Civic Medicine: Physician, Polity, and Pen in Early Modern Europe, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Civic Medicine

Physician, Polity, and Pen in Early Modern Europe, 1st Edition

Edited by J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Annemarie Kinzelbach, Ruth Schilling


316 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472453587
pub: 2019-08-22
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pub: 2019-07-30
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Communities great and small across Europe for eight centuries have contracted with doctors. Physicians provided citizen care, helped govern, and often led in public life. Civic Medicine stakes out this timely subject by focusing on its golden age, when cities rivaled territorial states in local and global Europe and when civic doctors were central to the rise of shared, organized written information about the human and natural world. This opens the prospect of a long history of knowledge and action shaped more by community and responsibility than market or state, exchange or power.


"Civic Medicine offers a striking and pathbreaking perspective on medical knowledge in early modern Europe. Transcending influential approaches in which physicians and patients are viewed as caught up in the networks of the medical marketplace or else of modernising territorial states, Mendelsohn and his team focus instead on the role and activities of physicians in civic office across the continent. This provides a stimulating, holistic vision of the early modern physician and his world, now grounded in an enriched sense of community rather than the market or the state."

– Colin Jones, co-author of The Medical World of Early Modern France

"At last we are beginning to understand early modern physicians as full-fledged members of their urban polities, holding offices, taking oaths, and entering into the world of the experts who knew how to employ paper technologies. According to the authors of this volume, even the attentiveness of physicians to careful written descriptions of medical cases arose more from civic humanism than from medicalization, medical police, professionalization, the new science, or even commerce. In revisiting the history of city physicians, these studies offer new insights into medicine’s civic past."

– Harold J. Cook, author of Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age

Table of Contents

Introduction: Civic Medicine

J. Andrew Mendelsohn

1. Public Practice: The European Longue Durée of Knowing for Health and Polity

J. Andrew Mendelsohn

Part I: Scholar in Town, Scholar in Office

2. The Many Uses of Writing: A Humanist Physician in Sixteenth-Century Prague

Michael Stolberg

3. Promoting a Good Physician: Letters of Application to German Civic Authorities, 1500–1700

Sabine Schlegelmilch

4. "De Officiis": Doctors’ Oaths and Appointments in Early Modern Nuremberg

Fritz Dross

Part II: Evaluating, Reporting

5. Reporting for Action: Forms of Writing Between Medicine and Polity in Milan, 1580-1650

Laura Di Giammatteo and J. Andrew Mendelsohn

6. Negotiating on Paper: Councillors, Medical Officers, and Patients in an Early Modern City

Annemarie Kinzelbach

Part III: Documenting, Locating

7. Accountability, Autobiography, and Belonging: The Working Journal of a Sixteenth-Century Diplomatic Physician Between Venice and Damascus

Valentina Pugliano

8. A Sense of Place: Town Physicians and the Resources of Locality in Early Modern Medicine

Gianna Pomata

9. Physical City: A Royal Physician’s Warsaw

Ruth Schilling

Part IV: Translating, Translocating

10. Transformative Itineraries and Communities of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: The Case of Lazare Rivière’s The Practice of Physick

Elaine Leong

11. Trading Information: The City of Nuremberg and the Birth of a Latin Medical Weekly

Annemarie Kinzelbach and Marion Maria Ruisinger

About the Editors

J. Andrew Mendelsohn is Reader in History of Science and Medicine in the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London, having previously taught at Imperial College London.

Annemarie Kinzelbach has published extensively on medicine, health, and society in early modern Germany.

Ruth Schilling trained in early modern urban history and is Junior Professor for the History of Science at the University of Bremen and scientific coordinator of exhibitions and research at the German Maritime Museum.

About the Series

The History of Medicine in Context

An interest in medicine is one of the constants that re-occurs throughout history. From the earliest times, man has sought ways to combat the myriad of diseases and ailments that afflict the human body, resulting in a number of evolving and often competing philosophies and practices whose repercussions spread far beyond the strictly medical sphere.

For more than a decade The History of Medicine in Context series has provided a unique platform for the publication of research pertaining to the study of medicine from broad social, cultural, political, religious and intellectual perspectives. Offering cutting-edge scholarship on a range of medical subjects that cross chronological, geographical and disciplinary boundaries, the series consistently challenges received views about medical history and shows how medicine has had a much more pronounced effect on western society than is often acknowledged. As medical knowledge progresses, throwing up new challenges and moral dilemmas, The History of Medicine in Context series offers the opportunity to evaluate the shifting role and practice of medicine from the long perspective, not only providing a better understanding of the past, but often an intriguing perspective on the present.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Renaissance