Jewish historians are almost unanimous in describing the first half of the sixteenth century as the happiest period in the history of the Jews in the Papal State. The appeal by the humanist Johannes Reuchlin to Bonnetto de Lattés, Leo X's doctor, requesting him to intervene in his conflict with the Dominicans, is a good illustration of the influence of certain Jews at the papal court at that time. Other examples can be found in the adventures of David Reubeni who in 1524 came to offer Clement VII an alliance with a mythical Jewish realm in Arabia, to fight the Turkish Empire with him. Most of the Jews who frequented the corridors of the Curia believed his statements, and the pope followed their advice. He furnished the adventurer with letters of recommendation to the king of Portugal and other monarchs, and encouraged his activities over several years. The affair can be properly understood only against the background of the restlessness and dreams of the Portuguese New Christians. Objects

of cupidity and an apple of discord between the powers, they were an active and industrious population, 'thanks to whom trade, industry and public revenue are growing daily', to quote their king, John III of Portugal. The last Renaissance popes treated the New Christians very liberally. At Rome, the main theatre of their struggle against the Portuguese Inquisition, they maintained a sort of permanent 'pressure group' charged with obtaining the favours and indulgences of the Holy See. Clement VII and Paul III welcomed them into the Papal State with open arms-and the latter was sharply criticised for so doing by the Portuguese delegate to the Council of Trent. Paul, according to a lampoon, was 'as pleasant to the marranos, who denied the divinity of Christ, as he was harsh towards the Protestants, who denied the divinity of the pope.'