BASSANO was born in 1510 in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy. He
died on 19 Oct 1574 in London, England. He was buried on 20 Oct 1574
in All Hallows Barking, London, England. BIOGRAPHY: Anthony was the
second or third son of Jeronimo, sack but player to the Doge of Venice. He was
a well-known musical instrument maker as well as musician. He played for Henry
VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. In the parish records for All Hallows
by the Tower, Anthon is listed as "the famous Anthony Bassanye". Whether
that refers to his musical abilities or exceptional instrument making is not
ascertained. He was in England making instruments for the King and others by
1531. Lasocki, In Vol. II, P. 561, tells of one such record that says, "an
inventory has survived of an instrument chest made by the Bassani brothers, which
contained instruments so beautiful and good that they are suited for dignitaries
and potentates. The inventory was made by Johann (Hans) Jakob Fugger, artistic
advisor and superintendent of music at the Bavarian court of Munich. A letter
dated March 26, 1571 from Wilhelmo Olivo to Johan de Porta in Brussels, offering
the instruments for sale were with the list.
BIOGRAPHY: Alvise and Anthony we know for sure made instruments. In the next
generation, Anthony's eldest son, Arthur, inherited his father's instrument making
capabilities. From 1542 to 1552 the brothers had a workshop at Charterhouse where
they were living. In 1552 Anthony and his brothers, Jasper and John Baptista
bought the tavern "The Bell", on Mark Lane and again a work-shop was
set up in their home there.
BIOGRAPHY: In 1538 after the birth of Anthony and Elina's daughter, he was bak
in England. In 1546 his brother, Baptista and Anthony Mark were given passports
and 20 lbs. plus two horses to return to Italy at a "suit for Sir Henry
BIOGRAPHY: On Dec. 10, 1565 in the parish register of All Hallows by the Tower,
an interesting account is given; "be it known by these present that the
wife of July bone tempo dutpotzo whose name is Lodwicke, a Venetian (name Datpotzo
exists today as 'maker of musical things'") was delivered of a man child
10th day of Dec. Anno 1565 in the house of Mr. Anthony Bassanye, one of the Queen's
musicians dwelling in Mark Lane in the parish of All Hallows Barking and was
baptised in the aforesaid parish church the 17th day of the said month, whose
name is called Thomas. Whereunto were godfathers, Johon de Pezharo and Placito
Ragazonye, merchants and Venetians. The godmothers, Elizabeth Frigera, daughter
of Anthony Bassani, and the midwife Mrs. Harrison". Dr. Lasocki says, "Placito
di Ragazoni was a beneficed priest at the Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della
Carita and worked as a singer at St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice by 1518 until 1525
when he was given permission to go on a galley voyage".
BIOGRAPHY: Proven will of Anthony Bassanye of the Queen's Majesty's Musicians
BIOGRAPHY: To Ellyn, my wife, household belongings, jewels, plate etc. in England
and everywhere (he held belongings in Venice, Italy) and after to my sons.
House to Ellen for life and then to sons, Mark Anthony, Arthur, Edward, Andrew,
Jerome Bassano equally, "so they all dwell there" and if any try to
sell their patrimony, they are disinherited.
To the use of my daughter, Lucras, 50 lbs. which I proimised her, at such time
as the same Lucrece shall have occasion to_____________ the same, and when my
wife may pay the same at her commoditie.
And I will that her husband shall put in good sureities, that the same shall
remain in good men's hands to the use of my said daughter and her children.
My daughter, Elizabeth, shall dwell in my house during her natural life, if her
husband repair not to her. My wife and sons are to care for her.
Ellen, executor, with brother, Baptista as overseer.
July 12, 1571
BIOGRAPHY: Note: References: The Bassanos, Italian Musicians At The English Court
1531 - 1664; by Barbara E. Harrison, 1991.
BIOGRAPHY: To entice Anthony's brothers to England, the King, already well acquainted
with the musical talents, seems to have promised them places and financial reward.
