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Medicine Through Time – The Black Death, 1346-52

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr John Aberth (Castleton State College) explores approaches to the treatment of the Black Death and attempts to stop its spread. In the first module, we use a re-enactment to look at how the fourteenth century medical student Blasius of Barcelona cured himself of the Black Death. In the second module, we situate Blasius of Barcelona’s plague cure in its medical context, focusing in particular on the different treatments proposed by various physicians and their accounts of the disease. In the third module, we turn to consider the poison theory of plague contagion, before in the fourth module evaluating the extent to which Christian and Islamic doctors varied in their response to the Black Death. In the fifth module, we conclude by thinking about the modern verdict that can be attributed to medieval treatments of the Black Death, assessing how our understanding of disease and its spread has changed, and how this affects our evaluation of medieval medicine.

About the Lecturer

Dr John Aberth is an independent scholar of medieval history, and has lectured at a number of universities, including the University of Nebraska, the University of Vermont, and Norwich University. His research interests lie in medieval Europe, teaching on topics ranging from corrupt clergymen to the Black Death. His recent publications include Doctoring the Black Death: Medieval Europe’s Medical Response to Plague (2021), The Black Death: A New History of the Great Mortality, 1347-1350 (2020), The Plagues in World History (2011), and The Black Death (2005).

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