1520 - 1592 BEZALEL BEN ABRAHAM ASHKENAZI (Eretz Israel)
Talmudist and Jewish leader. As Rabbi of Jerusalem he succeeded in renewing life there, raising money abroad and encouraging immigration to Eretz Israel. He is especially remembered for his collecting of old manuscripts of the Chidushim (Novella) of the Geonim (6th-10th c.) and Rishonim (10th to mid 15th c.) on the Talmud. His indispensable compendium, known today as the Shitah Mekubbezet, has preserved much of these commentaries and is used by most students of Talmud to this day.
C. 1520 COUNCIL OF THE (FOUR) LANDS (Vaad/ Kahal) (Poland)
Was set up in Poland, with a separate council established in Lithuania. Its official objective was to help collect Jewish taxes for the government. In reality it had the status of a court and oversaw much of Jewish life. It also tried to serve as the representative of the Jewish communities and ensure that all rights and privileges were kept. Very few Jews had any say as to who was elected to serve in the councils, a point which led to much friction. The "Council of the Four Lands" generally consisted of: the provinces of Great Poland (capital: Poznan) and Little (Lesser) Poland (capital: Cracow); "the Lvov Land"; and the province of Volhynia. At times the council may have only included 3 "lands", and at its zenith it included 18 units. The council was abolished by the Polish Sejm in 1764.
1520 HILDESHEIM (Germany)
After over 60 years of no Jews being allowed to live there, a residence permit was granted to Grosse Michel, known as "Jud Michel". According to legend, he was the illegitimate son of one of the dukes of Regenstein. Michel was a wealthy financier who lived in a high life style and was protected by Joachim II, elector of Brandenburg. When one of the dukes of Regenstein reneged on a loan, he threatened, then burned down his fields. Numerous accusations were brought against him and his wife over the years, including poisoning wells. He died in 1549 from falling down a flight of stairs in peculiar circumstances.
C. 1520 - 1603 SOLOMON ABENAES (Even Yaish) (Portugal-Ottoman Empire-Turkey)
Born into a converso family under the name Alvaro Mendes, he acquired his wealth though diamond mining. He reverted to Judaism upon reaching Turkey in 1580. He served the Turkish court in many functions, including finance and foreign affairs. Abenaes was a strong proponent of a Anglo-Turkish alliance against Spain and used his spy network to bring the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. He received renewal of the grants of Don Joseph Nasi in Eretz Israel and was a strong supporter of Jewish life there.
1520 - 1579 (7 Av 5339) DON JOSEPH NASI (Joao Migues, Duke of Naxos) (Portugal-Ottoman Empire[Turkey])
Nephew and son-in-law to Donna Gracia (Beatrice de Lune). After fleeing Portugal, this rich merchant, adventurer and friend of Maximillian re-established himself in Turkey. Once there, both he and Donna Gracia did much to help the fleeing Marranos. As a high member of the Turkish Court, he planned a resettlement of Tiberias. In 1561, the sultan confirmed Donna Gracia's concession and the walls were rebuilt in 1564. He sent out invitations to various communities in Italy but it is not known if any major immigration took place. Unfortunately, he became involved in other political affairs, and fell from favor during the war against Venice.
C. 1520 - 1572 (18 Iyar 5332 Lag BaOmer) MOSES ISSERLES (The Rama) (Poland)
The son-in-law of Shalom Shakna. He served as Rosh Ha (Head of the) Yeshiva in Cracow. His main work was the adaptation of Caro's Shulchan Aruch to European Jewry, called Mappah Hashulchan (The Tablecloth). An earlier work, Darke Moshe Hakatzar (The Ways of Moses Abridged) was written on the Tur (see 1270). He was also known for the almost 100 responsa he published. Isserles tried to strengthen the stature of many customs, elevating them almost to the level of commandments. On the other hand, he was very lenient when it came to cases of stress or financial loss.
1522 GERSHOM BEN SOLOMON KOHEN (d. 1544) (Bohemia)
Produced a beautiful Hagaddah which contained over 60 wood cuts. Kohen was the founder of the first family of Hebrew printers in central Europe in Prague. He also published various prayer books including a machzor and Pentateuch.
1522 - 1570 (22 Tamuz 5330) MOSES CORDOVERO (Ramak) (Safed, Eretz Israel)
Rabbi, philosopher and early Kabbalist. Cordovero was a student of Joseph Caro and a teacher of Isaac Luria. His classic Pardes Rimonim (Orchard of pomegranates) which he completed when he was just 27, developed for the first time a Kabalistic system. Among his other works are Elimah Rabati, also on kabalistic systems, Tefilah L'moshe on Prayers, and Tomer Devorah (Date palm of Deborah) which developed Kabalistic ethical literature.
1522 GIL GONZALEZ DE AVILA (Central America)
A "New Christian", became governor after defeating a local tribe headed by an Indian Chief named Nicarao.
1523 CRANGANORE (Malabar Coast, India)
The Portuguese conquered the city, resulting in the destruction of its Jewish community. Most refugees fled to the city of Cochin.
