. In his war against Russia, he was helped by Salomon Ashkenazi a Jewish Turkish diplomat. Upon the death of his brother Charles IX (that same year), he returned to France to become Henry III.rnrn


Published his Me'or Einayim (Enlightenment to the Eyes). Written after surviving a strong earthquake in Ferrara, it was the first Jewish historical work to base itself on secular as well as Jewish sources, quoting over 100 secular authorities. De Rossi examined talmudic legends with a critical eye and believed that they were not written necessarily as an absolute historical truth. He delved deeply into the chronology of events, comparing Jewish and secular sources. Needless to say his book was controversial. It was severely criticized by Joseph Caro and Judah Loew b. Bezalel of Prague, among others, who believed in the unqualified truth of the talmudic legends. This led to a banning of the book which lasted more then 100 years.


Finished his major work Reshit Chochmah (The Beginning of Knowledge). De Vidas was a student of Moses Cordovero (see 1522) in Safed. His Reshit Chochmah synthesized ethical and moral teaching with Kabbalah. Written in an easy and understandable style, it became very popular.

1575 January 8, AUTO DA FE AT SEVILLE (Spain)

Many Conversos were among the victims of this Auto da Fe.

1576 - 1586 REIGN OF STEPHAN BATORY (Poland)

The Transylvanian Duke became King after marrying Anna Jagiellon the new queen of Poland. During his reign he forbade any charges of ritual murder against the Jews denouncing them as calumniae. In addition he protected what he believed to be the legitimate rights of the Jews. With his death and the strengthening of Jesuit influence the position of Polish Jews became precarious.

1577 September 1, POPE GREGORY XIII (Italy)

Pope Gregory XIII, issued the Bull Vices ejus nos “ He Turns Us”, reconfirming the Bull of Pope Nicholas III (1278),which decreed that one hundred and fifty Jews must hear conversion sermons in Rome every week. He reissued a similar Bull a few years later in 1584. A college for neophytes was set up with instruction in Hebrew and even Arabic.

1578 - 1648 (27 Av 5408) JOSHUA HESHEL BEN JOSEPH (Cracow, Poland)

Rabbi and halachist. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he believed that halacha should be determined by facts and that one could arrive at a different ruling than the Shulchan Aruch. His works include the Megeinei Shlomo on the Talmud and the Pnai Yehoshua on the Shulchan Aruch.


Due to the difficulty of importing Jewish books from abroad and the major censorship of the Talmud by pope Pius IV, King Batory granted Kalonymus Ben Mordecai Jaffe the right of printing Jewish books in Lublin. This lead to greater competition between the polish printing houses and those of Venice and Prague.

1578 August 4, MOROCCAN PURIM (Purim de Los Christianos)

Jews faced near disaster when the opposition led by King Sebastian of Portugal nearly succeeded in conquering the country. The date of the Portuguese defeat at al-Qasr al-Kabir became a day of celebration and thanksgiving for the Jewish community of Morocco.

1578 September 4, POPE GREGORY XIII

Ordered the Jews of Rome to contribute 1,100 gold scudi (Approximately $13,750) toward the maintenance of the Casa dei Catecumeni (Home for Converts to Christianity). One scudo was roughly $125 in today�s terms.rn

1579 - 1647 (1 Adar 5407) AZARIAH FIGO (PICHO) (Italy)

Scholar and Preacher. Figo served in the community of Venice, where he fought against the secular trend of the Italian renaissance. His Binah le-Ittim is a collection of his sermons for the holidays and fast days, which was published over 50 times. His talmudic commentary Gidulei Terumah was composed after the banning of the Talmud when it was difficult to come by copies of the Talmud.

1579 UNION OF UTRECHT (Protestant) (Holland)

Formed as a loose confederation in the Northern Netherlands (Holland). Its purpose was to counteract the League of Arras formed by the Spanish Catholics in the Low Countries (i.e. Belgium). This marked the beginning of an enlightened atmosphere regarding the Jews in the Netherlands.

1579 - 1654 (6 Elul 5414) YOM TOV LIPMANN HELLER (Wallerstein-Cracow, Poland)

Scholar and historian. He served as the rabbi of many communities including Nikolburg, Vienna and Prague. Heller was very active in community affairs, and because of this was once denounced as an author of anti-Christian writings. Although the charges were baseless (he had written about idolaters during the time of the Temple), he was forced to move. He is best known for his commentary on the Mishna called Tosaphot Yom Tov (Supplements of Yom Tov). He later became Rabbi of Cracow.

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