Läkare och läkande : läkekonstens professionalisering i Sverige under medeltid och renässans

Sammanfattning: This doctoral thesis examines the arts of healing in the area of present-day Sweden dur¬ing the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (ca. 1100–1600 AD). It focuses on secular arts of healing for the body, rather than magical and religious healing or the cure of the soul. It is done by studying material culture in the form of archaeological finds from Southern Sweden and contemporary written sources from the Nordic region. The ques¬tions asked can be grouped in three main themes: Perceptions of disease, affliction and injury, Practitioners of the arts of healing and Arts of healing. I examine the underlying understandings or perceptions of disease as well as attitudes towards disease as such and towards the afflicted individuals. Old Norse names and designations in the first half of the Middle Ages seem to reflect what I call a cause- and consequence-oriented understand¬ing of disease. Latin and to some extent Old Norse names and designations from the second half of the Middle Ages can rather be characterized as reflecting a symptom- and sign-oriented understanding. I interpret this as a change, with a new understanding of disease spreading during this time. The medieval and Renaissance arts of healing in the Swedish region were to a large extent a craft: a knowledge of the hand and the senses. Within this craft an incipient professionalization is discernible already in the first half of the Middle Ages, but it seems to have been interrupted by the Black Death and partly inhibited by a series of recurring epidemics in the fifteenth century. At the same time a new wave of professionalization started, which eventually led towards a segmentation of the occupation of læknir into barber surgeons, apothecaries and doctors and the for¬malization of the new occupations in the course of the sixteenth century, with the for¬mation of new occupational ethoses. This is reflected in the more specialized material culture of instruments and vessels. The picture emerging of the treatments provided is that of a heterogeneous phenomenon, varying between milieus and over time. There were several different arts of healing or medical cultures. The easiest to discern are the secular as opposed to the monastic arts of healing, but to draw sharp lines between the two might give an impression of two homogeneous phenomena, which they were not. The secular art of healing seems to have been empirical to a high degree and remarkably unaffected by the monastic art of healing, whose medical material culture hardly spread extra claustrum. Phlebotomy, for example, seems to have had different motivations in the two sociocultural contexts. It seems as if the Black Death and the epidemics that followed had devastating consequences in the form of lost knowledge within the occu¬pation of the læknir and for the ongoing process of professionalization. This necessitated a reorientation and a compensation for lost skills with new ideas. This was sought in the medical literature and the tradition or medical culture it reflected, which up until then had not played any great role.

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