Iberian Conversos as Agents, Victims and Thinkers of Empire: Duarte Gomes Solis and His Milieu
Departing from Jonathan Israel's explanation of Conversos' role as leading international entrepreneurs for being "simultaneously victims and agents of Empire," Stuczynski will argue that from this ambivalent position, some Conversos became idiosyncratic thinkers of Iberian empires. In this lecture, he will focus on Lisbon Converso Indian spice traders who, by the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries, sought to be recognized as fundamental promoters of Portuguese imperialism. These dynamic merchants were Catholic believers of Jewish descent who were unjustly treated as debased members of the "Hebrew Nation." He will revisit the writings of the Portuguese Converso merchant and "arbitrista" Duarte Nunes Solis, as part of common views held by his Converso specific milieu or sub-group, which were also expressed during the visit of King Philip III to Lisbon in 1619. Ultimately, he will present a more variegated and complex way to view both Portuguese imperialism and the Converso phenomenon.
Claude (Dov) B. Stuczynski is an assistant professor at the Department of General History at Bar-Ilan University. His two main fields of research explore the Converso phenomenon—mainly in Portugal—and early modern encounters between Europeans and non-Europeans—mainly Amerindians. He is interested in the relationship between religion and politics in medieval and early modern periods. Last year, he taught at the Department of History at Tel-Aviv University and is a current board member of the Center for the Study of Conversions within Abrahamic Religions at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva.
Stuczynski is the author of The New Christians in Portugal in the 20th Century (Hebrew) and Between Religion and Religiosity: Converso Judaizers of Braganca and the Inquisition of Coimbra in the 16th century (French). His forthcoming books are In Defense of the Nation: Portuguese Converso Apologetics in the 17th century, and Conquistadores' Consciousness, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas and his Defense of the Amerindians.
Sponsored by: The Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies