Introduction: Medical Theory in Early Modern Europe

  • Margaret DeLacy


DeLacy outlines the philosophical and religious background of early modern British medicine, in particular classical or Galenic four-element theories of matter, the nature of life, and the role of the soul. She traces the development of the idea of contagion by early modern authors such as Paracelsus, Fracastoro, Fernel, Sennert, and Kircher in response to epidemic diseases such as plague and syphilis. She concludes that the monist philosophy underlying contagionism was more compatible with a heterodox religious outlook than with either a traditional Catholic or a traditional (magisterial) Protestant approach to natural philosophy.


Contagious Disease Scarlet Fever Spotted Fever Spontaneous Generation Contagionist View 
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© Margaret DeLacy 2016

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