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Raphael, Mark

RAPHAEL, MARK

RAPHAEL, MARK (Marco ; c. 1460–after 1534), Italian rabbi converted to Christianity by Francesco *Giorgio, who acted as his godfather. Raphael played an important role in the theological controversy engendered by the divorce suit brought by Henry viii against his wife Catherine of Aragon and instituted at Venice by the secret envoy of the king, Richard Croke. Associated with the kabbalistic circles which were influential at the time, as well as with the most erudite of the hebraizing humanists in Venice, Raphael entered the service of the Venetian republic in 1525, which made him a grant for having invented an improved invisible ink. He ranged himself on the side of the king in 1529. Although many eminent rabbis of Venice had been consulted, including Kalonymus b. David, Elijah Menahem *Ḥalfan, and Baruch (Bendit) Axelrod ben Eleazar, as well as Solomon *Molcho, Henry viii attached the greatest weight to Raphael s opinion. Raphael wrote a number of theological treatises in Hebrew, still not discovered, at the instigation of Giorgio, who translated them for the king. The quality of his arguments, which varied according to need, and his vast erudition were feared by the king's opponents. Warmly recommended by Giorgio to Henry viii, Raphael was invited to England in 1530, and he remained in the king's service for several years, accompanying him on his visit to France in 1532, serving him in the most diverse capacities and receiving substantial rewards. Henry viii even sent him on a mission of investigation to the Welsh silver and iron mines. He was still alive in 1534, when he complained about his lack of means to his protector Thomas Cromwell.

bibliography:

J.S. Brewer and J. Gairdner (eds.), Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry viii, 4, 3; ibid., 5 and 6; ibid., Addenda 1, 1; Calendar of State Papers in Spanish, 3 and 4,4; L. Wolf, in: Papers Read at the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition (1888), 53; D. Kaufmann, in: rej, 27 (1893) and 30 (1895); C. Roth, History of the Jews in Venice (1930); J.F. Maillard, in: rhr (1972), 157.

[J.-F. Maillard]

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