Jews and the Exploration of the New World. How could Jews be influential in Catholic Spain? With the opening of trade between Barcelona, Europe and Asia, Jews became involved in marine development
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Initially Jews forced to support expansion of the Portuguese fleet by furnishing an anchor and ropes for each vessel.
Later in the 15th Century, the Portuguese had already begun to explore the coast of Africa, and Jews fought for the capture of Mauritania in 1415.
Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) set up a naval school in Sagres and appointed the most important nautical scholar of the time, Mestre Jaime of Mallorca, a Jew. At this time, Jews in Mallorca were renowned for their nautical knowledge.
Kingdoms of Spain in the 1400s were divided and weak. The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragón and Isabella of Castile in 1469 had originally been supported by Jews and Marranos because of Ferdinand’s father’s support for them, and Jews lent Ferdinand money to court Isabella (Aragón broke)
All of this took place at a time when Jews and Marranos constituted some of the wealthiest families in Spain and were envied by Christians.
The introduction of the Inquisition in 1479 in Spain served as much to take wealth away from Jews as to purify the Marranos
Columbus entered into the service of Isabella in 1487