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Chapter Summary

This book talks about the Sephardic merchants of seventeenth-century Amsterdam. The plethora of works both scholarly and popular on the Sephardim of Amsterdam is not surprising. This group has fascinated scholars in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries because it seems to offer, as Barbara Tuchman has written in another context, a distant mirror that can be held up to the lives and issues faced by minority groups in general, and Jews specifically, today. The author argues later in the book about the Portuguese merchants with no known Jewish ancestry were culturally almost indistinguishable from the new Christians. This book is predicated upon the idea that newer social and economic perspectives must be applied to the understanding of the early modern history of new Christians, specifically, and to Jewish History, generally.

Keywords: Amsterdam; Barbara Tuchman; Jewish ancestry; Portuguese merchants; Sephardic merchants



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