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Medical ‘Emplotment’ and Plotting Medicine: Health and Disease in Late Medieval Portuguese Chronicles

Medical ‘Emplotment’ and Plotting Medicine: Health and Disease in Late Medieval Portuguese Chronicles

By Iona McCleery

Social History of Medicine (2011)

Abstract: In recent years, historians of medicine in the Middle Ages have tried to decode narratives of health and illness in their original context, attempting to uncover the meanings they may have had for the original audiences, rather than simply using these narratives to plot disease incidence. This article is a study of health, illness and traumatic injury in the chronicles of Fernão Lopes, who wrote in Portugal in the first half of the fifteenth century, focusing on the events of 1383–5, a period of civil war and foreign invasion. Arguing that Lopes made use of a series of medical ‘emplotments’ to construct his history, this study approaches medieval medicine in as broad a sense as possible engaging with the role of moral and bodily health in a dramatic tale of political ambition and national resurgence.

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