From “Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World” by Nicholas Terpstra

p. 140-142 Al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad al-Wazan al-Fasi (c. 1494-1554)
“He was born in Granada shortly after the Spanish conquest, and by some accounts his mother was a Jewish convert to Islam. The family soon joined the diaspora that saw many thousands of Granadan Muslims cross to North Africa. They relocated to Fez, where an uncle served in the sultan’s court. His uncle’s influence secured a university education and a place in court for al-Hasan al-Wazan and when barely a teenager he travelled with the uncle on diplomatic missions into the Maghreb to Timbuktu. At 21 he went on his own to the Ottoman court in Istanbul. He witnessed the Ottoman conquest of Mamluk Egypt in 1517 and travelled further into Egypt in 1517, and into Arabia before returning home in 1518. He never arrived. Catholic corsair pirates working with the crusading order of St John out of the island of Rhodes seized the ship and imprisoned the passengers. When they realised that the 24-year-old boy was a university-educated diplomat from a prominent Moorish family they bundled him off to Rome where, after a short stay in the papal prison of Castel San Angelo he was presented to Pope Leo X… In 1520 al-Hazan al-Wazan converted to Catholicism and was baptized by Pope Leo X himself with the Latin name of Joannes Leo de Medici; most people in Rome referred to him simply as Giovanni Leone… he was a potential intelligence asset at a time when the pope feared the Ottomans would attack Italy from their new territories along the North African coast … He translated the epistles of St Paul into Arabic, in 1521, although his later writings and actions make it clear that his ‘conversion’ was a strategic and not a spiritual act. …It also set the stage for his most famous work, The Description of Africa, whose popularity led many to call him ‘Leo Africanus’. … {he] wrote this after a few years travelling around Italy during which he lived with a family of Jewish Iberian exiles in Bologna and wrote some other works on Arabic medicine and grammar … Al-Hasan al-Wazan disappeared just before some of Charles V’s unpaid and restless Germany mercenaries sacked Rome in 1527 … he most likely returned to Tunis and Islam. He may have journeyed to Fez, although there is no record of him in either place, or anywhere else for that matter. He seems not to have realised his oft-stated goal of writing an account of Europe for Muslims.”

p. 147 “Elizabeth Dirks was a Frisian girl sent to a convent by her noble family. Hearing of the execution of a local Anabaptist, she began studying the Latin New Testament and was drawn to radicalism. A year in convent prison failed to shake her convictions, and she fled disguised as a milkmaid, taking shelter with an Anabaptist family. She worked and taught with Menno Smons, and may have been the first Mennonite deaconess; those who captured her in January 1549 took her to be Menno’s wife. The arrest launched months of investigation. As reported in The Bloody Theater or Martyr’s Mirror (1660) Elizabeth parried firmly and intelligently with her interrogators, and their exchanges show a woman with a sure grasp of scripture ad doctrine, calmly confident, firmly pacifist, and not in the least intimidated by their power and authority. … they turned to torture in order to get the names of her accomplices,… but she never betrayed her faith or fellow believers. After two months she was executed in the fashion that some authorities reserved for these radicals, like Elizabeth, who had been rebaptized; she was sewn alive into a sack and thrown into the river – the so-called third baptism of drowning.”

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