The transition from monastic to secular medicine in medieval England
By Ginny L. Gaweda
Master’s Thesis, University of North Carolina, 2006
Introduction: During the Middle Ages, up to the twelfth century, monasteries were the primary source of medical education in Europe and maintained medical facilities such as hospitals and infirmaries. By the latter half of the twelfth-century, the location of medical education in medieval England had begun to shift away from the monastic communities to the developing schools and universities in the growing urban areas. According to historian David Lindberg, the transition of medical education to secular universities corresponded with the growing trends of professionalization and secularization that were redefining medical practice. At present, scholars have yet to study the quality and availability of treatment during this period of English history. This is largely due to an academic void surrounding the issue of health care provision during the late Middle Ages. In addressing this gap, this thesis will rely on a combination of primary and secondary source materials as it analyzes the transition from monastic to professionalized secular medicine, the condition of secular and domestic medicine, as well as the altering state of medical education, ethics, and treatment, in order to determine how these changes affected the characteristics and availability of medical care in twelfth, thirteenth, and early fourteenth-century England, ending with the Black Death of 1348.