Negotiating the French Pox in Early Modern Germany: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Negotiating the French Pox in Early Modern Germany

1st Edition

By Claudia Stein


254 pages

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Paperback: 9781138253230
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9780754660088
pub: 2009-02-28
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pub: 2016-12-05
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This book explores the identity of the 'French disease' (alias the 'French pox' or 'Morbus Gallicus') in the German Imperial city of Augsburg between 1495 and 1630. Rejecting the imposition of modern conceptions of disease upon the past, it reveals how early modern medical theory facilitated enormous flexibility in defining disease, and how disease identification was a local matter, and one of constant negotiation and renegotiation. Drawing on a wealth of primary source material this work combines concern with the conceptualisation of the disease with its practical application, and argues for the inseparability of both. It focuses on how theoretical understanding of the pox shaped the various therapeutic reactions, and vice versa. It exemplifies this in the specific socio-cultural context of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Augsburg, through an investigation of the city's municipal and private pox hospitals. Combining medical, religious, economic, municipal and institutional history this book offers a fascinating insight into how early modern society came to terms with disease both in a practical and theoretical sense. This revised English translation of Dr Stein's original German book adds new layers of understanding to a fascinating but complex subject.


’Anglophone historians will welcome the updated translation of Claudia Stein’s 2003 Die Behandlung der Franzosenkrankheit in der Frühen Neuzeit am Beispiel Augsburgs, to date the most thorough study of the French pox in early modern Germany. It fills a major gap in early modern English language scholarship where research on the pox outside of Italy and England has been relatively sparse.’ Social History of Medicine ’Overall, this is a thoughtful and highly readable study, which persuasively makes a number of arguments of broader significance for historians of medicine. Stein reminds us that diseases are changeable and that they were defined flexibly in early modern Europe, and brings welcome attention to the often overshadowed significance of the diagnostic act. A significant conclusion is that the pox had a less dramatic impact”both on society and on medical theory and practice”than is often claimed. But perhaps this study’s most important achievement is its successful integration of the history of the body and the history of disease: a model which others will no doubt follow.’ German History ’Negotiating the French Pox is an extraordinary example of how practical, administrative, and narrative accounts of illness can be read along with works of medical theory to construct a rich and complex view of Renaissance illness and healing.’ Renaissance Quarterly ’… an indispensable study to approach the highly relevant part of the early socio-cultural history of the French pox that took place in German lands and was played by German actors.’ Medical History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; What was the French pox?; Sickness and poverty in 16th-century Augsburg; Negotiating the pox; Treating the pox; Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr Claudia Stein, Department of History, University of Warwick, UK

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