Climate, fever, and medicine before 1700

Mark Harrison

in Medicine in an age of Commerce and Empire

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577736
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595196 | DOI:
Climate, fever, and medicine before 1700

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The first chapter of Part I begins by taking stock of European theories of fever, and of the importance of the work of the Hippocratic revival, particularly as reflected in the work of Sydenham, Boerhaave, and Hoffman. The discussion then turns to medical work in the tropical colonies during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, placing British medicine in the context of earlier work by the Portuguese and Dutch. The chapter examines both the East and the West Indies. It shows the growing importance of climate and morbid anatomy in theories of disease and how ideas about disease had a bearing on concepts of race. The strongly natural‐historical orientation of colonial practice is emphasized, along with its connections to the politics of medical reform in Britain.

Keywords: Herman Boerhaave; climate; Dutch East India Company; Hippocrates; morbid anatomy; natural history; Portuguese; race; Thomas Sydenham

Chapter.  9350 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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