Antonio Alvares

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Antonio Alvares (fl.1641–55) was a jewel merchant who moved from Paris to Amsterdam, where he lived with Isaack and Gabriel Alvares in a house called De vergulde valck (‘The guilded falcon’) in the Uilenburg quarter (cf. Spinoza, mercator & autodidactus, p. 65).

Soon after the takeover of the trading company of Michael (1655), Spinoza got involved into a financial conflict with Antonio Alvares, and his two brothers (April 1655). The issue was the payment to the Espinosa firm of a wisselbrief—a bill of exchange drawn in Antwerp on 25 November 1654, worth 500 Dutch guilders. The conflict reached a climax when Spinoza filed a complaint of non-payment. In this legal complaint, he succesfully charged to arrest (gijselinge) Antonio Alvares to have him to fulfil his financial obligations (voldoeninge). Apparently, Antonio Alvares’s two brothers, Isaack and Gabriel, were present there too. During his hostage, the bailiff’s assistants and Spinoza tried to persuade Alvares to make payment of the wisselbrief he owed to him. Suddenly, Alvares, ‘without speaking or eliciting a response’ (‘sonder woort of weder woort te spreecken’), hit Spinoza on the head with his fist, ‘without the appellant having done anything to him’ (‘sonder dat den requirant hem jets weder misdaen heeft’). When things became quiet again, Antonio and Isaack arranged payment with Spinoza.

Shortly afterward, Spinoza left de Vier Hollanders—in the company of the bailiff’s assistant Fransen—to fetch the money for ‘de oncosten vande gijselinge’ (the costs of the hostage). Immediately upon his return, Alvares’s elder brother Gabriel assaulted Spinoza outside the inn ‘without having offended him’ (‘sonder dat hij hem mede jets misdeede’). Gabriel hit Spinoza with a fist on the head (‘een vuijst voor de cop’) and he ruined his hat, threw it in the gutter and deliberately stood on it (Spinoza, mercator & autodidactus, pp. 28-9, V,5). Finally, in order to satisfy Spinoza, Isaack Alvares promised he was to repay the bill of exchange that his brother owed to him. He also agreed to compensate Spinoza’s lost interest (schade & jnteressen) and the loss of his hat. Spinoza agreed to pay the bailiff’s assistants and the innkeeper for the expenses of Alvares’s arrest. Dispite this promise, however, the conflict dragged on. On 7 May 1655, Antonio Alvares was arrested again. Isaac and Spinoza settled the case, but the outcome of the financial conflict is uncertain.


Gabriel Alvares


Isaack Alvares


Benedictus Spinoza, de

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