lundi 3 mars 2014

Au lit des mourants

Ethics and etiquette at the deathbed in early modern medicine: a second look

Maria-Pia Donato (Università di Cagliari / I.H.M.C. Paris)

2013-14 History of Pre-Modern Medicine seminar series 

Tuesday, 4th March.
Doors at 6pm prompt, seminar will start at 6.15pm.
Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE (

Abstract: In my paper I will explore medical and religious attitudes towards the dying in early modern Catholic Europe. There is a broad consensus among historians that the eighteenth century witnessed a profound alteration in the collective stance on life, health and death, and that the middle of the century saw the birth of a new scientific discourse on death, along with a political and philanthropic willingness to have a positive impact on people's lives. Secularisation and the rejection of fatalism are commonly regarded as the main features of the changing attitude towards death. I will argue that a shift in the way physicians’ approached death occurred and that the obligation of physicians to intervene at the end of life was formulated earlier than is generally thought. Interestingly, though, the roots of this change are to be found in religion as much as in medicine. The new stance is connected to a shift in Catholic theology and piety and the rise of Rigorism in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. (

The seminars in the series are focused on pre-modern medicine, which we take to cover European and non-European history before the 20th century (antiquity, medieval and early modern history, some elements of 19th-century medicine).

Organising Committee: Elma Brenner (Wellcome Library), Michael Brown (Roehampton), Elena Carrera (QMUL), Sandra Cavallo (RHUL), John Henderson (BirkbeckUL), Colin Jones (QMUL), William MacLehose (UCL, convenor), Anna Maerker (KCL), Christelle Rabier (LSE), Patrick Wallis (LSE), Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Goldsmiths).

Further details on the seminar series are available here:

Enquiries to Ross MacFarlane (Wellcome Library: or Dr Bill Maclehose (UCL:

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