The strange case of Dr Lopez and Mr Shakespeare
Erich Schmidt Verlag
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Most students of Elizabethan drama have read that upon the trial and execution in 1594 of Queen Elizabeth’s Jewish physician, Roderigo Lopez, for attempting to poison his patient, there was an outbreak of anti-Semitism in London, leading to a revival of Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and, a year or two later, Shakespeare’s writing The Merchant of Venice. In this short essay, I will argue that there is no connection between the Lopez case and The Merchant of Venice or English attitudes towards Jews in general, for we have no evidence that any such public demonstration of anti-Jewish sentiment occurred.