Plague Disputes, Challenges of the ‘Universals’

Samuel K. Cohn

in Cultures of Plague

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574025
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722530 | DOI:
 						Plague Disputes, Challenges of the ‘Universals’

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter shows another side of the intellectual vitality stimulated by the 1575–8 crisis. An unprecedented denial of ‘true plague’ suddenly swept medical circles. Best known are the arguments voiced by the Paduan academic Girolamo Mercuriale, invited to Venice to diagnose the disease and which resulted in rescinding health board policies such as quarantine. Similar arguments raced through the peninsula, from Trent to Palermo, but everywhere were met head‐on with impassioned rebuttals from those within and outside the medical profession. Questioning long‐held models of medieval and renaissance medicine with admixtures of Galen, Avicenna, and God, they focused instead on what was observable to understand the causes of plague and recommend new remedies lodged in public policy.

Keywords: University of Padua; Girolamo Mercuriale; Venice; Trent; Palermo; Galen; Avicenna; God; health boards; plague; public policy

Chapter.  23896 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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