- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; 1st Edition edition (25 May 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0862995981
- ISBN-13: 978-0862995980
- Package Dimensions: 25.1 x 16.5 x 2.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Medicine and Society in Later Medieval England (Social History) Hardcover – 25 May 1995
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The author takes a systematic approach - first describing the theological component of health and medicine as understood in the area; then ideas about the body; the influence of astrology and the occult on diagnosis and treatment; professionalized medicine - surgery, physicians, and apothecaries; and then two chapters on women and medicine.
The author does a very good job of weaving several themes - competing priorities of the religious, royal, and professional establishments; professional jealousies; professional codes of conduct and quality; influence of continental and Eastern medicine; education; compensation; satire; and more. She employs manuscript evidence to great effect and the illustration material (in terms of relevance and quality of reproduction) is outstanding. The "Further Reading" at the end provides some additional avenues of research, and - as important - judicious advice on sources to avoid. There are hints at many interesting subjects and tangents, not the list of which was the author's own inspiration for the book - her research into the settlement of lawsuits - indeed, mentions of malpractice litigation throughout the book made for very interesting reading.
Only a few minor criticisms kept me from giving this 5 stars:
a) the extensive use of manuscript excerpts in the original language - the author indicates she did this to obtain "feeling of immediacy" and an "authentic voice" - agreed - and there is quite a bit of charm to seeing the original text - but for a "lay" reader, such as myself, enough of the excerpts were nearly indecipherable and made reading the book less enjoyable.
b) the author draws a straight line from the ancients (e.g., Galen) to the late medieval ages in terms of medical theory (and - given my knowledge of Civil War-era medicine, a straight line from the late middle ages to the 19th century, in some cases) but comments very little on the preceding eras and improvements made in the late medieval ages, say over the High Middle Ages.
c) she does spend a bit too much time in my opinion on matters where there might be a lot of extant evidence - e.g., monetary compensation of surgeons and physicians by the Court or nobles - but for which one or two examples would do.
But these are minor complaints given the overall quality of the book - Highly Recommended
The writing is clear and, despite being an academic text, enjoyable to read. Each chapter has a large list of endnotes providing references to other resources for further investigation.
Worth every penny and every second.
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