Beyond the History of Academic Medicine: Medical Pluralism in Early Modern Spain

María Luz López Terrada y Carolin Schmitz
Thursday, 5 May 2016 - 12:00

Since many years historians of medicine have expressed a growing interest in the coexistence of different medical systems, a phenomenon quite familiar in present-day societies which gradually has been incorporated into the historical discourse. Most recent historiographical trends are pointing out that taking into account the pluralism of medicine is absolutely essential for a proper understanding of the strategies involved in health and illness during a particular historical period. In order to consider all the possibilities that were used in the Early Modern society to solve health problems, our analysis is carried out from a social and cultural approach to the past, as well as from medical anthropology, which allows to include regulated empirical practices and the use of magic and religious forms of healing, etc. Additionally, this approach emphasizes the role played out by both practitioners and patients. The specific goal of our work is therefore to bring to the forefront two players who used to play secondary roles in medical historiography: irregular practitioners and the sick.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Building 8E, Access J, 4th Floor (Descubre Room. Red Cube)
Universitat Politècnica de València | Camino de Vera s/n

Short CV: 

MaríaLuz López Terrada: 

Historical analysis of the interdependence of science in Early Modern society. Specifically, the degree of penetration, popularization and influence of medicine, astronomy and natural history in many areas, and between the different social groups, from very diverse sources such as archives, scientific texts and non-scientific or technical literature (sermons, theatre, poetry and other literary sources) full of images related to scientific activity. Medicine based on Galenism, and its particular way of understanding practice and its practitioners, was popular and widespread. That’s why medicine was considered an invaluable and indispensable benefit for society. The same happened with a  scientific disciplines directly related to medicine: natural history. The research focuses on:

  • Early Modern medicine in its socioeconomic and political context: medical practice and healthcare in Early Modern Spain, particularly in the self-governing Kingdom of Valencia; the presence of extra academic forms of medicine in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • The public and scientific activity: the circulation and popularization of scientific ideas within the intellectual categories of this period, the Baroque representations of medicine and natural history in sermons and creative literature.
  • The scientific ideas of doctors in the Modern Age, as well as the changes in the content and limits of disciplines in the knowledge map of the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Study of the role of doctors as experts in various fields: such as in the different early modern Valencian courts or in municipal councils, through sources from archives sources.
  • Development of a complete catalogue of the collection from the legacy of doctor and medical historian José Rodrigo Pertegás, located in different Valencian and Catalan libraries and archives.
  • Baroque images and representations of the sick and disease in the Early Modern Spain.
  • The process of understanding American nature and land, and the introduction of American plants in Europe: in particular the cultivation of tomato and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in herbaria, medical texts and the Chronicles of the Indies during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Carolin Schmitz:

Actualmente: Doctoranda en el Programa de Doctorado „Historia de la Ciencia y Comunicación Científica“, Universitat de València.

Licenciada (M.A.) en Historia, Filología española y Etnología (2010, Universität Trier, Alemania).  Máster Universitario en "Historia de la Ciencia y Comunicación científica" (2014, Universitat de València).

Desde 2011, becaria del programa JAE-Predoc del CSIC, para realizar el proyecto de la tesis doctoral “Los enfermos en la España barroca (1600-1740) y el pluralismo médico: Espacios, estrategias y actitudes.” Director y tutor de tesis: María Luz López Terrada (Ingenio, CSIC-UPV) y Àlvar Martínez Vidal (UV).