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Tales from cardinals' deathbeds: medical hierarchy, courtly etiquette and authority in the Counter Reformation

De Renzi, Silvia (2013). Tales from cardinals' deathbeds: medical hierarchy, courtly etiquette and authority in the Counter Reformation. In: Andretta , Elisa and Nicoud, Marilyn eds. Être médecin à la cour (Italie, France et Espagne, XIIIe-XVIIIe siècle). Micrologus' Library (52). Florence: Sismel, pp. 235–258.

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This chapter focuses on ecclesiastical courts in early seventeenth-century Rome. Narratives of the illnesses and deaths of Cardinals Salviati and Bellarmino had different aims and addressed different audiences, but read in conjunction with archival evidence they shed light on the provision of care and the medical encounter in a setting where courtly and religious codes overlapped. Service here was a resource for physicians at different stages of their careers, but hierarchy implied various degrees of proximity to their illustrious patients. Little-known relationships at the bedside come into focus, including senior physicians’ dependence on the information gathered by more assiduous junior colleagues or religious nurses. The narratives also reveal how the political dimension of cardinals’ illnesses, including the circulation of rumours, intersected with professional etiquette. In the relationship between patients and physicians authority was not allocated once and for all but rather shifted as an illness progressed (and after death) and in response to dynamics outside the sickroom. Culturally specific meanings of categories such as dissimulation and obedience shaped how the medical encounter was understood in a courtly and religious environment, but narratives such as those examined here projected influential models to broader audiences.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2012 Unknown
ISBN: 88-8450-481-3, 978-88-8450-481-4
Keywords: authority; medical encounter; physicians' careers; patients; Counter Reformation; relics; dissection
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 30425
Depositing User: Silvia De Renzi
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2011 09:20
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2018 14:02
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