Post-mortems may have become a staple of our TV viewing, but the long history of this practice is still little known. This book provides a fresh account of the dissections that took place across early modern Europe on those who had died of a disease or in unclear circumstances. Drawing on different approaches and on sources as varied as notes taken at the dissection table, legal records and learned publications, the chapters explore how autopsies informed the understanding of pathology of all those involved. With a broad geography, including Rome, Amsterdam and Geneva, the book recaptures the lost worlds of physicians, surgeons, patients, families and civic authorities as they used corpses to understand diseases and make sense of suffering. The evidence from post-mortems was not straightforward, but between 1500 and 1750 medical practitioners rose to the challenge, proposing various solutions to the difficulties they encountered and creating a remarkable body of knowledge. The book shows the scope and diversity of this tradition and how laypeople contributed their knowledge and expectations to the wide-ranging exchanges stimulated by the opening of bodies.
Part 1: Framing the Practice
1. Pathological Dissections in Early Modern Europe: Practice and Knowledge
[Silvia De Renzi, Marco Bresadola and Maria Conforti]
2. Humanist Post-Mortems: Philology and Therapy
3. Organising Pathological Knowledge: Théophile Bonet’s Sepulchretum and the Making of a Tradition
4. The Problems of Anatomia Practica and How to Solve Them: Pathological Dissection Around 1700
Part 2: Multiple Pathologies
5. Post-Mortems, Anatomical Dissections and Humoural Pathology in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries
6. Seats and Series: Dissecting Diseases in the Seventeenth Century
[Silvia De Renzi]
7. Visible Signs, Invisible Processes: Explaining Poison in the Late Seventeenth Century
8. Frederik Ruysch, Surgical Anatomy and the Amsterdam Republic of Medicine
Part 3: Productive Dialogues
9. Pre- and Post-Mortem Inquiries: Assessing Poisoning in the Law Courts of Sixteenth-Century Rome
10. Dissecting Pain: Patients, Families and Medical Expertise in Early Modern Germany
11. Therapeutic Post-Mortems in and Around Eighteenth-Century Geneva
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.