The role of Christianity in the development of European and Serbian medieval medicine

The role of Christianity in the development of European and Serbian medieval medicine

By Radiša Antić

Archive of Oncology, Vol.18:4 (2010)

Abstract: Being conceived in the name of Christianity, the Church quickly mastered all of Western Europe, including medicine, which was developed in monasteries at first and at universities later on. The first hospitals were built within monasteries, and were used to treat monks and the general population in later times. With the founding of the first universities, medicine claimed its place in the world next to law, philosophy, and theology. In its early days, it was studied only as a theoretical science, but soon practical classes on cadavers were added. Universities were completely ruled by the Church, which meant that the curriculum had to be pre-approved by the Church, even the diplomas were presented by a bishop in a religious ceremony. Development of Serbian medieval medicine was under the influence of Byzantine and Italian (mainly Salernian) medicine. The greatest role in transfer of medical knowledge from the Byzantine Empire belonged to Serbian and Byzantine monks, while Italian doctors working in Serbia were responsible for the transfer of the Western medical knowledge. Serbian monarchs quickly started founding hospitals, both in and out of their domains, with the most famous ones being within monasteries such as Hilandar, Studenica, Pantokrator, Visoki Dečani, Sveti Arhangel, etc. In addition to those, there were two more hospitals not related to monasteries in Kotor and Belgrade, named after Stefan Lazarević. This contribution of Christianity to European medicine created a basis for a sudden development of medical science in the Renaissance.

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