Medicine and Society in the Medieval Hospital
By Tatjana Buklijaš
Croatian Medical Journal, Vol. 49:2 (2008)
Introduction: Hospitals today are places where medical treatment is provided, but also places where major life events, such as birth and death, occur. Yet, their history is relatively short; they were born, together with modern medicine, some two hundred years ago in the revolutionary Paris. Around 1790, large hospitals and pioneering research blossomed throughout Europe, replacing the Hippocratic model of disease with the localizationist paradigm. The rise of the modern hospital began in Paris when the social change brought about by the French Revolution provided the momentum for the transformation. For the first time in history, cure of the body and care for the soul were separated, and physicians, rather than the church and rich lay patrons, took charge of medical institutions. Medical treatment was no longer a privilege of the rich (at home) or charity for the poor (in hospital), but an indispensable human right. This article discusses the influence of social changes on the history of pre-modern hospitals between the late Antiquity and early modern period. Using examples from Southern Croatia, it illuminates the subtle differences in socio-political organization, which shaped the history of hospitals.