Women and Healthcare in Early Modern Europe

Women and Healthcare in Early Modern Europe, a special issue of Renaissance Studies (Vol. 28, no. 4, September 2014; Guest editor: Sharon T. Strocchia), is now available online at:


This collection of essays by an international team of scholars brings fresh interpretive perspectives and impressive archival research to bear on the reappraisal of women’s medical activities in early modern Europe. Spanning England and the continent from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the collection situates female practitioners not on the margins of medical practice but rather at the nexus of household medicine, emerging structures of public health, and the production of medical knowledge. The essays demonstrate how increased demand for healthcare services in the early modern period opened new opportunities for women’s participation in a variety of health-related activities, from pharmacy and ‘physick’ to the provision of care. Drawing on a wide range of sources—court records, letters, inventories, printed herbals, parish account books, physicians’ journals, proceedings of state health boards—the collection showcases how innovative public health initiatives capitalized on domestic medical skills and probes sites of knowledge production and exchange outside university and guild settings. Whether spotlighting local artisans and noblewomen who worked without formal compensation or ‘expert’ practitioners who purveyed their skills in the marketplace, the essays cast new light on women’s claims to medical expertise and their self-perception as healers. Taking up issues of importance for Renaissance scholars working across the disciplines, this collection re-orients our understanding of how healthcare was organized, practiced and gendered in early modern Europe.

Table of Contents:

  • Sharon T. Strocchia, Introduction: Women and Healthcare in Early Modern Europe
  • Debra Blumenthal, Domestic Medicine: Slaves, Servants, and Female Medical Expertise in Late Medieval Valencia
  • Alisha Rankin, Exotic Materials and Treasured Knowledge: The Valuable Legacy of Noblewomen’s Remedies in Early Modern Germany
  • Elaine Leong, ‘Herbals she peruseth’: Reading Medicine in Early Modern England
  • Richelle Munkhoff, Poor Women and Parish Public Health in Sixteenth-Century London
  • Jane Stevens Crawshaw, Families, Medical Secrets and Public Health in Early Modern Venice
  • Annemarie Kinzelbach, Women and Healthcare in Early Modern German Towns

The articles by Leong and Stevens Crawshaw are available open access, and plans are underway to make the editor’s Introduction open access in the near future.

For further information contact: Sharon Strocchia, Professor of History, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322

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