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Precious stones in late medieval and early modern plague medicine
Within a short time of the Black Death arriving in Italian ports, in 1347, it spread across the European continent with unprecedented mortality, leaving a trail of desolation. As a response to this scenario, from the very early months of the epidemic, treatises on the disease began to appear in centres of medicine, such as Paris and Montpellier. The treatises aimed to explain the aetiology of the disease, hitherto unknown, to propose prophylactic practices and possible treatment, with phlebotomy and the use of medicines. As part of the suggested remedies, precious stones such as emerald and sapphire were mentioned repeatedly, not without logic to their use, which was based on the versatility and the polysemy of gems, in association with their magico-medical and symbolic-religious qualities. In the following centuries, gemstones continued to be mentioned in plague treatises, although with a different logic apparatus. This lecture will approach the use of gemstones and other minerals as plague remedies and amulets during the late Middle Ages and early Modern times, as part of the prevention and cure regimes of medical treatises, and the changing logic behind their use.
Raissa Bombini is a Visiting Scholar at Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library, Karolinska Institutet, and at the Department of History of University of Stockholm, Sweden, having received the Hagströmer Scholarship 2021 from The Catarina and Sven Hagströmer Foundation. Raissa has a PhD in History of Science from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil. She is currently Associate Editor of the Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science and a member of the Center Simão Mathias for Studies in History of Science
ONSDAGEN 1 JUNI KL. 18.00
Hagströmerbiblioteket Haga Tingshus
Buss 515 (Odenplan) Hållplats Haga Södra
OBS! The lecture will be given in English
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Image from: Gart der Gesuntheit zu Latein Hortus sanitatis (Strassbourg, Matthias Apiarius, 1536) - Hagströmer Library