1st Edition

Renaissance Medicine A Short History of European Medicine in the Sixteenth Century

By Vivian Nutton Copyright 2022
    418 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    418 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume offers a comprehensive historical survey of medicine in sixteenth-century Europe and examines both medical theories and practices within their intellectual and social context.

    Nutton investigates the changes brought about in medicine by the opening-up of the European world to new drugs and new diseases, such as syphilis and the Sweat, and by the development of printing and more efficient means of communication. Chapters examine how civic institutions such as Health Boards, hospitals, town doctors and healers became more significant in the fight against epidemic disease, and special attention is given to the role of women and domestic medicine. The final section, on beliefs, explores the revised Galenism of academic medicine, including a new emphasis on anatomy and its most vocal antagonists, Paracelsians. The volume concludes by considering the effect of religious changes on medicine, including the marginalisation, and often expulsion, of non-Christian practitioners.

    Based on a wide reading of primary sources from literature and art across Europe, Renaissance Medicine is an invaluable resource for students and scholars of the history of medicine and disease in the sixteenth century.

    Introduction  Part 1: Contexts  1. New Lands, New Drugs and New Diseases  2. Protecting the Health of the City  3. Medical Communications: Print and the Post  4. The Rediscovery of Ancient Medicine  Part 2: People  5. The Kaleidoscope of Healing 1: Physicians  6. The Kaleidoscope of Healing 2: Surgeons, Apothecaries and Charlatans  7. On the Margins of Medical History: Women and Patients  Part 3: Beliefs  8. Learned Medicine  9. Anatomy – the Touchstone of Modernity  10. Paracelsus and Paracelsianiam  11. Religion and Medicine  Conclusion


    Vivian Nutton FBA is emeritus professor of the History of Medicine at UCL. He has written widely on pre-modern medicine. His many books include Galen, a Thinking Doctor in Imperial Rome, Routledge, 2020. He is at present revising his Ancient Medicine (2nd edition, Routledge, 2013).

    ‘This is an enormously rich and well-judged narrative which is given force and interest though the vividly recounted anecdotes and biographical sketches. Given its comprehensiveness, it would be churlish to point to yet other areas (medical ethics, for example, or the interaction of medicine and law) that are not given separate treatment, No-one else could have written a history such as this, which stands as a tribute to its author’s extraordinary linguistic competence, voracious appetite for archives and books, and desire to communicate to his readers the excitement and commitment that he himself has found in a lifetime of productive study in medical history.’

    Ian Maclean, University of St Andrews, UK ANNALS OF SCIENCE, https://doi.org/10.1080/00033790.2022.2130979

    ‘Professor Vivian Nutton’s Renaissance Medicine is an astonishing achievement. Deeply and widely read in primary sources as well as in the wealth of secondary literature that has been generated in the field of medical history over the years, Nutton surveys the entire world of sixteenth-century European medicine. His book is also a global history, tracking the impact of new drugs and diseases on European medicine and populations, stemming from both East and West – the Indies and the Americas – in the late renaissance. Although modestly sub-titled "A Short History," Renaissance Medicine represents a compendious and invaluable introduction to a vast topic which will become the first port of call not just for students and academics working in the field of medical history, but for anybody keen to explore the wider culture of ideas in the sixteenth-century.’

    Jonathan Sawday, Saint Louis University, USA

    ‘Vivian Nutton has written a magisterial survey of the lively world of Renaissance medicine. Drawing on sources from all over Europe (and with a particular focus on the large German-speaking territories), he looks at the major debates and developments - among them the crucial role of Galenism as well as the new horizons and challenges, from the recovery of ancient medical theories and the rise of neoplatonic ideas to the encounter with new diseases and exotic drugs and the laborious work at the dissection table. A must-read for anyone interested in this formative period in the history of Western medicine.’

    Michael Stolberg, University of Würzburg, Germany