Sources and Problems in Renaissance Medicine

Sources and Problems in Renaissance Medicine

Rewriting the History of Western Medicine

Vivian Nutton

15 March 2022 – 5 PM (CET)

Although many aspects of the history of medicine in the late renaissance have been well covered and are familiar to all medical historians, the standard approach has until recently been narrowly focussed on developments in Nothern Italy, France, Paracelsus, and, for English readers, London, and on the rise and almost immediate fall of Galenism.
This lecture explains the rationale behind my new survey of history in the period, which relies on a wide range of primary and unfamiliar texts drawn from across Europe from Moldavia to Portugal. It considers the consequences for medicine of the opening up of Europe to the wider world, as well as the results of the ever-hardening religious divide, including the fate of Arabic medicine in Iberia.
It considers the consequences for medicine of the opening up of Europe to the wider world, as well as the results of the ever-hardening religious divide, including the fate of Arabic medicine in Iberia.
I stress the importance of printing, which is balanced by an improved postal service that facilitated the spread of medical ideas, not least in Germany, which has been largely forgotten by Anglophone historians until recently.
In attempting to give an idea of what was typical, I introduce many figures familiar to contemporaries but almost forgotten today, such as Johann Crato or Pieter van Foreest, as well as accounts of less successful practitioners.
I also devote paricular attention to university medicine (anatomy and new ideas within Galenism) and I look at careers beyond the university, including the “peregrinatio academica”.This lecture will then explain some of the major theses of my forthcoming book: “Renaissance Medicine. A Short history of European Medicine in the Sixteenth Century and will suggest where new research might modify them.

About the Speaker ...

Vivian Nutton is an Emeritus Professor at the Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London, and current President of the Centre for the Study of Medicine and the Body in the Renaissance (CSMBR).

Nutton acquired a BA in Classics at Cambridge in 1965 and subsequently taught there as a Fellow of Selwyn College (1967–77). He received his PhD in 1970.

Since 1977 he has worked at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine as a Lecturer, and since 1993 as Professor.

He is a member of several international learned societies and a Fellow of the British Academy. Since 2015 he has worked at I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (1st MSMU).

Prof. Nutton’s main field of research is the Greek physician Galen. Beyond that, his work comprises the whole of the ancient history of medicine and its reception history, in particular during the Renaissance and in the Muslim world.

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