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Invented Identities: Credulity in the Age of Prophecy and Exploration

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The sixteenth century was a golden age for impostors and pretenders of many kinds. In addition to the pre-modem lack of means for establishing a person's identity, other contributing factors for the success of impostors were the inability to distinguish between fact and fiction in the flood of reports about newly-discovered lands, the desperate desire of European monarchs to believe in the existence of potential allies against Islam and the eschatological mood bred by the Age of Fear. This article attempts to gauge early modem gullibility by examining the attitudes towards David Reuveni, a self-proclaimed prince from a land of the lost tribes of Israel, who was accepted almost without reservations by Pope, kings and learned cardinals in the 1520s.

Affiliations: 1: Tel Auiv University


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