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Per Pippin Aspaas and László Kontler

The Viennese Jesuit court astronomer Maximilian Hell was a nodal figure in the eighteenth-century circulation of knowledge. He was already famous by the time of his celebrated 1769 expedition for the observation of the transit of Venus in northern Scandinavia. However, the 1773 suppression of his order forced Hell to develop ingenious strategies of accommodation to changing international and domestic circumstances. Through a study of his career in local, regional, imperial, and global contexts, this book sheds new light on the complex relationship between the Enlightenment, Catholicism, administrative and academic reform in the Habsburg monarchy, and the practices and ends of cultivating science in the Republic of Letters around the end of the first era of the Society of Jesus.

Maria Pia Donato


In the 1690s the Roman Inquisition targeted medical circles, as they allegedly disseminated atheism under the veil of new explanations of the body. This article revisits these affairs, focussing on Rome. It argues that increased inquisitorial pressure must be set against the backdrop of struggles for hegemony in the papal curia, in which physicians were entangled. Notwithstanding such political vicissitudes, ecclesiastical control played a relevant role in shaping Italian medicine at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The article suggests that the result may have been, paradoxically, a form of un-assumed materialism, though framed within the disciplinary borders of practical medicine, which enabled physicians to re-assert their autonomy.

Guido Giglioni


The Examen de ingenios para las sciencias, published in 1575 by the Spanish physician Juan Huarte de San Juan (1529/1530-1588), was a bold attempt to apply the principles of Galenic naturalism to a better understanding of human capabilities. Inevitably, the work also touched upon a number of theological issues, especially the delicate question of the interplay between natural abilities and supernatural gifts. When the treatise was included in the Portuguese Index of 1581, and then in the Spanish Indexes of 1583 and 1584, Huarte was allowed to amend some of his positions, as is evident in the second edition published posthumously in 1594. The aim of this article is to shed light on the identity of an ‘expurgated’ book by concentrating on some of the most significant changes in the Examen triggered by the intervention of the Spanish Inquisition. It will become apparent that Huarte’s response to censorship was not acquiescence or dissembling, but active engagement with the inquisitorial challenge.

Alessandra Celati


Since the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical authorities considered medical activity worthy of their attention and control. During the Counter-Reformation, they toughened their disciplinary action, aware of the peculiarity of an ars that mixed together the cure of the body with the cure of the soul. Moreover, the authorities became increasingly suspicious of practitioners who were highly involved in the Reformation movement, and who distanced themselves from Catholicism in the epistemological premises of their work. By examining original sources from the Venetian Inquisition archive, this paper discusses the factors that put the Roman Church and the medical profession in op­­position to each other in the sixteenth century, and describes the professional solidarity put forward by physicians. It also examines the problematic relationship between doctors and the Inquisition, dealing with the former as effective agents of heretical propaganda.

Bradford A. Bouley


This paper examines the engagement of various officials and tribunals of the Roman Inquisition with the new anatomical studies of the early modern period. It argues that although inquisition officers were frequently very aware of the latest medical theories, they actively chose not to employ anatomical or medical evidence when evaluating the unusual physical symptoms that might be associated with false or affected sanctity. This attitude stands in contrast to the employment of anatomical knowledge by other ecclesiastical institutions – e.g. the Congregation of Rites – and suggests that the Inquisition held a different, and perhaps more modern, view about the relationship between natural knowledge and religion.

Andrew Keitt


This essay examines the discourse on medicine and the Inquisition in nineteenth-century Spain. It traces how liberal reformers selectively appropriated aspects of the history of Spanish medicine in the service of their contemporary political and scientific agendas, and how in doing so they contributed to the formation of new professional and national identities.

Hervé Baudry


The Tribunal of the Inquisition was established in Portugal in 1536. This paper deals with three aspects concerning medicine in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Portugal: the institution and its members, the medical practitioners, and the books. On the one hand, doctors were necessary to carry out specific duties in the life of the Inquisition. On the other hand, a significant percentage of the victims of the Inquisition were medical professionals, the overwhelming majority being New Christians accused of Judaism. Finally, as did the Roman and Spanish Inquisitions, the Portuguese Holy Office looked after the censorship of books, many of which dealt with medical matters.

Hannah Marcus


Girolamo Rossi (1539-1607) was a historian, physician, and prolific censor for the Catholic Church. This article examines Rossi’s manuscripts in Ravenna and the Vatican to explore how a physician contributed to the expurgation efforts of the Congregation of the Index in the years following the publication of the Clementine Index (1596). I argue that participating in these censorship efforts trained physicians and other lay experts to read like censors, repurposing the humanist tools of reading, excerpting, and note taking to accomplish the censorship goals of the Counter-Reformation Church.