1523 ELIJAH CAPSALI (c. 1483-1555) (Crete)
Published Seder Eliyahu Zuta. Capsali was a rabbi and historian and his book deals with the history of the Ottoman Empire, focusing on the persecutions and expulsions from Spain and Portugal. It is a primary resource of that time period.
1523 - 1533 POPE CLEMENT VII
Another Medici Pope who continued and expanded the policies of Leo X regarding the Jews.
Only allowed immigration to those who could prove four generations of Catholic ancestry. In spite of this, many Marranos succeed in purchasing "Purity of Blood" (limpieza de sangre) certificates.
1523 June 3, VENICE (Italy)
After four years of effort the final tractate of the entire Babylonian Talmud was printed by Bomberg.
1524 DAVID REUVENI (Italy-Portugal)
Arrived in Rome claiming to be a representative of the Ten Lost Tribes and requesting assistance from Clement VII to fight the Turks. Though he was burned at an Auto da Fe in Portugal in 1552, his effect on his fellow Jews was to raise their self-esteem, knowing that somewhere there existed a strong and independent part of Israel.
1524 February 24, (27 Adar 5284) PURIM CAIRO (Egypt)
Celebration of the deliverance from the self-proclaimed Sultan Ahmed Shaitan. The Sultan, upset with being rejected as Grand Vizier, ordered his Jewish coinager, Abraham de Castro, to print his likeness and title of Grand Vizier on coins. When De Castro fled, the Sultan got his revenge by ordering the Jewish community to choose between paying a massive fine or being killed. On the last day before the Sultan's edict would have been enforced, he was assassinated by one of his viziers.
C. 1525 - 1609 (18 Elul 5369) JUDAH LOEW BEN BEZALEL (Maharal of Prague) (Bohemia)
Brilliant Talmudist, mathematician and astronomer. He was respected and admired by Emperor Randolph II. A famous legend arose that he made a man of clay and gave him life by putting God's name into him. The story became widely known, giving birth to novels, plays and operatic works. This being, known as the Golem, was said to have served the community until disabled by his master.
1525 - C. 1590 Leone de' Sommi ( Italy)
Italian playwright. He wrote the first discourse on the art of stage direction. While almost all of his plays were written for the non Jewish audience, it is believed that he is also the author of the only known Hebrew comedy prior to the 18th century Tzachut bedichuta d'kidushin (A Comedy of Betrothal). Unfortunately almost all of his plays were destroyed in a fire.rn
1525 - 1594 RODRIGO LOPEZ (Portugal-England)
A Marrano physician. He supposedly arrived in England as Francis Drake's prisoner of war. He rose in importance to become Queen Elizabeth's physician (1586). He was accused by other members of the court, including the Earl of Essex, and the Portugese pretender Dom Antonio,of being a Spanish spy who was trying to poison the Queen, and arrested, but the Queen refused to carry out the death sentence. On June 7, 1594, she finally consented and he was hanged. He was vilified as being a "Jew" throughout his trial.
1526 March 30, ANTWERP (Belgium)
Emperor Charles V, ruler of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, issued a general safe-conduct to the Portuguese "New Christians" and Marranos (though not to professing Jews), allowing them to live and work in Antwerp. Although they still had to live under cover, they were safe from the Inquisition which was not recognized and allowed to work in the Southern "Low Countries," though they were under Spanish rule. Only after the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), when Antwerp passed to Austrian rule, were the Jews able to live there openly. Charles was the grandson of Ferdinand as well as Emperor
1526 November 9, HUNGARY AND CROATIA
Following the short occupation by the Ottoman Empire of Buda, the Jews were expelled after being falsely accused by the Hapsburgs of aiding the Turks against Hungary. Many Jews had left Hungary with the departing Turks in hopes of a better life. Jews were not allowed to return for almost 200 years.
1527 May 16, ROME WAS SACKED (Italy)
By troops of Charles V in his fight against the League of Cognac which consisted of France, England, Pope Clement VII, Venice, and Florence. Although Jews suffered with the rest of the population, their lot would soon worsen under the Counter-Reformation.
1527 June 16, FLORENCE (Italy)
With the expulsion of the Medici family (as in 1495) the Jews were again ordered to leave. Their actual expulsion was delayed until 1531, when Alessandro de Medici became duke and the order was rescinded.
1528 - 1601 MORDECHAI MEISEL (Prague, Bohemia)
One of the first great Court Jews. He was extremely wealthy and a generous philanthropist.
The first Auto da Fe took place in the New World. One of its first victims was Hernando Alonso. One of Cortes' conquistadors, he was burned at the stake with another "Judaizer". An official Office of the Inquisition would only be set up in 1571.
1529 THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL MUSSAR (ETHICAL) BOOK (Salonika, Greece)
Was published in the sixteenth century. Sefer HaYirah (Book of Fear), was originally composed by Jonah Gerondi the Hasid in the thirteenth century.