You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Medicine Through Time - The English Medical Renaissance, 1400-1800

4. Medicine and the “New Philosophy”

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we look at the influence of the “New Philosophy” on medicine, focusing in particular on; (i) the revival of alchemy, in particular Paracelsianism and iatrochemistry; (ii) the Oxford Philosophical Club; (iii) Thomas Willis, and his contribution to the understanding of fevers and the brain; (iv) the development of new theories of matter, including the revival of Epicurean atomism and the rise of corpuscularianism; (v) the air pump experiments of Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke; and (iv) the foundation of the Royal Society, and the publication of its Philosophical Transactions.


In this course, Professor Harold Cook (Brown University) looks at the Medical Renaissance in England, spanning from 1400-1800. In the first module, we consider what the English Medical Renaissance was, looking at the changes that occurred in England from 1400-1800 and how these had an impact upon medicine. In the second module, we look at how ordinary people understood health and illness, before in the third module focusing more closely on the new ideas that emerged during this period, in particular the notion that the human body possessed tangible substances which were in motion. In the fourth module, we look at the relationship between medicine and the “New Philosophy” that developed during the 17th century, before in the fifth module focusing on Thomas Sydenham and his particular contribution to the understanding of disease. Finally, in the sixth module, we consider the growing focus on medical treatments in 17th century England, and how this reflects the broader changes that occurred during the English Medical Renaissance.


Professor Harold Cook is the John F. Nickoll Professor of History at Brown University. His research interest lies in the history of medicine, particularly during the early modern period, and the relationship between commerce, medicine, and science. He has published extensively on early modern medicine, including Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age (2007), Trials of an Ordinary Doctor: Joannes Groenevelt in Seventeenth-Century London (1994), and The Decline of the Old Medical Regime in Stuart London (1986). Cook is also co-editor of the journal Medical History>, an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2009 was awarded the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cook, H. (2022, November 11). Medicine Through Time - The English Medical Renaissance, 1400-1800 - Medicine and the “New Philosophy” [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cook, H. "Medicine Through Time - The English Medical Renaissance, 1400-1800 – Medicine and the “New Philosophy”." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Nov 2022,

Image Credits