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Lopez, Roderigo


LOPEZ, RODERIGO (1525–1594), Portuguese Marrano physician. After graduating at Salamanca, he settled in London early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He became a member of the College of Physicians and was the first house physician at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Subsequently, he was appointed physician to the earl of Leicester and in 1586 to Queen Elizabeth. He was connected by marriage with Alvaro Mendes (Solomon *Abenaes), duke of Mytilene, the adviser of the Turkish sultan. Lopez worked closely with the earl of Essex, the Queen's favorite, and participated in an intrigue to secure English intervention on behalf of Dom *Antonio, pretender to the throne of Portugal. Later, he broke with Dom Antonio and began to work for an understanding with Spain. The Spanish court secretly negotiated with him and offered a heavy bribe if he would murder the pretender. Early in 1594 he was arrested and accused of plotting to poison Elizabeth, was found guilty, and executed at Tyburn (June 7, 1594). There is little doubt that he was innocent, though his aims and methods were not above suspicion. The case attracted much attention, and it isgenerally believed that Lopez was the prototype of Shylock in *Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.


G. Harvey, Lopez the Jew (1920); Roth, England3, 140ff.; Hume, in: jhset, 6 (1908–10), 32–55; Wolf, ibid., 11 (1924–27), 1–34; Gwyer, ibid., 16 (1945–51), 163–84; Kohler, in: ajhsp, 17 (1909), 9–25; dnb, s.v.

[Cecil Roth]

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