History of Medicine

Remembering Eliahu De Luna Montalto (1567–1616)

George Moshe Weisz and Donatella Lippi


Born in Portugal and the son of Marranos (Christianized Jews from Spain), Eliahu de Luna Montalto lived during a particularly harsh period for the Jewish people. Throughout Europe, the situation for Jews was unfavorable; laws had been passed forbidding them to live in England for the past 300 years, and for the past 200 years in France. Additionally, in France, while Jews were permitted to study at some universities, the practice of medicine was forbidden to them. It is within this context that Eliahu de Luna Montalto, who had returned to his original faith (Judaism), was recruited to the French court. This paper pays tribute to Montalto’s life and medical practice—so exemplary that the Queen of France would ask Montalto to serve at the court and receive Papal permission for Montalto openly to observe his faith as a Jew, this despite the objections of the King of France.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2017;8(1):e0010