Today, any mention of the medieval leper conjures up alarming images of exclusion, ostracism and fear, but such ideas are largely the product of the Victorian age, and have only limited basis in reality. By focusing upon the institutional provision made available for victims of leprosy in London between 1100 and 1500, we can explore the complexity of reactions to a disease that might be regarded as either a punishment for sin or a mark of divine favour. We will also trace the gradual impact of medical concepts of contagion and segregation, which developed alongside long-established religious teaching about the vital importance of providing proper care for men and women whose sufferings were widely identified with those of Christ.
This is part of 'The Lost Hospitals of London' Mondays at One Series. Other lectures in the series are as follows:
Carole Rawcliffe was an editor on the History of Parliament Trust (1979-92) before becoming a Senior Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia (1992-7). She was made Reader in the History of Medicine (1997-2002) and Professor of Medieval History (2002).
Her research focuses upon the theory and practice of medicine in medieval England, with particular emphasis upon hospitals, the interconnection between healing and religion, and urban health. As editor of The History of Norwich (2004), she maintains an interest in the East Anglian region, and has written extensively on its medical provision. Her most recent book, Leprosy in Medieval England (2006), is a study of medieval responses to disease. She is currently investigating concepts of health and welfare before the Reformation.