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PORTALEONE , family in N. Italy which originated in the Portaleone quarter of Rome; the *Sommo (or Sommi) family also belonged to it. From the last half of the 14th century the family produced rabbis, physicians, authors, and poets. Among the first important members was elhanan ben menahem (14th and 15th centuries), rabbi of Fano. He is mentioned in 1399 in connection with a bill of divorce (Responsa of Isaac b. Sheshet, no. 127, New Responsa no. 27; Responsa of Simeon b. Zemah Duran, no. 1). In 1416 he represented the town of Ferrara at a synod held in *Bologna, and he is last mentioned in Fano in 1428. His son benjamin portaleone and his grandson judah portaleone were both physicians. Elhanan's brother, mordecai (Angelo), is mentioned in Ferrara in 1420. The latter's son, benjamin (Guglielmo Mizolo; d. before 1432), lived in Ferrara, and his grandson, mordecai (Angelo) was mentioned there in 1432. benjamin (Guglielmo Mizolo; c. 1420 – c. 1500), Mordecai's son, was born in Mantua and was a renowned physician, well thought of by his Christian colleagues. He completed his studies in Sienna and served as physician to a number of princes; in Naples he served Ferdinand I who knighted him (thereafter he was often referred to as the Jewish knight), and in Milan, Galleazzo Maria Sforza. By 1446 Benjamin returned to his native town, where he served as the physician of the dukes of Mantua: Ludovico Gonzaga, Federico, and Francesco.

Benjamin's son, abraham, was the physician of the duke of Urbino, Guida Baedo, later returning to Mantua, where he served as the physician of the noble Federico and other nobles. He was regarded as one of the best physicians of his generation and also won the esteem of Pope Clement vii. His other son, eleazar, also engaged in medicine in Mantua. In 1499 he received a permit to practice from Pope Alexander vi, andhe, too, became physician to a number of noblemen, among them Prince Carlo Giovanni Sassatelli, commander of the army of the Venetian Republic. In 1530, when David *Reuveni visited Italy, he met Eleazar in Sabbioneta and some time later was entertained by Abraham in Mantua. Eleazar had two sons, david and abraham. In 1518 both were authorized to practice medicine by Pope Leo x, the former in Mantua and the latter in Sermide. The sons of Abraham were judah, meir, and solomon. The first two practiced as physicians in Sermide and served the princes of the house of Gonzaga. Despite an injunction forbidding Jewish physicians to attend Christians, they received special permits from the pope and the rulers to do so. (Meir received such permits in 1593 and 1598.) David's son was the well-known physician, Abraham *Portaleone, author of Shiltei ha-Gibborim. Abraham had three sons, eliezer, judah, and david; the last was also a physician authorized by popes Clement viii and Gregory xv to attend Christians. In 1596 David was in Padua but later he returned to Mantua. David's son, benjamin (d.c. 1683), studied medicine at the University of Sienna, receiving his diploma in 1639, with the special authorization of Pope Urban viii. His brother's son-in-law, solomon, was a well-known surgeon (though without a degree in medicine) serving until 1727. The author of the first Hebrew play, Judah Leone *Sommo, also belonged to this family.


M. Steinschneider, in: hb, 6 (1863), 48–49; M. Mortara, in: rej, 12 (1886), 113–6; L. Luzzatto, in: Vessilic Israelitico, 43 (1895), 154–5; D. Kaufmann, in: jqr, 10 (1898), 445–56; idem, Gesammelte Schriften, 3 (1915), 303–14; I. Abrahams, jqr, 5 (1893) 505–515; W. Colorni, in: Annuario di Studi Ebraici, 1 (1934), 176–82; idem, in: Scritti in Memoria di Sally Mayer (1956), 38ff.; H. Friedenwald, The Jews and Medicine, 2 (1944), 597–9; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah, 2 vols. (1962–64), index; Roth, Italy, index.

[Abraham David]