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Flora Cassen - January 26, 2017

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Image of a medieval age college
Philip II of Spain and his Italian Jewish Spy

In the bitter sixteenth-century conflict between the Spanish and Ottoman empires, both sides relied on espionage. For Jewish men like Simon Sacerdoti (c.1540-1600), whose home had fallen to Spain, expulsion by King Philip II (1527-1598) was a very real risk. But Sacerdoti, scion to one of Milan's wealthiest Jewish families, had direct access to high-level information from teh enemy Ottomans, information that was of great value to Philip and to Spain. Sacerdoti, thus, found himself serving a king and an empire with a long history of harming the Jews, while spying on the Ottomans, a far more tolerant power. This talk explores Sacerdoti's actions and motivations and shines new light on early modern diplomacy and espionage, and on the place of the Jews in a time of competing empires and loyalties.


Flora Cassen is Assistant Professor of History and Van der Horst Fellow in Jewish History and Culture at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. Her forthcoming book with the University of Cambridge Press, Marking the Jews in Renaissance Italy: Politics, Religion, and the Power of Symbols, examines the roots of anti-Judaism through a study of discriminatory marks that the Jews were compelled to wear in 15th - and 16th C Italy. 




St. Jerome's University, SJ2-1002
Lecture: following the reception




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