Diagnostics in Late Medieval Sources

Diagnostics in Late Medieval Sources

D., Tomíček (Charles University in Prague, First Faculty of Medicine, Institute for History of Medicine and Foreign Languages, Prague, Czech Republic)

Prague Medical Report, / Vol. 110 (2009) No. 2, p. 120–127


In this paper I focus on the nature of diagnosis in the Czech written medical sources. In the first part, the character of medieval medicine is described. Further, I deal with contemporary definitions of disease and some important aspects of diagnostic; finally, I adduce the signs of diseases described in examined sources: primarily the manuscript texts created in the first half of the 15th century and old printed books from the 16th century. I come to conclusion, that the medieval medicine was oriented on health problems instead of concrete diseases. For non-university trained physicians, the methods of healing were more important than quest to find the concrete disease.

In this paper I would like to speak shortly about the nature of medical diagnoses in medieval and early modern Czech written medical literature, which I have studied in recent years. The oldest manuscripts containing Czech medical texts are dated to the first half of the 15th century, but in greater numbers they were written in its second half and during the 16th century. Printed books with Czech medical texts were published for the first time in the 16th century. They were used as handbooks by non-graduated medical practitioners and also served as manuals for personal use of well-situated men. A genre composition of these books is manifold. They consist of texts about phlebotomy (blood-letting), uroscopy, healing of specific diseases, diets, qualities of herbs and other topics. The manuscripts are usually anonymous, some of them were written by clergymen, and printed books were created by university-trained physicians.

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