How and why did ‘the rural’ emerge as a medico-political problem, and how was this issue addressed in different parts of Europe? This book investigates how rural environments became associated with particularised concepts of sickness and health, and how such views changed over time. Responses, in the form of successful and failed attempts to make a ‘new’ countryside, are analysed at local, regional and national levels – to some extent also involving international dimensions – covering sanitary and social campaigns, legislation and regulation, as well as the establishment and functioning of health services. The volume demonstrates the ambiguous position of rural society in European culture and politics. ‘The rural’ represented the good, clean, and unspoilt; yet it was perceived as backwards, uncivilised, and on the margins of ‘the modern’. This volume shows how medical science and medical practitioners contributed both to the ambiguity of ‘the rural’ and to the ‘civilisation’ of country-dwellers, and additionally demonstrates the strong political and cultural positions held by rural populations in some of the countries.