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Book Notes: The Double Life of Doctor Lopez: Spies, Shakespeare and the Plot to Poison Queen Elizabeth I, Dominic Green

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Book Notes The Double Life of Doctor Lopez: Spies, Shakespeare and the Plot to Poison Queen Elizabeth I, Dominic Green (Century, London 2003) isbn 0 7126 1539 3, pp. 402, ?17.99 This is a well-researched, interesting, readable and attractively illustrated book. The author is a graduate in English Literature and strong on the origins of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and its connection with the trial and execution of Dr Rodrigo Lopes on a charge of plotting to poison the Queen. Of course there was no such plot. Lopes and the two other Portuguese, Estev?o Ferreira da Gama and Manuel Luis Tinoco, who were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn with him, on 7 June 1594, were victims of the Earl of Essex's power struggle with Sir Robert Cecil. They were also victims of incompetent interrogation under torture, an unjust legal system and of Lopes' foolishness and greed in entering into an un? authorized correspondence with the enemy Spanish government. The book is marred by some odd mistakes. The author says Lopes was a member of the Spanish Lopes Gallo family and thus a kinsman of the king of Spain's factor in Antwerp, Juan Lopes Gallo, and that he was born in 1525. This would mean that he entered Coimbra University at the age of thirteen. His enrolment there makes it clear that he was a son of Dr Antonio Lopes, physician to King Jo?o III of Portugal, whereas the Lopes Gallo family were subjects of Spain. The Ruy Lopes Gallo who studied anatomy at Salamanca must have been another man. Bernardo Luis is correctly described as the brother-in-law of Dr Hector Nunes, but then mistakenly said to be brother-in-law of Dr Lopes, which he was not. However, these are minor mistakes and the book is a valuable addition to the history of the subject. The author then speculates as to the date of the writing of The Merchant of Venice. On 8 October 1594 Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, sought the Lord Mayor's consent for his company of actors, headed by William Shakespeare, to perform at the Cross Keys Inn in Gracechurch Street. Meanwhile, at The Rose in Southwark, the 'Admiral's Men' revived and staged Christopher Marlowe's play, The Jew of Malta, to cash in on popular revulsion that Lopes might have betrayed the queen by plotting her death. They alternated it with a play called The Venetian Comedy. The Merchant of Venice seems to have been written after this to win back audiences from The Rose, but when? It was mentioned in a Francis Meres' Palas Tamia in 1598 and includes references to events in 1596, but did Shakespeare write in 1594 or 1595 or 1596? The author poses the ques? tion but the evidence does not permit one to give a full answer. Edgar Samuel 220</page></plain_text>