Populist Writing on Diseases in the Late Seventeenth Century

  • Margaret DeLacy


DeLacy focuses on three unorthodox medical populists: Marchamont Nedham, the opportunistic journalist who admired van Helmont’s work and published Medela Medicinae: the first English work on living pathogens; Gideon Harvey, who thought that venereal diseases arose from living particles and that consumption was often contagious; and the “Chymical Physitian” Everard Maywaringe, who attributed diseases to “seminal agents,” provided a clear description of the mechanism of contagion, and argued that “Qualities cannot be Diseases.” DeLacy shows that Helmontian medical ideas persisted through the Restoration period despite the political defeat of the sectarian reformers. Because they believed that the causes of disease were omnipresent, not all Helmontians believed in contagion or disease specificity, but some Helmontian authors did propagate this idea.


Venereal Disease Spotted Fever Spontaneous Generation Vital Force English Work 
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© Margaret DeLacy 2016

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  • Margaret DeLacy

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