#72 The Century of the Jewish Doctor

For centuries, Jewish communities were known for producing doctors of the highest order. Even in the most profound climates of anti-semitism, kings and nobles sought the care of Jewish physicians. In this podcast episode, David examines the period he refers to as the “century of the Jewish doctor” for its examples of remarkable figures who lead the way in medical treatment and research.

Watch the lecture here.

In this fascinating Jewish history lecture, David explores the lives and contributions of four outstanding doctors of the 16th century:

  • Moses Hamon
  • Garcia D’Orta
  • Amato Lusitano
  • Roderigo Lopez.

In doing so, he also discusses:

  • the schools of medicine which trained Jewish physicians and the circumstances under which this occurred
  • the reasons behind the demand for Jewish physicians by monarchs across Europe and Asia
  • Jewish contributions to anatomy, herbalism, naturalism, infectious disease, and the synthetisation of eastern and western medicine in the 16th century
  • the continuing impact of the Inquisition on Jewish life and the precarious existence of ‘new’ Christians
  • the embrace of Jewish refugees from the Iberian Peninsula by the Ottoman Empire
  • the expansion of India as a destination for Jews and the spectre of the Portuguese Inquisition.


David delivered this Zoom talk in 2020 for the Australasian Jewish Medical Federation.

Images shown in the course of the film:

David Solomon’s timeline of the 16th century.

Moshe Hamon – Etching of Doctor Moses Amon by 16th century French diplomat Nicolas de Nicolay – as found at https://blog.nli.org.il/en/lbh-amon/

Statue of Garcia de Orta by Martins Correia at the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Lisbon. Available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 3.0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garcia_de_Orta#/media/File:Martins_Correia_Monumento_a_Garcia_de_Orta_7666.jp

Martin Afonso de Souza by Benedito Calixto. Public domain.