Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom – and Revenge by Edward Kritzler

Pirates, political intrigue, gold, tropical islands …and hidden histories!  I love it!  Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean is a grand topic.  And instead of being based on just lively imagination, there’s actually some real information and research here….though some of the conclusions are huge leaps.  But what fun to learn about this aspect of New World history!   It would make a splendid intrigue/adventure novel…. or film.  Pirates as political allies….

In the 15th Century when the Jews were expelled from Spain and then Portugal, there were few places where they were permitted to settle.  Some went to the Netherlands (which tolerated them just barely) and some dispersed into the Ottoman Empire…and some joined ships crews – bound for the lands newly discovered by Columbus.  Geographically removed from the Inquisition, new communities grew up in New Spain, along with new lines of commerce and communications among far flung Jewish settlements.  This very interesting book proposes that some resourceful Jewish leaders eventually used these information lines to keep the Inquisition from moving to the New World.   And, perhaps, to conspire with English princes and pirates in targeting supposedly secret Spanish shipping lanes, thereby bringing down the Spanish empire …and ending its Inquisition.  Oh, and there’s the matter of the lost gold mine on Jamaica….

It’s a thoroughly entertaining premise and I very much enjoyed learning more detail about the early colonial/commercial history of the Jews in the New World —and the very interesting conspiracy theory of using England to punish Spain.

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