1st Edition

Pathology in Practice Diseases and Dissections in Early Modern Europe

Edited By Silvia De Renzi, Marco Bresadola, Maria Conforti Copyright 2018
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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 

    Gionata Liboni 

    3. Organising Pathological Knowledge: ThĂ©ophile Bonet’s Sepulchretum and the Making of a Tradition 

    Massimo Rinaldi 

    4. The Problems of Anatomia Practica and How to Solve Them: Pathological Dissection Around 1700  

    Marco Bresadola 

    Part 2: Multiple Pathologies 

    5. Post-Mortems, Anatomical Dissections and Humoural Pathology in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries 

    Michael Stolberg 

    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 

    Maria Conforti  

    8. Frederik Ruysch, Surgical Anatomy and the Amsterdam Republic of Medicine 

    Rina Knoeff 

    Part 3: Productive Dialogues 

    9. Pre- and Post-Mortem Inquiries: Assessing Poisoning in the Law Courts of Sixteenth-Century Rome 

    Elisa Andretta 

    10. Dissecting Pain: Patients, Families and Medical Expertise in Early Modern Germany 

    Annemarie Kinzelbach 

    11. Therapeutic Post-Mortems in and Around Eighteenth-Century Geneva 

    Philip Rieder


    Silvia De Renzi teaches history of medicine at the Open University, UK.

    Marco Bresadola teaches history of science at the University of Ferrara, Italy, where he is director of the MA in science communication.

    Maria Conforti teaches history of medicine at Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy.