Moses Bensabat Amzalak

Lived between

1892 – 1978 (85 years old)




Economist, historian

Moses Bensabat Amzalak was born in 1892 in Lisbon, where he lived and died in 1978.

Academic, economist, researcher and leader of the Israeli community in Lisbon.

He was a university professor of economics, with works on naval themes and a scholar of the Jewish presence in the Iberian Peninsula. He is considered one of the greatest Portuguese economists ever, although his work is doomed to oblivion.

He had a vast curriculum, having published more than 300 titles on subjects as diverse as commercial matters, economic history, insurance, history of economic thought, economics and  Jewish-Portuguese history.

He received honorary doctorates at several national and foreign universities, he was a professor and director of the former Instituto Superior do Comércio, later ISCEF; current ISEG, dean of the Technical University of Lisbon, he also served as Chair of the Commercial Association of Lisbon, was the Director of the newspaper “O Século”, member of several renowned academic associations, he was on the Board of Directors of several Companies, including Sacor, bestowed with the French Legion of Honor commendation and the Order of the British Empire.

In the years after the 1st. World War, he took part of some academic meetings where he became Salazar’s friend.. This friendship and privileged relationship eventually contributed to Portugal’s position of neutrality during World War II and promoted the set up  in Portugal of a support network for Jewish refugees who were fleeing Nazi persecutions.

As for insurance matters, he  had the undeniable merit of having freed from the forgetfulness of centuries the figure and work of the 16th century Portuguese jurisconsult Pedro de Santarém.

In 1914, Amzalak published a leaflet on “Pedro de Santarém (Santerna), 16th century Portuguese jurisconsult – Bibliographic notes”.

Later on, in 1917, he published a conference at the Instituto Superior do Comércio on “Insurance according to Pedro de Santarém (Santerna), 16th century Portuguese jurisconsult”.

In 1934 he published in Paris a book entitled “Trois précurseurs portugais”, which first chapter was about “Pedro de Santarém (Santerna) et les assurances maritimes au XVI Siécle”.

He wrote numerous articles and participated in several conferences on Pedro de Santarém, including one at the National Union of Insurance Professionals in Lisbon, in 1952, on the occasion of the 4th Centenary of the 1st publication of the Insurance Treaty.

Finally, in 1958, he promoted the publication of the 1st Portuguese edition of the Treaty, in separate from the “Anais do ISCEF – Tome II – Volume XVI”.The translation from Latin, made by Prof. Miguel Pinto de Meneses, wasused in subsequent publications.