Severl years later Alvise wrote that it was at the contgemplation of His Highness'
letters that he and his three other brothers
BIOGRAPHY: "did leave their own country, the Seignory of Venice to serve
as well His Highness and His Grace's heirs and successors, Kings of this realm
(England) in the science of music, and thereby - - lost their entertainment and
were in jeopardy of utter banishment from thence (i.e. Venice)."
BIOGRAPHY: The reasons why they would have lost their entertainment--that is,
service or employment--and been unable to return to Venice emerges from a letter
written on Oct. 4, 1539 by Henry's agent in Venice, Edmond Harvel, to Thomas
Cromwell, giving an account of his negotiations with the Venetian authorities.
(The letter is apparantly the last of a sequence on the subject, the rest of
which is now lost.) Harvel writes that he has:
BIOGRAPHY: "well considered Your Lordship's answer concerning the matter
with this State for the musicians, whereof neither of their part nor mine has
been moved any farther in the business, for I esteemed it to be agains the King's
dignity to havre made any farther suit for such a trifle, but rather condemn
their (i.e. the Venetian authorities) rusticity used in the thing most vilely.
But the minstrels of their own proper motions and for that ardent desire of licence
which they have privately required (i.e. rfequested) of the Duke, and putting
also any displeasure or damage that might ensue unto them aside, are departed
towards England the first of the instant month with all their instruments."
BIOGRAPHY: Apparantly unaware that three of the four brothers had previously
visited England and been part of the Court's musical establishment, where their
musiscal abilities would have been assessed, Harvel continues:
BIOGRAPHY: "They are four brethren, all excellent and esteemed above all
others in this city in their virtue. Whereby I hope they shall be very grateful
to the King's Highness and to Your Lordship who is also delighting in good music,
not vulgarly nor in vulgar music, as I understood. Besides, it shall be no small
honor to His Majesty to have music comparable with any other prince or perchance
better and more variable. And because these men are poor and could not set forwards
in so costly a journey without help of money as well for their own costs as for
conveyance of their instruements and other necessaries, I have delivered them
160 crowns of gold (40 lbs.) and provided besides letters of crfedit for such
money as they might need by the way, that they be not destitute to go forwards
without impediment and discommodity--which I have done as well to gratify to
the King's Highness as also by the commission of Master Sir Henry Knyvett, trusting
that Your Lordship will allow the thing well, for I have done if of a good mind
and to do His Majesty's service therein, which is my princiupal desire above
BIOGRAPHY: Several important points about the Bassanos are to be found in Harvel's
letter. First he claims the brotheres were considered the best musicians in Venice.
Second, their talents were to provide Henry with music comparable with any other
prince or perchance better and more variable, a statement that probably refers
to their recorder playing, perhaps coupled with their instrument making. Third,
they privately asked the Doge of Venice for an exit license. This has been interpreted
to mean that the brothere were in the direct employment of the Doge, probably
in his 'rombe e piffar' band. In Glixon's opinion, The license the Bassani needed
to leave may have been of the sort that was peiodically required of anybody wanting
to leave the Republic, and not that they were necessarily employed by the Doge.
On the other hand if Jeronimo, their father was sackbut for the Doge earlier
in the century, some or all of his sons could also have been members who played
for him. Finally, they risked a great deal to go to England, probably for religious
BIOGRAPHY: No single piece of surviving evidence proves conclusively that the
Bassanos were Jews or of Jewish origin; however strong evidence suggests so.
They were close colleagues of Jews, lived with them, married them and even dreamed
about them, (Amelia Lanyear, referred to as the Dark Lady of Shakespeare) referring
to her writings and dreams.
BIOGRAPHY: The name Bassano derived from the town of Bassano del Grappa near
Venice and is a common Italian Jewish name. With its variants Bassan, di Bassan
and Bassani, it was well known in North Italian Jewry during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. There were Jews of this name, often leaders of their community.
It was the name of more than one Rabbinical family, and there were Rabbi Bassanos
in Venice, Verona, Mantua, Ferrara and Constantinople, among other places. The
name, then, is evidence that the English Bassanos were Jews at least in origin.
