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BENSAUDE , Moroccan-Portuguese family. abraham bensaude (1790–1868) left Morocco after the creation of a mellah in his hometown of Rabat in 1807. In 1819, he settled in São Miguel, in the Azores and founded the first Jewish community on the island. He was joined by his brother elias and his cousin solomon, who established the firm of Bensaude and Company. Under the direction of the latter's son, abraham, this became one of the most important enterprises in Portugal, with its head office in Lisbon. By the mid-19th century the Bensaude family had established a network of commercial relations between branches in Mogador, Gibraltar, Hamburg, London, Manchester, and Lisbon. The family of the first Abraham Bensaude contributed to the economic development of San Miguel for over a century. His son josÉ (1835–1922) established the tobacco industry and promoted the culture of pineapples, tea, and flax. José's son joaquim (1859–1952) was a distinguished Portuguese historian, noted for his research into the history of Portuguese scientific navigation, L'astronomie nautique au Portugal à l'époque des grandes découvertes (Berne, 1912). He disproved Alexander von Humboldt's thesis concerning the German origin of scientific navigation in Portugal. In particular, he pointed out the important part played by Jewish astronomers and astrologers in the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages, from which scientific navigation in Portugal originated.


A. Bensaude, Vida de José Bensaude (1936); Miège, Maroc, 2 (1961), 96, 574.

[John Alfred Nathan]

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