Category Archives: Blog posts

Romanticism in the Dissecting Room

For centuries the need for the surgeon to learn more of the anatomy of the human body and to practice his art has required students of medicine to examine and dissect the bodies of the dead – obtained legally or otherwise – in private schools or, from the mid-eighteenth century, public hospitals. The work of …

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Necessary Compounds: Medicines Explained

At the end of his English Physician (a work that appeared in many editions from 1652), the prolific author and apothecary Nicholas Culpeper included a section explaining what, exactly, was meant by the various compounds which physicians prescribed. Compounds were the opposite of remedies known as ‘simples’ or medicines made from herbs in their natural …

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Gunpowder

It is that time of year when the leaves begin to turn a beautiful mixture of red and golds, and on the air is filled with the smell of bonfires. This year the BBC have preceded the 5th November with the excellent series ‘Gunpowder’ retelling the story of the plot to blow up the Houses of …

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The Countess, the Gout and the Spider

Readers of our book Maladies and Medicine will be familiar with the fable of the gout and the spider (we have also blogged about it before). It was a fable which explained why the rich were thought to be more likely to suffer from gout than the poor. In 1713 the fable was reworked as …

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Describing Disappointment

Patients voices can be rather rare in the printed literature produced in early modern England. Case notes are, obviously, from the perspective of the medical practitioner.We therefore get a sense of when things have failed to work, but without the patients own explanations of how they felt about these failures. For example, in William Salmon’s …

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