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Bodily and Spiritual Hygiene in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

Edited By

Classen, Albrecht

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(Hardback | ISBN 9783110523294 | 615 pages)

Summary

While most people today take hygiene and medicine for granted, they both have had their own history. We can gain deep insights into the pre-modern world by studying its health-care system, its approaches to medicine, and concept of hygiene. Already the early Middle Ages witnessed great interest in bathing (hot and cold), swimming, and good personal hygiene. Medical activities grew over time, but even early medieval monks were already great experts in treating the sick. The contributions examine literary, medical, historical texts and images and probe the information we can glean from them. The interdisciplinary approach of this volume makes it possible to view this large field in a complex and diversified manner, taking into account both early medieval and early modern treatises on medicine, water, bathing, and health. Such a cultural-historical perspective creates a most valuable bridge connecting literary and scientific documents under the umbrella of the history of mentality and history of everyday life. The volume does not aim at idealizing the past, but it definitely intends to deconstruct modern myths about the ‘dirty’ and ‘unhealthy’ Middle Ages and early modern age.