In Madrid's Prado Museum can be found this most famous of works by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez which is a portrait of the Infanta Margarita, daughter of Philip IV (1605-1665), surrounded by her servants in a hall of Madrid’s Alcázar Palace. It offers a complex composition built with admirable skill in the use of perspective, the depiction of light, and the representation of atmosphere.   The Count-Duke d'Olivares on horseback painted by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez in 1634. The painting hangs in the Prado Museum, Madrid. Olivares was the powerful chief minister of Philip IV who was King during the latter stages of the 1580-1640 unification of Portugal and Spain and in this period there was an influx of Portuguese New Christians to Spain, in particular in the 1626-40 period when wealthy Portuguese New Christian merchants participated in royal financing organised by Olivares. But when he fell in 1643, wealthy Portuguese New Christians came under the scrutiny of the now unfettered Spanish Inquisition, which he had essentially held at bay, and some departed for Venice, Antwerp and Amsterdam

 

 

At the end of the Olivares financing (ref 23) there was an exodus of wealthy New Christians, some of whom had run into trouble before the Spanish Inquisition. Many went to Amsterdam either directly, or via Venice, Livorno or otherwise. One of the wealthy merchants to leave was Tomas Rodrigues Pereira who emerged as Abraham Israel Pereira in Amsterdam in 1646, who amongst other things was well known for financing sugar refineries and Jewish philanthropic causes. His family was from Villaflor in Portugal - a town in northern Portugal situated between Braganza, Mogadouro, Lamego and Lousada (see map), where he was born in 1606 (ref 145). One report suggests he arrived in Madrid in 1623 but in any case he was married there in 1628 and he died in Amsterdam in 1674 (ref 144). Interestingly, Pereira with a great fortune - by some reports the property of the Spanish crown - made good his escape from Madrid to Amsterdam via Venice (see ref 140). From ref 123 (pp232-6, 264) we learn about another departing wealthy New Christian Fernando Montezinos who held contracts to provision the Ceuta garrison and to collect salt taxes in Galicia and Asturias, was a Madrid agent or correspondent for the Rodrigues Lamegos of Rouen, but after trouble with the Cuenca Inquisition in 1656, managed to escape to Antwerp and was able to transfer wealth to Amsterdam with the help of Abraham Israel Pereira. His father was imprisoned by the Coimbra Inquisition (ref 153). Though Fernando died in 1659 as a nominal Christian in Antwerp, probably thereby protecting the vast Castilian business of his sons Manuel and Bartolome in Seville, his remains were secretly exhumed and he was buried at the Oudekerk Sephardic cemetery near Amsterdam. Curiously, Villaflor was the town of origin of another famous Montezinos - Antonio de Luis - who 'found' missing tribes of Israel in what is now Colombia and whose Jewish name was Aaron Levi (ref 8 p197). We have illustrated the Villaflor linkage of the Israel Pereira, Levi Montezinos, Henriques Faro and Baruch Lousada families.

 

It seems likely that the Baruch Lousadas were in Madrid in the period between 1606 when they were probably in Villaflor, and 1640 when they were in Livorno. The 1656 will of Antonio a grandson of Amador de Lousada can be found in the Madrid Historical Archives (ref 145 protocole 9081). Certainly the influx of wealthy Portuguese New Christian merchants of the 1620s included the Rodrigues Pereira and the Montezinos families from Villaflor. The 1677 Amsterdam marriage marriage of David Baruch Louzada #44 to Rachel Levi Gomes who was born in Madrid in 1652 - her brother Jacob was born there in 1658 - provides another strong connection to Madrid; his 1673 Amsterdam marriage to Esther Rodrigues da Costa may also represent a Madrid link (Diogo Rodrigues da Costa was a lender and tax farmer in Madrid from 1635 - see p108 ref 23) though Esther was born in Paris in 1649.