Cardozo (Cardoso), Isaac

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CARDOZO (Cardoso), ISAAC (Fernando ; 1604–1681), Marrano physician and philosopher; brother ofAbraham Miguel *Cardozo. Born in Trancoso, Portugal, Cardozo studied at Salamanca and was accorded the title of phisico mayor ("chief physician") by Philip iv. After practicing as a physician for several years at Valladolid, in 1632 he was appointed physician at the royal court of Madrid. Despite the bitter hostility that grew very strong in Madrid, his career for the next 15 years was an outstanding achievement. He was a popular guest in rich circles in Madrid, where he also mixed with many New Christians, with some of whom he maintained friendly relations overseas after they returned to Judaism. One such person was Dona Isabel Henriquez, who eventually joined the Amsterdam community. Cardozo was also in excellent terms with Lope de Vega, the famous playwright. After 1640 the position of the New Christians in Spain deteriorated immensely. Particularly the Portuguese who lived in Spain suffered. A new inquisitor, Diego de Arce Reinoso, was to act in a very harsh manner, leading thousands of News Christians to leave Spain. Cardozo was actively engaged in campaigning for Judaism. This is known from evidence offered to the Inquisition in 1658, years after his departure from Spain, according to which he tried to persuade Mendez Silva, the royal chronicler, that Judaism was the true faith. Some time in 1648, Cardozo fled to Venice with his brother, openly embracing Judaism and taking the name of Isaac. In Venice both brothers joined the Ponentine or Portuguese synagogue, known as the Talmud Torah, which grew considerably following the disappearance of the mainly ex-Converso Ferrara community in 1581. The two brothers received instruction in Judaism. Five years later, in 1652, Cardozo settled in Verona, where he lived for the next 30 years. He lived a quiet life and worked as a doctor and was an active member of the community. Between 1631 and 1640 Cardozo published in Madrid, in Spanish, a number of medical and scientific works. One of the famous medical treatises was Utilidades del agua y de la nieve, which he dedicated to the Count of Oliovares, the prime minister of Spain. According to Daniel Levi de Barrios, he also published collections of poetry. In his philosophical and theological work Philosophia libera (Venice, 1673), which he wrote during his long stay in Verona, Cardozo, unlike his brother, firmly opposed the teachings of the Kabbalah and *Shabbetai Ẓevi. His comprehensive apologetic work Las excelencias y calumnias de los Hebreos (Amsterdam, 1679) described ten virtues of the Jewish people and refuted ten common calumnies.


Y.H. Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto: Isaac Cardoso, A Study in Seventeenth-Century Marranism and Jewish Apologetics (1971); M. Kayserling, Sephardim (1859), index; Kayserling, Bibl, index; A. D'Esaguy, in: Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine, 6 (1938), 163–70; H. Friedenwald, Jews and Medicine, 1 (1944), 67f.; 2 (1944), 716f.; J. Caro Baroja, La Sociedad Criptojudía de Felipe iv (1963), 101–15. add. bibliography: A. D'Esaguy, Isaac Cardoso… (1951); idem, in: Revue d'Histoire de la Médecine Hebraïque, 41 (1958), 115–19; Y.H. Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto… (1971).

[Joseph Elijah Heller /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]

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Cardozo (Cardoso), Isaac

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