The Lost Leprosy Hospitals Of London: Leprosia
Lecture by Carole Rawcliffe
Given at Gresham College on March 5, 2012
Today, any mention of the medieval leper conjures up alarming images of exclusion, ostracism and fear, but such ideas are largely the product of the Victorian age, and have only limited basis in reality. By focusing upon the institutional provision made available for victims of leprosy in London between 1100 and 1500, we can explore the complexity of reactions to a disease that might be regarded as either a punishment for sin or a mark of divine favour. We will also trace the gradual impact of medical concepts of contagion and segregation, which developed alongside long-established religious teaching about the vital importance of providing proper care for men and women whose sufferings were widely identified with those of Christ.