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Hospital Life

Theory and Practice from the Medieval to the Modern

Edited By Laurinda Abreu and Sally Sheard

This edited volume originates in the 2011 conference of the International Network for the History of Hospitals, held in Lisbon and Évora, Portugal. It focuses on how institutions for the care and cure of the sick have organised their activities at every level, from the delegation of medical treatments between groups of practitioners, to the provision of food and supplies and the impact of convalescence on lengths of hospital stays. It draws on new European and North American research which highlights an area of medical history that has not yet had adequate, sustained attention, discussing the tensions between theory and practice and between patients and practitioners. Through detailed case studies and comparative analyses it explores the changing and evolving understanding of the function of hospitals, and their wider relationships with their communities.


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Fritz Dross Their Daily Bread: Managing Hospital Finances in Early Modern Germany


Roy Porter’s famous call in 1985 for the ‘patient’s view’ in the history of medicine, coupled with the development of a theoretical framework of ‘medicalisation’, has focused research attention on the relationship between patients and physicians and the organisational arrangement of hospitals in providing physical and medical care.1 The underlying hypothesis was that the increasing use by hospitals of paid university-trained physicians instead of priests and other religious workers to perform medical opera- tions justified their description as ‘modern’. However, John Henderson, after intensively studying (northern) Italian hospitals of the Renaissance, which are generally considered to represent a major turning-point within the history of hospitals, has denied ‘that the Renaissance represented an abrupt break with the Middle Ages, whether in terms of political thought 1 Roy Porter, ‘The Patient’s View. Doing Medical History from Below’, Theory and Society 14 (1985), 175–198; Philip Rieder, La figure du patient au XVIIIe siècle (Genève: Droz 2010), 9–1. The term ‘medicalisation’ goes back to Michel Foucault and aims to conceptualise a general development in modern societies starting in late eighteenth century France and historiographically strengthening the conjunction of social his- tory with the history of medicine. See Colin Jones, ‘Montpellier Medical Students and the Medicalisation of 18th-Century France’, in Roy Porter, and Andrew Wear, eds, Problems and methods in the history of medicine (London: Croom Helm 1987), 57–81; Colin Jones and Roy Porter, eds, Reassessing Foucault. Power, medicine and the body (London: Routledge 1994); Philip Rieder, ‘Medicalisation out of...

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