On its own, however, it is not quite conclusive, since working-class Christians
also took their surname from the townsthey lived in. Still, Bassano was much
more common as a Jewish name than as a Christian one, especially around 1500,
and a Christian who called himself Bassano in sixteenth-century Vencie would
certainly have run the risk of being thought a converted Jew.
BIOGRAPHY: The name had become widespread partly because the Christian citizens
of Bassano del Grappa had expelled their Jewish community. They had made several
attempts to do so before1500 but had always been prevented by the Venetian Authorities.
Finally, in 1516, taking advantage of the chaos created by the War of the League
of Cambrai, they succeeded in excluding the Jews forever. The hostility to Jews
demonstrated by their fellow citizens may help to explain the movements of Jeronimo
I and his sons in the first half of the sixteenth century; why Alvise and probably
his father, too, were working as musicians in Venice by 1515; andy why, despite
Jasper's calling himself native in Bassani when he made his will in 1577 and
the family's ownership of a house in Bassano until at leat 1571, no members as
far as we know, ever lived there again, or visited the town; although the brothers
in England regularly returned. Venice accepted Jews as residents; Bassano del
Grappa did not. Banishment from Bassano would also help to explain why the brothers
were so determined to leave Venice for England. They had lost their original
home and knew that they could never return to it. Therefore they had less to
lose from the move to England.
BIOGRAPHY: We have in fact, some reason to believe that Bassan itself was not
Jeronimo's home town, and that he may have suffered exile once before in his
life. The family coat of arms--on which were displayed three silkeworm moths
and a mulberry tree--in itself is evidence of Jewish identity; since it implies
that at some time the family had been engaged in silk farming, a trade which
Jews first introduced into Italy and in which they were heavily involved for
a long time. It seems unlikely, however, that the family were silk farmers in
Bassano, since the industry was not introduced there until about 1500, by which
time they were definitively musicians and instrument makers. Their origins, then
may have lain elsewhere--possibly in the Kingdom of Sicily, in the Calabrian
town of Catanzaro. This hypothesis is attractive for two reasons: Catanzaro was
famous for its community of Jewish silk farmers, and it expelled them at the
end of the fifteenth century. Such a history of exile would have made the move
to England less dauting.
BIOGRAPHY: Four of the Bassano brothers visited England around 1531 to take up
employment as court musicians. The timing is significant because at this time
Henry VIII had a particular interest in the Jews of Venice. In order to annul
his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Bloeyn, Henry needed the authority
of scripture, which he hoped to get from some Venetian Rabbis. His agent in the
Harvel, spent several months there canvassing the opinions of Jews and monks,
and in the end an apostate, Mark Raphael, wasinvited to England to present his
favourable report. He traveled in the same year as the Bassanos and may have
taken them in his entourage. It may be significant that Anthony I and Jacomo
Bassano were later greanted the same licence to import Gascon wine that Raphael
had recieved from the King--there was oftgen a connection between successive
recipients of a particular grant.
BIOGRAPHY: By the time the Bassanos made their permanent move4 to England in
1538-41, Henry VIII had broken with Rome. He then took into his employment, besides
the Bassanos, several other Italian musicians, most of them definitly Jews. They
included the entire six-member violin consort, who arrived in 1540. when four
of the Bassanos first came to England, they were met by some surviving members
of the sackbut consort, two of whom--John de Antonia alias Moyses and Pelegryne
Simon alias Maiohn--were almost certainly Jews. Baptista Bassano travelled back
to Venice on business with another musical colleague from England, Anthony Maria
alias Cuson alias Alberti, whose names and circumstances suggest a Jewish identity.
BIOGRAPHY: The Bassanos also married Jews. Alvise's daughter Laura married Joseph,
younger son of Ambrose Lupo, whos Jewish name was Almaliach, father and son were
members of the royal violin consort. Two of the Bassano brothers, Jacomo and
Anthony I, married Venetian women who were probably sisters, since they both
had the same surname--Nasi or de Nasis. We cannot be sure that these women were
Jews, but it is likely, since(nasi) is Hebrew for 'leader' or 'prince' and it
became the name of a Sephardic family--an ancient and memorable Jewish clan',
as Cecil Roth dubbed them.
