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Since the 1960s, at a time when medicine was transforming Western conceptions of, and approaches to, the end of life, historians, historians of medicine, and specialists of religious studies have delved into death from a historical perspective. In the wake of historiens de la mentalité like Philippe Ariès and Michel Vovelle, studies commonly emphasise the limited autonomy of medicine vis-à-vis religion in conceptualising death and care for the dying. Only in the late eighteenth century, with Enlightenment culture and the secularization of society, were physicians supposedly encouraged to adopt a more active stance on the end of life. The aim of this paper is to survey recent scholarship that revisits the interaction of medicine and religion at the deathbed. In doing so, it presents an alternative to the rather dichotomous interpretation of the rise of medicine going hand in hand with the downfall of religion. It points to problems and sources that might be reconsidered in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of the interaction and reciprocal developments of medicine and religion in early modern Europe.

Open Access
In: European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health
Volume Editor:
Medicine and the Inquisition offers a wide-ranging and nuanced account of the role played by the Roman, Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions in shaping medical learning and practice in the period from 1500 to 1850.
Until now, learned medicine has remained a secondary subject in scholarship on Inquisitions. This volume delves into physicians’ contributions to the inquisitorial machinery as well as the persecution of medical practitioners and the censorship of books of medicine.
Although they are commonly depicted as all-pervasive systems of repression, the Inquisitions emerge from these essays as complex institutions. Authors investigate how boundaries between the medical and the religious were negotiated and transgressed in different contexts. The book sheds new light on the intellectual and social world of early modern physicians, paying particular attention to how they complied with, and at times undermined, ecclesiastical control and the hierarchies of power in which the medical profession was embedded.

Contributors are Hervé Baudry, Bradford A. Bouley, Alessandra Celati, Maria Pia Donato, Martha Few, Guido M. Giglioni, Andrew Keitt, Hannah Marcus, and Timothy D. Walker.

This volume includes the articles originally published in Volume XXIII, Nos. 1-2 (2018) of Brill's journal Early Science and Medicine with one additional chapter by Timothy D. Walker and an updated introduction.

The article treats the Academy of the Linceans in the early nineteenth century, and more particularly during the Napoleonic domination of Rome in 1809-14.

For the French regime, the Academy was instrumental to turning intellectuals into notables; pursuing the advancement of knowledge; stimulating industry; fostering secularization and orientating public opinion. But these goals did not always harmonize one with the other. Moreover, the local agenda was subordinated to strategic and ideological considerations pertaining to the organization of the Empire, relations with the Papacy, and internal politics. Hence, support to the Academy was subject to changes and contradictions. Within the Empire, the small local scientific elite found a place within international networks of science. Men of science increased their visibility and social standing, and greater symbolic and material resources were granted to the practice of science. The Academy, however, was left in the unclear status of a semi-public establishment, and it eventually imploded after the Restoration.

The article analyses the Academy’s scientific activity and its role in public life, focusing on material history as a key element to understand the ambiguous nature of Roman scientific institutions both under the papal government and the French regime.

In: Nuncius


title SUMMARY /title The essay aims at addressing the debates on corpuscular theories in Rome within the context of the political and religious tensions of the late 17th century. Documents in the archives of the Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede allow us to outline the changing attitudes of the Church of Rome towards atomistic philosophy and to highlight the factional clashes within Roman institutions on the issue. These dynamics gave way to the Congresso Medico Romano of G. Brasavola and G.M. Lancisi, an academy which soon became the promoting agent of an eclectic corpuscular medicine. The Holy Office put the success of the moderns into question in 1690, after Alexander VIII had come to the throne. The attack was part of a general repression of atomism (also in Naples and Florence) but also of quietism and freethinking. Despite the crisis, the moderns were able to bind their corpuscularism to a strictly defined epistemological model. In the frame of the contemporary biomedical sciences, questions on the ultimate nature of atoms could be abandoned without dismissing the corpuscular theory and practice of medicine.

In: Nuncius
In: Brill's Companion to the Reception of Galen
In: Sforza Pallavicino
In: A Companion to the Early Modern Cardinal