Medicine and the Law in the Middle Ages


Editors: Wendy Turner and Sara Butler
Medicine and the Law in the Middle Ages offers fresh insight into the intersection between these two distinct disciplines. A dozen authors address this intersection within three themes: medical matters in law and administration of law, professionalization and regulation of medicine, and medicine and law in hagiography. The articles include subjects such as medical expertise at law on assault, pregnancy, rape, homicide, and mental health; legal regulation of medicine; roles physicians and surgeons played in the process of professionalization; canon law regulations governing physical health and ecclesiastical leaders; and connections between saints’ judgments and the bodies of the penitent. Drawing on primary sources from England, France, Frisia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, the volume offers a truly international perspective. Contributors are Sara M. Butler, Joanna Carraway Vitiello, Jean Dangler, Carmel Ferragud, Fiona Harris-Stoertz, Maire Johnson, Hiram Kümper, Iona McCleery, Han Nijdam, Kira Robison, Donna Trembinski, Wendy J. Turner, and Katherine D. Watson.
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Biographical Note

Wendy J. Turner, Ph.D. (2000), UCLA, is Professor of History at Georgia Regents University. Her monograph is Care and Custody of the Mentally Ill, Incompetent, and Disabled in Medieval England (Brepols, 2013). Well published, she has edited two other volumes. Sara M. Butler, Ph.D. (2001), Dalhousie University, is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University New Orleans. She is the author of two books, most recently Divorce in Medieval England: From One to Two Persons in Law (Routledge, 2013).

Review Quote

"...With a concentration on reading and critiquing these medieval sources of medicine and law together, Turner and Butler, along with their contributors uncover how two bodies of knowledge intersect and interact, shedding light on each other equally. Indeed, "a study of medical practice through the eyes of the law...furnishes a unique opportunity to see medicine in action" (7). Simultaneously, Turner and Butler describe the law as invested in medicine and physicians for their expertise in court cases and legal matters. ...presenting several avenues for future study, highlighting one of the strengths of this collection. ...The distinction between theory and practice raised by several essays in the collection, especially those discussing the prestige of medical education or licensure, serves … as one of the more significant contributions the collection makes. And, indeed, for this reviewer, reading [Katherine D. Watson's] remarks makes clear how this collection raises as many questions as it answers, which is particularly appealing. Indeed, although scholars might wish for essays on subjects not covered, it is fitting that such a scholarly endeavor would need to strike a balance between comprehensiveness and coverage. So while this collection contains essays that are focused--almost surgical in their specific interventions--it also makes an effort to include a range of topics, covering almost ten centuries of material and most of Western Europe in twelve well-constructed chapters. Although it is ambitious, the collection responds with clarity and concision to the texts under discussion." Will Rogers, University of Louisiana, Monroe in The Medieval Review, 15.10.46

Table of contents

Acknowledgements …ix About the Authors …x Abbreviations …xiii Medicine and Law: The Confluence of Art and Science in the Middle Ages …1 Wendy J. Turner and Sara M. Butler Medical Matters in Law and Administration of Law …23 1 Compensating Body and Honor: The Old Frisian Compensation Tariffs …25 Han Nijdam 2 Midwives in the Middle Ages? Birth Attendants, 600–1300 …58 Fiona Harris-Stoertz 3 Learned Men and Skillful Matrons: Medical Expertise and the Forensics of Rape in the Middle Ages… 88 Hiram Kümper 4 Expert Examination of Wounds in the Criminal Court of Justice in Cocentaina (Kingdom of Valencia) during the Late Middle Ages …109 Carmel Ferragud 5 Forensic Evidence, Lay Witnesses and Medical Expertise in the Criminal Courts of Late Medieval Italy… 133 Joanna Carraway Vitiello 6 Mental Health as a Foundation for Suit or an Excuse for Theft in Medieval English Legal Disputes …157 Wendy J. Turner Professionalization and Regulation of Medicine …175 7 Making Right Practice? Regulating Surgery and Medicine in Fourteenth and Fifteenth-Century Bologna …177 Kira Robison 8 Medical Licensing in Late Medieval Portugal… 196 Iona McCleery 9 Dreaming of Valencia’s Social Order in Jaume Roig’s Espill…220 Jean Dangler 10 Portrait of a Surgeon in Fifteenth-Century England …243 Sara M. Butler Medicine and the Law in Hagiography …267 11 An Infirm Man: Reading Francis of Assisi’s Retirement in the Context of Canon Law …269 Donna Trembinski 12 Medicine and Miracle: Law Enforcement in the Lives of Irish Saints …288 Máire Johnson Concluding Remarks …317 Katherine D. Watson Works Cited …328 Index…369


Scholars and students of medieval law, medicine, and cultural history. All academic libraries, especially those specializing in the history of medicine or the history of the law.