Medieval Medicine: A Reader

Medieval Medicine: A Reader

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Edited by Faith Wallis
Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2010
World Rights
592 Pages
ISBN 9781442601031
Published May 2010
Online discount: 15%
 $48.95    $41.61

Medical knowledge and practice changed profoundly during the medieval period. In this collection of over 100 primary sources, many translated for the first time, Faith Wallis reveals the dynamic world of medicine in the Middle Ages that has been largely unavailable to students and scholars. The reader includes 21 illustrations and a glossary of medical terms.

Faith Wallis is Associate Professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Department of History and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine. She is the co-editor of Medieval Science, Technology and Medicine: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2005) and the author of essays and translations on medieval science and medicine.



Part I. Medicina: Healers and Healing in Early Medieval Europe (500-1100)

Chapter One: The Fragmented Heritage of Ancient Medicine

I. The Alexandrian Curriculum in Latin Dress

1. Isidore of Seville: The Canon of Medicine
2. The Old Latin Commentary on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates
3. Teaching the Alexandrian Curriculum in Sixth-Century Italy: Agnellus of Ravenna's Commentary on Galen's On Sects
4. An Early Medieval Summary of Medical Theory: The Wisdom of the Art of Medicine

II. Medical Practices in a Changing World

5. An Encyclopedia of Practical Medicine from the Age of Justinian: Alexander of Tralles
6. Galen Enlarged for Practice: Pseudo-Galen, Liber tertius on Pneumonia and Pleurisy
7. Echoes of Methodism: "Aurelius" on Rabies
8. Medical Self-Help for the Gentleman Traveler: The Medicine and Natural Remedies of "Pliny"
9. A Late Antique Estate-Holder's Manual of Home Remedies
10. The Doctor as Connoisseur of Pulses and Urines
11. Prognosis and Prophecy

Chapter Two: Christianity, Disease, and Medicine

I. Saints as Healers

12. A Sixth-Century Byzantine Saint Dispenses Medical Advice: Theodore of Sykeon
13. The Medical World of Gregory of Tours: Plagues, Doctors, and Saints
14. A Reluctant Bishop-Healer: John of Beverley
15. A Carolingian Therapeutic Passion of Saints Cosmas and Damian

II. Rituals of Healing

16. St Sigismund, Patron of Sufferers from Fever
17. "Prayers to the Earth and All Herbs"

Chapter Three: Medicine in Early Medieval Courts and Cloisters

I. The Doctor at Court

18. The Court Physician in Ostrogothic Italy
19. Dietary Advice for a Merovingian King
20. Alcuin on the Doctors at Charlemagne's Court

II. Monastic Medicine in the Early Medieval West

21. The Care of the Sick at the Monastery of Vivarium
22. Medical Injunctions in the Rule of St Benedict
23. A Monastic Defense of Medicine against Rigorist Critics: The Lorsch Leechbook
24. The Plan of St Gall: Medical Facilities within an Ideal Monastery
25. Medicine, Morality, and Meditation in a Monastic Herb-Garden: Walahfrid Strabo's The Little Garden

III. The Medical Networks of Missionaries and Bishops

26. The Medical Networks of Eighth-Century Anglo-Saxon Missionaries
27. Bishop Pardulus of Laon Dispenses Medical Advice
28. Elias of Jerusalem Sends a Prescription to King Alfred of Wessex
29. Letters of Medical Advice from Bishop Fulbert of Chartres and His Circle

Chapter Four: A Regional Case Study: Medicine in Anglo-Saxon England

30. Bald's Leechbook and Leechbook III

Part II. Physica: The Advent and Impact of Academic Medicine (1100-1500)

Chapter Five: Salerno: Medicine's "Theoretical Turn" and the Rationalization of Practice

31. Tenth-Century Medicine: The Testimony of Richer of Rheims
32. Constantine the African: The Romance of Translating Arabic Medicine
33. Medical Theory and the Formation of the Articella (1): The Isagoge of Joannitius
34. Medical Theory and the Formation of the Articella (2): Bartholomaeus of Salerno Comments on the Isagoge
35. Salernitan Anatomy: The Second Salernitan Demonstration
36. The Practice of Pharmacy Rationalized
37. The Practice of Therapeutics Rationalized: The Practice of Medicine by Bartholomaeus of Salerno
38. The Practice of Surgery Rationalized: The Surgery of Roger Frugard
39. The Salernitan Tradition of Gynecology: The Trotula

