Italian musicians at the Tudor Court – were they really Jews?

Ten years ago an article appeared in jemish Historical Studies which attempted to revolutionize the history of the Jews in sixteenth-century England.2 The author suggested the presence in London of a second Jewish community, different from that of the Portuguese Marranos whose presence was already well known, con- sisting of the Italian musicians who were active at the Tudor Court. The present study seeks to refute this thesis, starting with a critical discussion of some docu- ments that have recently come to light.

The article which proposed the existence of a second Jewish community in London is the culmination of a series of others that appeared during the preced- ing decade.3 The starting point can be identified as a work in which Roger Prior collected evidence which, in his opinion, demonstrated the Jewish identity of the Bassano family who served King Henry VIII in the first half of the sixteenth

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