BELMONTE


BELMONTE, Dutch Sephardi family of poets and diplomats of Marrano extraction. The first member of the family to figure in Jewish life was JACOB ISRAEL (1570–1629). Born in Madeira as a Marrano under the name of Diego Nuñez Belmonte, he was one of the founding members of the Amsterdam Jewish community. According to Daniel Levi (Miguel) de *Barrios, he wrote a satire in Spanish directed against the Inquisition and a poem on Job, both now lost. His son MOSES (17th century) drew and engraved a portrait of his mother Simḥah (Gimar) Vaz. It is impossible to establish their family relationship with ISAAC NUÑEZ (alias MANUEL) BELMONTE (d. 1705), a wealthy merchant who served from 1664 as Spanish agent general in the Netherlands and from 1674 as resident minister or consul. In 1684/5 his community dues amounted to 50 fl, making him sixth in the taxpayers list. In 1693 be was created count palatine by Emperor Leopold III, while at the same time the king of Spain conferred on him the title of baron. In 1676 Isaac Nuñez Belmonte founded a poetic society in Amsterdam, the Academia de los Sitibundos and in 1685 the Academia de los Floridos. Meetings of the Academia were held in his mansion. In 1684 he was appointed one of the two deputies to represent the Sephardi community in cases before the Dutch authorities. From 1700 he lived in the splendid house now at 586 Herengracht. He wrote two poems in memory of the Crypto-Jew Abraham Bernal, who was burned in the auto de fé in Córdoba in 1655. He was parnas of the community on and off between 1697 and 1704 and also served as a member of the committee for the redemption of the captives. Unmarried, he was succeeded after his death, both in his title and his diplomatic post, by his nephew Baron FRANCISCO (ISAAC) XIMENES (d. 1713) who, in turn, was followed by his son, MANUEL XIMENES (d. 1730) who died childless, and the title became extinct. JACOB ABRAHAM BELMONTE (alias Franz van Schoonenberg; b. 1757), Dutch diplomat, also was connected with this family, but it is impossible to establish the exact relationship. ISAAC NUÑEZ BELMONTE (18th–19th centuries), a scholar of Smyrna, presumably belonged to a branch of this family which had emigrated to Turkey. He was author of Sha'ar ha-Melekh (Salonika, 1771; Bruenn, 1801; Lemberg, 1859), a commentary on the first and second parts of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Brugmans-Frank, 1 (1940), 455; Roth, Marranos (1959), 304, 332, 337f.; J. Caro Baroja, Los Judíos en la España moderna y contemporanea, 2 (1961), 152; ESN, 1 (1949), 59; I. da Costa, Israel en de Volken (1848), 287; idem, Noble Families among the Sephardic Jews (1936), index; R.J.H. Gottheil, The Belmont-Belmonte Family (1917). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Kaplan, From Christianity to Judaism (1989), index.

[Kenneth R. Scholberg]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.