The Physician

  • Jack Williams
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


Three professions were open to graduates in the sixteenth century, the church, law and that of the Physician. Robert Recorde chose the latter, was licensed to practice by Oxford University, did so for 12 years and so was made a Doctor of Physicke by Cambridge University in 1545, being one of only eight granted in that decade. A determined attempt to regulate the practice of medicine was initiated by Henry VIII and the Royal College of Physicians (1514) and the Barber –Surgeons Company (1540) were established by Royal Charters. Recorde belonged to neither bodies, but practised unhindered by the former during his lifetime and dedicated his one medical text to the latter. This text was devoted to Urology, the main diagnostic tool available. He correctly anticipated criticism from entrenched interests to his use of the vernacular and mounted a vituperative pre-emptive strike on such people in his Preface. The content of the book was based on the work by Actuarius, a thirteenth century doctor, which was the standard text used on the Continent. Recorde’s objective was to present the work as a single book, ordered so that it could be more readily understood and remembered. It was for this labour he was remembered in the Preface to the book when it was published again 130 years later. This ordered approach to instruction typified all his writings.


Royal College Sixteenth Century Henry VIII Ancient Author Bubonic Plague 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OxfordUK

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