The Dona Gracia Project

Commemorating a Remarkable Jewish Woman

For a time-line of Dona Gracia's life - see below. We also highly recommend:

The most comprehensive biography of Dona Gracia's life to date. To purchase the paperback, Kindle edition or hardcover editon go to (


1478: Pope authorizes the establishment of an Inquisition in Spain
1483 (?): Francisco Mendes (Benveniste), her future husband, born in Spain
1485: Diogo Mendes (Benveniste), her brother-in-law and business partner, born in Spain
1492: expulsion of the Jews from Spain
1497: forced conversions of all Jews in Portugal
1506: massacre of conversos in Lisbon
1510 (?) : birth of Beatrice de Luna (Doņa Gracia Nasi) in Lisbon
1512: Diogo Mendes sent to Antwerp to develop northern European business
1522: birth of her nephew, Bernardo Micas (Don Samuel Nasi)
1524: birth of her nephew and business partner, Juan Micas (Don Joseph Nasi)
1526: last mention in records of Alvaro de Luna, Doņa Gracia's father
1528 (?): marriage of Doņa Gracia to Francisco Mendes (Benveniste)
1531: creation of Antwerp bourse/​stock exchange
1531-6: authorization of an Inquisition in Portugal amid numerous delays
1531 - 1555 (?): escape network for conversos developed, supported and expanded
1534 (?): birth of Ana Mendes (Reyna Benveniste), daughter of Francisco and Doņa Gracia
1535: death of Francisco Mendes
1537: departure of Doņa Gracia and family member from Lisbon and arrival in Antwerp
1539: Diogo Mendes marries Brianda, Doņa Gracia's sister, in Antwerp
1540: birth of La Chica (Gracia Benveniste) Doņa Gracia's niece, in Antwerp
1543: death of Diogo Mendes
1544: Queen Marie and Emperor Charles try to wed Anna to disreputable nobleman
1545: Doņa Gracia and family members flee Antwerp and arrived in Venice
1548: Doņa Gracia leaves hurriedly for Ferrara
1549-1552: Doņa Gracia becomes a patron of printing and literature
1552: Doņa Gracia returns to Venice and departs for Ottoman Empire
1552: Doņa Gracia arrives in Constantinople
1553: abduction of La Chica in Venice
1554: Ana (Reyna) weds Don Joseph Nasi in Constantinople
1555: roundup of conversos in Ancona and Inquisition trials of family agents in Venice
1556: burning of conversos in Ancona and death of Brianda in Ferrara
1557: La Chica marries Don Samuel Nasi in Ferrara
1560: Doņa Gracia acquires lease on Tiberias and fosters Jewish resettlement
1566: death of Sultan Suleiman and accession of Sultan Selim II
1566: Don Joseph becomes Duke of Naxos
1569: death of Doņa Gracia and Don Samuel
1579: death of Don Joseph
1599 (?): death of Ana (Reyna)

Events & Books about Dona Gracia

An exhibt of documents and photos covering the life of Dona Gracia Nasi (available to accompany a lecture). See contact info at right.

Jews in the Renaissance
July 5 - 11

A better understanding of how Dona Gracia's life and mission fitted into Renaissance life will come to life at a week-long examination of Jewish life during the Renaissance period(15h - 17th centuries). The setting will be a Jewish retreat center near Tanglewood, MA.

Berkshire Hills Emmanual Adult Vacation Center
Copake, N.Y.

Annual Conference of Anousim
August 3 - 5
A chance to network, hear some excellent speakers and talk over important issues will be available at the ninth annual conference of anousim/conversos.

It will take place at Congregation B'nai Zion,
805 Cherry Lane,
El Paso, TX. 79912.
Contact Sonya Loya,

Classes: Meet a Conversa with Sonya Loya
Numerous upcoming dates: Students and adults will get a chance to hear from someone who has returned to her ancestral Jewish faith; and the emotional and spiritual journey that went the change. Her talk will be illustrated with pieces of her delicate art work that evolved from that experience. Reach Sonya for dates, times and admittance requirements at:

NOTE: *This class is only open to participants in the Road Scholar week-long vacation-study program - one of their most popular which is centered on Crypto-Jews. See the Road Scholar website for further information:

Part of a Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) week
Lectures and discussions.

Hotel Elegante
2020 Menaul Blvd.
Albuquerque, N.M.

BOOKS: Biography: The Woman who Defied Kings, by Andrée Aelion Brooks

Paragon House, 2002

A comprehensive biography based upon the original 16th century documents.
Available in hardcover, paperback or e-book download.

BOOKS: Biography: Dona Gracia of the House of Nasi by Cecil Roth

Jewish Publication Society (paperback reprint 2001 of Roth's original 1948 book)

A brief, highly readable albeit dated account of the life of Dona Gracia Nasi. For a quick overview this is excellent, although some of the material has been altered by recent findings.

FOR CHILDREN: Out of Spain

Hitchcock Books, 2000

Learning materials for children aged 10-12 years.
*Click on title above to reach the free download of our Dona Gracia lesson for chidren.
Details of the full program of four books, a video and a music CD can be found at:
We have been having difficulties with this site lately, so if you encounter trouble, please send an email to and we will do our best to answer questions and/or accept orders for our products.

BOOKS: Novels:
Click line above for a sampling of covers
Disclaimer: these novels are listed for informational purposes only. A listing here does not imply an endorsement or recommendation. We do not provide reviews.

1. "La Senora" by Catherine Clément

Calmann-Levy, 1992
Available in paperback (French language only).

2. "The Ghost of Hannah Mendes" by Naomi Ragen

St. Martin's Griffin 2001
Available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover.

3. "Daring Daughter of the Convenant" by Emilie M. Barnett

Windjammer Adventure Publishing, 2009
Available in Kindle and paperback.

How to reach us?

Upcoming Events
July 5 - 11
A session on Dona Gracia will be part of a week-long program studying Jews in the Renaissance. Berkshire Hills Adult Vacation Center, Copake, N.Y.
August 3 - 5
Ninth annual conference of anousim/conversos. Congregation B'nai Zion, El Paso, TX. Details contact Sonya Loya,
Numerous programs for Road Scholar, formerly Elderhostel, at the Hotel Elegante, Albuquerque, N.M. Contact Sonya for dates and details at: Email: