Harmful or Healthful? Medical Perspectives on Cannibalism in Early Modern Europe

When syphilis broke out in Europe during the late fifteenth century, people debated the disease’s origins. Many believed that it had arrived from the recently encountered “New World” (Eamon 2), but Bolognese surgeon Leonardo Fioravanti (1517-88) proposed that the outbreak was caused by cannibalism that had occurred during the French invasion of Naples in 1494….

“It hath left behind it so foul and filthy broad scars, that touched the lives of four persons”: Stories of Medical Malpractice in Elizabethan England

In the preface to his 1588 treatise on surgery, Elizabethan surgeon William Clowes declared to his reader that “mine intent is not to hold my tongue at abuses” (A prooued practise sig. A1r). Thus began a section in which he discussed several stories of medical malpractice.1 In one, he described a “pernicious pill” that had…