The Freelance History Writer talks to Cassidy Cash of ‘That Shakespeare Life’ podcast about the life of Dr. Rodrigo Lopez, physician to Queen Elizabeth I of England.
“Born in Portugal, Dr. Roderigo Lopez fled to England in the 16th century as a Jewish refugee. His family was Jewish, forced to convert to Catholicism, and when he arrived in England he joined the Church of England to become Protestant while still practicing Jewish rituals at home. Serving at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1576, Lopez rose through the ranks as a doctor until he was the Chief Physician there. He served as doctor to some of England’s most notable dignitaries including Sir Francis Walsingham, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, and even Queen Elizabeth herself. These highly prestigious professional connections were a boon for Dr. Lopez’ medical career, but the danger of these connections led to Dr. Lopez being entangled with spies and ultimately to his execution on grounds of plotting an assasination against Queen Elizabeth. The scandal of Dr. Lopez’ trial in 1594 happened while Shakespeare was in London, and the cultural anti-semitism of 16th century England that played a role in Lopez’ conviction is echoed in some of the references to Jews we find in Shakespeare’s plays.”