Peter Jones (University of Cambridge)
Tuesday 2nd February, 6.15pm.
Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
Compared to occupational groups like physicians, surgeons, barbers, apothecaries and empirics of various kinds, or women practitioners, very little attention has been paid by historians to the medical knowledge and practice of the mendicants in late medieval England. This is partly because the available sources for libraries and practitioners under-represent mendicants, while Langland and Chaucer depict friars as lecherous opportunists who take advantage of their access to women in the household. Moreover the ‘frater medicus’ tending his brethren in the convent was on the way out in the 14th century, we have learnt, as lay practitioners were hired to provide medical care. This paper will make the case for reinstating the friars as important contributors to medical knowledge and practice directed at lay patients in late medieval England, and will investigate the friars’ contributions to gynaecology, alchemy and medical astrology. What is more, the friars seem to have pioneered a wiki-type encyclopaedia of medical knowledge compiled between 1416 and 1425 and later used and developed by the great court physician John Argentein.
More info here: http://blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2016/01/the-medicine-of-the-friars-in-late-medieval-england/