Chapter Six: Via scolaris: Medicine in the University

I. Faculties and Curricula

40. From Philosophy to Physic: Paris from the Late Twelfth Century to the Late Thirteenth Century
41. Montpellier and the "New Galen"
42. The "University of Arts and Medicine" at Bologna

II. Medical Scholasticism in Action: Authoritative Texts and Academic Commentaries

43. Is Medicine a Science? (1) Avicenna and His Commentator Gentile of Foligno
44. Is Medicine a Science? (2) Arnau of Vilanova Argues that Medicine Transcends Theory
45. Is Medicine a Science? (3) Henri of Mondeville on Progress in Medicine
46. The Scholastic Quaestio: Aristotle vs. Galen on the Generation of the Embryo
47. Academic Dissection as "Material Commentary" (1): Mondino de'Liuzzi
48. Academic Dissection as "Material Commentary" (2): Anatomical Illustration
49. Scholastic Medicine Popularized: Bartholomaeus Anglicus on Diseases of the Head and of the Mind

Chapter Seven: Theory and Practice in Scholastic Medicine

50. Signs and Diagnosis (1): Gilles of Corbeil on Urines
51. Signs and Diagnosis (2): Epitome on Pulses
52. Causes: The Case of Epilepsy
53. Scholastic Therapeutics (1): Rhazes, Book for Almansor
54. Scholastic Therapeutics (2) John of Gaddesden on Smallpox
55. Scholastic Pharmacology: Bernard of Gordon
56. A Primer on Bloodletting (1): Lanfranc of Milan's Scholastic Phlebotomy
57. A Primer on Bloodletting (2): The "Sign Man": An Astrological Guide to Phlebotomy
58. Is Surgery a Science? (1): Lanfranc of Milan Defends the Intellectual Dignity of Surgery
59. Is Surgery a Science? (2): Henri of Mondeville Defends the Scientific Credentials of Surgery
60. Is Surgery a Science? (3): Guy of Chauliac's History of Surgery
61. A Surgical Sampler (1): Guy of Chauliac on the Treatment of Wounds
62. A Surgical Sampler (2): Teodorico Borgognoni and the New Surgical Diseases
63. A Surgical Sampler (3): Ophthalmic Surgery
64. A Surgical Sampler (4): Surgical Anesthesia?

Chapter Eight: Contested Frontiers of Scholastic Medicine: Medical Astrology and Medical Alchemy

65. Panacea or Problem? (1): The Case for Medical Astrology
66. Panacea or Problem? (2): Jacques Despars's Reservations about Medical Astrology
67. Roger Bacon: Alchemy and the Medical Payoff of "Experimental Science"
68. Bisticius: A Florentine Goldsmith and Medical Alchemist

Part III. Medicine and Society (1100-1500)

Chapter Nine: What is Disease? What is Illness? Doctors' Dilemmas and the Meaning of Suffering

69. Interpreting Symptoms: The Difficult Case of Leprosy
70. Metaphor and Malignancy: The Difficult Case of Cancer (1): Jean of Tournemire Diagnoses His Daughter's Breast Cancer and Receives Divine Medical Aid
71. Metaphor and Malignancy: The Difficult Case of Cancer (2): Guillaume Boucher Treats a Parisian Lady with Breast Cancer
72. The Enigma of Mental Illness
73. Prophecy and Healing: The Meaning of Illness According to Hildegard of Bingen

Chapter Ten: Who Can Help? Physicians, "Empirics," and the Spectrum of Practitioners

74. Should Clergy and Monks Practice Medicine?
75. The Faculty of Medicine of Paris vs. Jacopa Felicie
76. The Faculty of Medicine of Paris vs. Jean Domremi
77. Jewish Doctors: The Case of Provence

Chapter Eleven: What Can They Do? Clinical Encounters in Medieval Europe

78. The Doctor at the Bedside (1): Precept According to Archimatthaeus
79. The Doctor at the Bedside (2): Precept According to Arnau of Vilanova
80. The Doctor at the Bedside (3): Practice Illustrated by Guillaume Boucher
81. Tried and True: Medical Experimenta ("Proven Remedies") by Arnau of Vilanova
82. Customized Therapeutics: The Medieval Medical Consilium (1)
83. Customized Therapeutics: The Medieval Medical Consilium (2): Gentile of Foligno
84. The Special Challenges of Plague (1): The Report of the Paris Medical Faculty, October 1348
85. The Special Challenges of Plague (2): Guy of Chauliac on the Black Death
86. The Special Challenges of Plague (3): John of Burgundy's Treatise on the Epidemic

