« PrécédentContinuer »
cine in the making during the Middle Ages. One of them, Maimonides, to whom a special chapter is devoted, deserves a place among the great makers of medicine of all time, because of the influence that he exerted on his own and succeeding generations. Any story of the preservation and development of medical teaching and medical practice during the Middle Ages would be decidedly incomplete without due consideration of the work of Jewish physicians. Western medical literature followed Roman literature in other departments, and had only the Greek traditions at second hand. During the disturbance occasioned by the invasion of the barbarians there was little opportunity for such leisure as would enable men to devote themselves with tranquillity to medical study and writing. Medical traditions were mainly preserved in the monasteries. Cassiodorus, who, after having been Imperial Prime Minister, became a monk, recommended particularly the study of medicine to the monastic brethren. With the foundation of the Benedictines, medicine became one of the favorite studies of the monks, partly for the sake of the health of the brethren themselves, and partly in order that they might be helpful to the villages that so often gathered round their monasteries. There is a well-grounded tradition that at Monte Cassino medical teaching was one of the features of the education provided there by the monks. It is generally conceded that the Benedictines had much to do with the foundation of Salerno. In the convents for women as well as the monasteries for men serious attention was given to medicine. Women studied medicine and were professors in the medical department of Salerno. Other Italian universities followed the example thus set, and so there is abundant material for the chapter on "Medieval Women Physicians."
The next phase of medical history in the medieval period brings us to the Arabs. Utterly uninterested in culture, education, or science before the time of Mohammed, with the growth of their political power and the foundation of their capitals, the Arab Caliphs took up the patronage of education. They were the rulers of the cities of Asia Minor in which Greek culture had taken so firm a hold, and captive Greece has always led its captors captive. With the leisure that came for study, Arabians took up the cultivation of the Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle, and soon turned their attention also to the Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen. For some four hundred years then they were in the best position to carry on medical traditions. Their teachers were the Christian and Jewish physicians of the cities of Asia Minor, but soon they themselves became distinguished for their attainments, and for their medical writings. Interestingly enough, more of their distinguished men flourished in Spain than in Asia Minor. We have suggested an explanation for this in the fact that Spain had been one of the most cultured provinces of the Roman Empire, providing practically all the writers of the Silver Age of Latin literature, and evidently possessing a widely cultured people. It was into this province, not yet utterly decadent from the presence of the northern Goths, that the Moors came and readily built up a magnificent structure of culture and education on what had been the highest development of Roman civilization.
The influence of the Arabs on Western civilization, and especially on the development of science in Europe, has been much exaggerated by certain writers. Closely in touch with Greek thought and Greek literature during the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries, it is easy to understand that the Arabian writers were far ahead of the Christian scholars of Europe of the same period, who were struggling up out of the practical chaos that had been created by the coming of the barbarians, and who, besides, had the chance for whatever Greek learning came to them only through the secondary channels of the Latin writers. Rome had been too occupied with politics and aggrandizement ever to become cultured. In spite of this heritage from the Greeks, decadence took place among the Arabs, and, as the centuries go on, what they do becomes more and more trivial, and their writing has less significance. Just the opposite happened in Europe. There, there was noteworthy progressive development until the magnificent climax of thirteenth century accomplishment was reached. It is often said that Europe owed much to the Arabs for this, but careful analysis of the factors in that progress shows that very little came from the Arabs that was good, while not a little that was unfortunate in its influence was borrowed from them with the translations of the Greek authors from that language, which constituted the main, indeed often the only, reason why Arabian writers were consulted.
With the foundation of the medical school of Salerno in the tenth century, the modern history of medical education may be said to begin, for it had many of the features that distinguish our modern university medical schools. Its professors often came from a distance and had travelled extensively for purposes of study; they attracted patients of high rank from nearly every part of Europe, and these were generous in their patronage of the school. Students came from all over, from Africa and Asia, as well as Europe, and when abuses of medical practice began to creep in, a series of laws were made creating a standard of medical education and regulating the practice of medicine, that are interesting anticipations of modern movements of the same kind. Finally a law was passed requiring three years of preliminary work in logic and philosophy before medicine might be taken up, and then four years at medicine, with a subsequent year of practice with a physician before a license to practise for one's self was issued. In addition to this there was a still more surprising feature in the handing over of the department of women's diseases to women professors, and the consequent opening up of licensure to practise medicine to a great many women in the southern part of Italy. The surprise that all this should have taken place in the south of Italy is lessened by recalling the fact that the lower end of the Italian peninsula had been early colonized by Greeks, that its name in later times was Magna Gratia, and that the stimulus of Greek tradition has always been especially favorable to the development of scientific medicine. Salerno's influence on Bologna is not difficult to trace, and the precious tradition of surgery particularly, which was carried to the northern university, served to initiate a period of surgery lasting nearly two centuries, during which we have some of the greatest contributions to this branch of medical science that were ever made. The development of the medical school at Bologna anticipated by but a short time that of a series of schools in the north Italian universities. Padua, Piacenza, Pisa, and Vicenza had medical schools in the later Middle Ages, the works of some of whose professors have attracted attention. It was from these north Italian medical schools that the tradition of close observation in medicine and of thoroughly scientific surgery found its way to Paris. Lanfranc was the carrier of surgery, and many French students who went to Italy came back with Italian methods. In the fourteenth century Guy de Chauliac made the grand tour in Italy, and then came back to write a text-book of surgery that is one of the monuments in this department of medical science. Before his time, Montpellier had attracted attention, but now it came to be looked upon as a recognized centre of great medical teaching. The absence of the Popes from Italy and the influence of their presence at Avignon made itself felt. While culture and education declined in Italy in the midst of political disturbances, they advanced materially at the south of France.