From cures to courts of justice: the medical encounter and social order in early modern Spain
Dr Carolin Schmitz
University of Cambridge
Early modern medical encounters have mainly been studied as transactions between individuals and healers. This project shifts the focus by placing encounters within the communities that structured early modern lives, and the practices and expectations of social order that shaped them. The variety of encounters that took place in the Catholic kingdom of Castile provides an ideal case study to establish this fresh perspective on the politics of healthcare. By using trial records, tracts on medical etiquette and literary sources, I will explore how encounters intersected with the domestic, collective and religious order of close-knit urban and rural communities.
The project will reveal which assumptions about norms and stability guided medical encounters, and how the encounters bolstered or disrupted social stability. It will also show how communities monitored and communicated healing practices, and discuss how religion intersected with other facets of social order. I will assess the informal and formal strategies, including legal strategies, by which communities managed controversial encounters. I will also aim to understand how a medical encounter could turn into a legal dispute, and evaluate the short- and long-term consequences this process had for communities.