Medieval Medicine

Peregrine Horden

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Medieval Medicine

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  • History
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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European scholastic medicine, the primary form of medieval medicine, was distinct from that of antiquity, despite its thorough-going Galenism. This article looks more closely at the scholarship that has made this re-evaluation possible. The practical dimension of scholastic medicine — as evident in the resolution of conflicts between Galen and Aristotle as in discussions of specific drugs — has been fully revealed in this newer historiography. It discusses medicine as essentially a verbal and gestural performance that aims to leave patients ‘satisfied’ and the answer to these questions comes from the theoretical writings that are the main material deposit of all the rhetoric and from adopting the patient's perspective. The principal achievements thus far of the historiography of medieval medicine have been to assess many of the main texts on their own terms, avoiding reference to biomedicine, and giving the texts first an intellectual context and then, more recently, a social one.

Keywords: medieval medicine; scholastic medicine; historiography; rhetoric; patient's perspective

Article.  10024 words. 

Subjects: History ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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