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RAPHAEL, MARK:

Italian convert to Christianity; flourished at Venice at the beginning of the sixteenth century. He was a halakist of some repute, and it was said that he was a "chief rabbi" before his conversion. He was consulted by Henry VIII. on the question of the legality, according to Jewish law, of his levirate marriage to Catharine of Braganza, and was invited by him to England. Raphael accordingly arrived in London on Jan. 28, 1531 ("Calendar of State Papers, Spanish," i. 335). He decided that such a marriage was legal, but suggested that the king might take another wife conjointly with the first. This advice not being acceptable, Raphael revised his opinion by pointing to the object of levirate marriage, and contending that as no children had been the result of the union, the king must have married his brother's widow without the intention of continuing his brother's line, and that consequently his marriage was illegitimate and invalid. His opinion was included in the collection presented to Parliament, and Raphael was rewarded in many ways; among others, he was granted a license to import six hundred tons of Gascon and two woads in 1532 (Gardner, "Letters and Papers of Henry VIII." v. 485).

Bibliography:
  • L. Wolf, in Papers of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, p. 63;
  • D. Kaufmann, in R. E. J. xxvii. 52, xxx. 310.
S. J.
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