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Author: Michael McVaugh

Abstract

In the first half of the fourteenth century, Niccolò da Reggio translated more than fifty works by Galen from Greek into Latin, and by mid-century most if not all of them had reached the papal court at Avignon, where Guy de Chauliac praised their accuracy and cited them regularly in his Great Surgery of 1363. Yet contemporary physicians at nearby Montpellier almost never referred to them, ordinarily preferring to quote from the older Arabic-Latin translations. Examining a particular context, the ways in which urological conditions were described in the old and new versions of Galen, suggests that medical teachers and commentators may have found it difficult to give up the familiarity of the traditional language in favor of Niccolò's new terminology.

In: Early Science and Medicine
In: Evidence and Interpretation in Studies on Early Science and Medicine
In: Medicine and Space
In: Brill's Companion to the Reception of Galen
The first of these volumes offers a text of the last and greatest surgical encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (1363); the second analyzes its construction from earlier sources.
The text itself covers anatomy and the treatment of wounds, ulcers, fractures, dislocations, and a variety of other conditions and diseases, including not just surgical but medical procedures, which it discusses within a broad framework of medical (physiological and pathological) learning. In the commentary volume, the author's more than 3000 references to older medical authorities are traced to their sources and their use is discussed.
Together, the volumes illuminate the culmination of medieval surgery and its techniques in an academic setting and furnish a kind of chrestomathy of the whole range of literature known and cited in medieval medical faculties.
Editors / Translators: Gerrit Bos and Michael McVaugh
The short Latin treatise De curis puerorum is the translation of a lost Arabic original attributed (perhaps mistakenly) to the famous al-Rāzī (Rhazes); one of the rare texts on pediatrics circulating in the Middle Ages, it was so popular that it was soon re-translated into Hebrew, not once but three times! Gerrit Bos and Michael McVaugh have edited the Latin and Hebrew texts, accompanying them with an English translation and a full commentary situating the original Arabic against the medical writings available to tenth-century Islam. The contents of the work range remarkably widely, covering skin diseases, eye and ear infections, teething, vomiting and diarrhea, constipation, worms, and bladder stones, among other things, outlining their causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.
Author: Michael McVaugh

Abstract

We should not assume that medieval physicians did not take pains to found their practice upon evidence. Academic physicians at Montpellier ca. 1300 were cautious about accepting textbook claims for the powers of drugs, and tried to verify each drug's physiological effects before using it; yet they were also flexible, ready to believe that powerful new medicines might be discovered empirically that were unknown to their authorities or superficially inconsistent with existing knowledge. Likewise, physicians were careful to observe their patients closely and to try to identify the condition from which each was suffering, and when they were unsure of the nature of an illness, they feared to administer medicines lest their known effects might be harmful to the patient. Anticipating today's "evidence-based medicine," the physician's practice involved the conscientious use of current best evidence.

In: Early Science and Medicine
In: Maimonides, On the Regimen of Health