BIOGRAPHY: Soon after the Bassanos arrival in London, they were given accommodation
in the ab andoned Charterhouse. When they were forced to leave, three of them
bought a house in Mark Lane in the east of the City, an area whre most of the
Portuguese Jewish community lived. The leader of this community, Hector Nunez,
himself lived in Mark Lane. He and several other Portuguese Jews attended the
same parish church as Augustine Bassano--St. Olave Hart Street.
BIOGRAPHY: The Bassano's contacts with the Portuguese community were evidently
quite close. For in 1564, Augustine has as his servant living at his house in
or near Mark Lane a Portuguese Jew named Erasmus Anes, a member of a well-known
family who had made their home in London. Several years later he was sharing
his house with his Jewish brother-in-law, Joseph Lupo. A little later, when Jeronimo
Bassano II looked for property outside London, he chose another place that was
favoured by Portugueses Jews, Waltham Abbey in Essex. There is no evidenc they
practiced the Jewish rfeligion however. In 1611, Baptista's younger daughter,
Emilia, who may have been Shakespeare's mistress and who had certainly been a
well-known courtesan published a volume of poems--at the time, a very unusual
thing for a woman to do. The book reveals much about her. She had undergone a
violent religious conversion, and the corfe of the book is a long poem celebrating
Christ's Passion. It includes attacks on 'Jewish Wolves', but its title, which
is also the title of the book, gives a different perspective: "Salve Deus
Rex Judaeorum--"Hail to the God who is King of the Jews". Since Emilia
was writing of her own conversion, the title has little point unless she was
one fo the Judaei. Moreover, we know that the words of the title had psychological
importance for her, since she remembered them from a dream she had many years
BIOGRAPHY: Others may have been aware that the Bassanos were Jews. Shakespeare,
for example, would certainly have known the family and its it striking that the
only Jews in his plays are Venetian, not Portuguese as we might expect, and that
they are closely associated with a character called Bassanio.
BIOGRAPHY: What we know of the Bassanos' actual religious practices, is plentiful.
Their first names are obviously Christian. It is clear that in Venice they passed
as Christians to work for Christian masters. They also could won property in
the city. All apparent Christian behaviour, howver, does not rule out the possibility
that they were or had been practicing Jews. It was normal practice for Italian
Jews who worked in Christian socieities to have two identities, a Christian public
life, and a Jewish private life. When they came to England, the Bassanos dropped
their Catholic behaviour with suspicious ease, and soom became pillars of the
established English church. They conformed outwardly to whatever society they
happened to be in agrees with the hypothesis that they were at some stage Jewish.
BIOGRAPHY: The Bassano family were also knownfor their extremely dark skin.
BIOGRAPHY: Note: Reference for the Jewish Identity of the Bassano family were
taken from: "The Bassanos Venetian Musicians and Instrument Makers in England,
1531 - 1665" by David Lasocki with Roger Prior, 1995. Anthony BASSANO and
Elina DE NAZZI were married on 10 Aug 1536 in Venice, Italy.
23075. Elina DE
NAZZI died on 23 Sep 1571 in All Hallows By The Tower, London, England.
She was born in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy?. BIOGRAPHY: Elina (Ellen)
was the daughter of Beneditto de Nazzi. She was born in Venice, Italy, probably
as that is where she married Anthony Bassano on Aug. 10, 1536. He stayed there
until their daughter, Angelica was born In Nov. of 1537. One can not help but
wonder about the name of their daughter. At least three of the brothers named
daughters, Angelica, Angell and Angela, possibly indicating that could be the
name of their mother.
BIOGRAPHY: Beneditto de Nazzi is considered to possibly be a Jewish name because
Nasi or Nasis means 'leader' or 'prince' in Hebrew. So this makes both families
Bassano and de Nazzi probably Jewish. Children were:
|Mark Anthony BASSANO was born in 1546.|
was born on 31 Oct 1547.|
|Andrea BASSANO was born on 12 Aug 1554.|
was born on 11 Mar 1558/59.|
|Nicholas BASSANO was born on 24 Jul 1550.|
was born on 11 Nov 1537.|
|Margaretta BASSANO was born on 29 Jul