Chapter Twelve: The Ethics of Medical Care (1): Conscience and the Law

87. Professional Character in the Early Middle Ages: Variations on Hippocratic Themes
88. Ethics of Care in the Early Middle Ages: Christian Reflections
89. Professional Conduct in the Later Middle Ages: From Character to Code
90. Licensing and Accountability (1): Malpractice in Crusader Palestine
91. Licensing and Accountability (2): Legislation Governing Doctors in the Thirteenth-Century Kingdom of Sicily
92. Licensing and Accountability (3): Examining and Supervising Practitioners in Fourteenth-Century Valencia
93. John Arderne's Advice on How to Determine the Fee, and Other Matters of Medical Etiquette

Chapter Thirteen: The Ethics of Medical Care (2): Hospitals and the Provision of Charity

94. The Organization and Ethos of a Medieval Hospital (1): The Jerusalem Hospital
95. The Organization and Ethos of a Medieval Hospital (2): The Hôtel-Dieu in Paris
96. The Organization and Ethos of a Medieval Hospital (3): A Twelfth-Century English Leper Hospital
97. Medical Care in a Medieval Hospital (1): The Jerusalem Hospital
98. Medical Care in a Medieval Hospital (2): John of Mirfield at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London

Chapter Fourteen: The Cultivation of Health: Lifestyle, Regimen, and the Medical Self

99. Lifestyle Advice for All (1): The Salerno Regimen of Health
100. Lifestyle Advice for All (2): Aldobrandino of Siena on Health throughout the Life Cycle
101. Lifestyle Advice, Customized (1): The Army on Campaign
102. Lifestyle Advice, Customized (2): A Physician of Valencia Advises His Sons, Who Are Studying in Toulouse
103. Medicalizing the Table and the Home: The Tacuinum sanitatis
104. Medicalizing Sex: Constantine the African

Chapter Fifteen: Satires and Critiques of Medicine

105. Dr Galen and Burnel the Ass
106. Petrarch Lashes Out against the Doctors
107. The Doctor as Comic Relief in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament


Index of Topics


Medieval Medicine: A Reader presents a welcome collection of primary sources on the theories and practices of medicine in medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. No comprehensive collection like this has been available before. Covering aspects of the professional training and practice of medicine, the intersections with law and the development of ethical codes, the volume is particularly useful for its rich collection of materials from the early Middle Ages, which have not been well represented in studies of medieval medicine. With helpful introductions that come from long experience teaching on the subject, Faith Wallis's collection will be a boon to any teacher or student engaging for the first time with medieval European medical history.

Monica Green, Arizona State University

Scholarship in recent decades has greatly broadened our understanding of the ways people in the Middle Ages perceived their bodies, their illnesses, and their responses to illnesses. Access to original texts has been, until now, largely confined to specialists. Wallis performs the great service of making these writings accessible through accurate and graceful translations.

Linda Ehrsam Voigts, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Rich and refreshing! The material ranges from academic exposition to clinical advice, from riveting narrative to poignant correspondence, and from piety to satire. The readings are given in full, rather than excerpted. Lucid introductions cover the spectrum of the entire textbook, without ever becoming 'textbookish,' and serious analysis is leavened by sensible asides and keen wit. The readings and comments are perfectly matched in celebrating the vibrant sanitas of medieval medicine.

Luke Demaitre, University of Virginia

This collection of relevant texts in the field of medieval medicine proves to be enormously helpful for those who are in need of a good anthology for a class on the history of medicine in the Middle Ages.


A truly rewarding work, worth acquiring not only by scholars and teachers of medieval medicine in particular but more broadly by anyone teaching in the field of medieval European history and society. It will also make for compelling reading to anyone curious to explore the sheer range and variety of European medicine in a time of ferment, fascinating intercultural discourse, and far-reaching change.

The Medieval Review

The excellent final product seems to witness years of long work in the testing ground of the classroom. The result is an original and lively collection of medieval texts in modern English about and around medicine, one that also conveys effectively the social complexity and intellectual subtlety of the subject. The collection is an excellent and comprehensive overview both for students and scholars that shows vividly what medicine was for medieval actors and what it is today for historians of medieval medicine.

Social History of Medicine