Elizabeth I had people of Jewish origin in her personal circle, such as the famous physician
Rodrigo Lopez, who was a relative of an influential Jew called Álvaro Mendes.
Mendes was born in Portugal, and later took refuge in the Ottoman Empire, where he
was known as Salomon ibn Ya’ish; we know that he exchanged correspondence with
Elizabeth I, and the queen always favoured him in her missives to Sultan Murad III. The
queen knew that Mendes received, while a Christian, a knighthood in the Order of
Santiago, since she dubbed him ‘Eques’ in her correspondence. So even if ibn Ya’ish
lived exiled in the Ottoman Empire, Elizabeth I still considered him a ‘Westerner’. The
question that arises is: to what extent did this pragmatic diplomacy of Elizabeth I with
Islamic states where some ‘Western’ Jews appear as pivotal elements shape their image
in Elizabethan England, especially in the eclectic circles in which Shakespeare lived?