Medieval science and medicine

Course Dates: 02/06/18
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Michael Bloomfield

This course examines the complaints people suffered from late antiquity to the High Middle Ages. We investigate how cures were obtained through diet, bloodletting, purgation, medicine and prayer, often in accordance with the treatments of Galen and other authorities. Tutor: Micahel Bloomfield.


What is the course about?

This course is about the medical practice and understanding Science in the medieval period. We begin with Byzantium in the 6th century, then move over to Gaul and Britain (that’s where I’ll introduce Bede and Alcuin), review the amazing work undertaken in Central Asia in Arabic, examine further medical and scientific practice in Byzantium in the 11th and 12th centuries, and then move over into England and Italy in the late mediaeval period.

What will we cover?

We begin with the world view of Isidore of Seville and the Venerable Bede, and investigate how it was that they knew what they did. We reflect on the work of Plato Aristotle, and Posidonius, and the impact of their thinking on later practitioners.
Harun al-Rashid sent to Constantinople for scientific and medical manuscripts. His son continued the work, in whose time the process of translation and assimilation of ancient texts reached its peak. We review the work of Hunayn ibn Ishaq (808 – 873) in Baghdad: a Nestorian Christian Arab who spoke Syriac, Arabic and Greek.He worked with others to translate numerous documents, most of which were medical texts, and all of which would be checked rigorously for errors. The process continued long after Hunayn’s time: by 1000 A.D. virtually the whole body of Greek medical, mathematical and scientific texts had been translated into Arabic: these were used widely. Eventually the knowledge came to western Europe….

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- be able to discuss the transmission of scientific and medical knowledge from antiquity to the medieval world;
- be able to evaluate the work of Isidore of Seville or Hunayn ibn Ishaq in the history of science/medicine;
describe the importance of Galen in the Middle Ages.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No previous knowledge is required, although there will be some recommended reading. This is an `introductory` course and does not assume any previous study or reading although you will need a good grasp of English to keep up with the course. As with most of our history and current affairs courses, curiosity and an open mind are more important than specific levels of skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Talks and discussions during the day are illustrated with slides. There is ample opportunity for discussion of questions and issues raised. Throughout the day students are encouraged to ask questions and suggest solutions to problems posed.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

A notebook and pen for recording ideas would be useful.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

There is a range of courses available at the Build which explore other aspects of Medieval history, Art and Culture.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HH117

Sat, day, 02 Jun - 02 Jun '18

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £49.00
Senior fee: £39.00
Concession: £25.00
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Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

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Any questions? [email protected]
or call 020 7492 2652

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Please note: Different fees may apply for international students. Read full guidance.

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