Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Bragan├ža (W)

Bragan├ža Street

This city was  the fiefdom of the Dukes of Bragança beginning in the 15th century. The House of Bragança   became the Royal House of Portugal in the 17th century. Don Itzhak Abarbanel--biblical scholar , physician,  financier, poet, courtier and financier for the Royal House of Portugal and the country’s most eminent Jewish figure--lived here.  Born in Lisbon in 1437, he served as Minister of the Treasury to King Alfonso V.  It was here that a long-term friendship between the House of Bragança and the Abarbanels was formed. (Abarbanel later became Minister of Finance to King Ferdinand of Spain [see Segovia]).

Winemaking and textiles were among the occupations of the Jews of this province in the 15th century, and they were also responsible for starting the local silk industry.  By the 18th century these activities were typically performed by Crypto-Jews.