Dulce Oliveira Amarante dos Santos

Medicine in Portugal in the Middle Ages

This project deals with an unprecedented theme in contemporary Portuguese historiography. It investigates the spaces of the monasteries destined to medical practice: domus infirmorum (hospital/house of the infirm) and charity hospitals. It is centered on the little monasteries and monasteries of the canons of Santa Cruz de Coimbra in the 12th and 13th centuries. It also researches the São Nicolau Hospital and the female performance of the monastery of São João das Donas.


The intellectual path of the physicist Pedro Hispano: relations between medical school and society in Europe of the 13th century.

The present project seeks to investigate the relationship between medical school and the European society in the thirteenth century from the intellectual path of the Portuguese physicist Pedro Hispano (c.1205-1210-1277) and from the analysis of his medical works. It is not simply a biographical study of a personage detached from the intellectual scene of the thirteenth century, but rather problematizing the social role of a physicist in university and political circles and how he is inserted as a producer of culture and at the same time influenced by the ambience of its time. The thirteenth century was a watershed in the history of medical science. The discovery of Aristotle's natural philosophy from the Arabic translations and commentaries led to a new view of the world as it presented such a coherent and logical explanation of the world that it seemed to reconcile science and reason with faith. At that moment a reorganization of the medical profession took place with a new relationship between university physicists and other practical specialists in the art of healing: surgeons, barbers (bleeders), apothecaries and healers. What was the impact of this natural philosophy on scholasticism in medical schools? What is the impact of Pedro Hispano's medical works? The large number of manuscripts of his medical texts (from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century) spread throughout the European libraries reinforces its diffusion. How did he, through his work, help university physicists to put themselves at the highest level of the medical profession?