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Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen

Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen

Elma Brenner
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen
    Book Description:

    Between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, Rouen was one of the greatest cities in western Europe. The effective capital of the 'Angevin Empire' between 1154 and 1204 and thereafter a leading city in the realm of the Capetian and Valois kings of France, it experienced substantial growth, the emergence of communal government and the ravages of plague and the Hundred Years' War. This book examines the impact of leprosy upon Rouen during this period, and the key role played by charity in the society and religious culture of the city and its hinterland. Based upon extensive archival research, and focusing in particular on Rouen's leper houses, it offers a new understanding of responses to disease and disability in medieval Europe. It charts how attitudes towards lepers, and perceptions of their disease, changed over time, explores the relationship between leprosy, charity and practices of piety, and considers how leprosy featured in growing concerns about public health. It also sheds important new light on the roles and experiences of women, as both charitable patrons and leprosy sufferers, and on medical practice and practitioners in medieval France. Elma Brenner is Specialist in Medieval and Early Modern Medicine at the Wellcome Library, London.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-665-3
    Subjects: History, Health Sciences
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements (pp. ix-x)
    Elma Brenner
  5. Abbreviations (pp. xi-xi)
  6. [Map] (pp. xii-xii)
  7. Introduction: Leprosy, Charity and Rouen (pp. 1-18)

    Leprosy has a prominent place in the modern-day imagination of the Middle Ages. There is much interest in how such a shocking disease, which has now disappeared from Western Europe, affected medieval society. The appearance of lepers in works of art, literature and miracle accounts, as well as the material remains of leper houses, testify to the contemporary cultural impact of the disease, despite the fact that only a very small proportion of the population actually contracted it. In the area around Rouen, one of the leading cities of medieval Western Europe, several leprosaria were established in the twelfth and...

  8. 1 Rouen’s Principal Leper House: Mont-aux-Malades and its Endowment (pp. 19-37)

    Although many of the institutions that provided for lepers in the Middle Ages have left little trace in the historical record, Rouen’s most prominentleprosarium, Mont-aux-Malades, is known to us through its rich archive and architectural remains. The archive sheds light on not only the possessions and activities of theleprosarium, but also the charitable practices of Rouen’s urban and ecclesiastical elites, particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It complements the archives of Rouen’s other religious institutions in this period, all of which reveal the social networks, religious culture and patterns of property tenure that shaped life in the...

  9. 2 Charity and Community at Mont-aux-Malades (pp. 38-57)

    In the thirteenth century the fashion in Western Europe for Christian charity reached a peak, with the foundation and support of numerous hospitals,leprosaria, houses for poor women and other types of institution for the needy. Although Rouen underwent major changes in this century, following the annexation of Normandy to the French crown in 1204, Mont-aux-Malades remained a focus for high-status patronage, now receiving the support of the French royal family and household and, above all, that of Rouen’s burgess elite. Initially, the involvement of members of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy also persisted. This chapter is built upon the rich documentary...

  10. 3 Rouen’s Other Leper Houses: Institutions, Gender and Status (pp. 58-82)

    There were severalleprosariaaround Rouen in addition to Mont-aux-Malades, as befitted a city of Rouen’s size and importance. Most of these houses were small, modest foundations. Although each leper house served a distinct local community, these institutions were also interconnected, through relationships with each other and with Mont-aux-Malades. These connections suggest that provision for lepers was to some extent coordinated, not necessarily through ecclesiastical or municipal oversight, but rather through the related activities of different leper houses. The female house of Salle-aux-puelles stands out as an institution of comparable status to Mont-aux-Malades; otherleprosariawere considerably less wealthy and...

  11. 4 Leprosy and the Medical World of Rouen (pp. 83-108)

    While leprosy sufferers were an obvious object of medical attention, the understanding of the disease, and responses to it, changed in Rouen between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. The Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century undoubtedly had a great impact on the understanding of disease and attitudes towards the sick, including lepers. However, prior to the plague, it is clear that some parties in Rouen were already concerned about leprosy and contagion, while others did not fear to come into frequent contact with the sick. This variation in attitudes and behaviour suggests that this was a disease that provoked particularly...

  12. 5 Leprosy and the Religious Culture of Rouen (pp. 109-131)

    Religious worship was a central aspect of life in the medieval leper house. Pious activities were intended to ensure the spiritual wellbeing of the leprous and non-leprous members of the resident community, as well as its benefactors. The extant architectural remains of the churches of Saint-Jacques and Saint-Thomas at Mont-aux-Malades, and the chapel of Saint-Julien at Salleaux-puelles, facilitate an understanding of the multiple spiritual functions of these institutions. Within these churches, masses were said, candles were lit on behalf of benefactors and many other observances took place. The churches also housed liturgical objects and relics, and they, and the cemeteries...

  13. Conclusion (pp. 132-138)

    This study has charted the impact of, and changing responses to, a distinctive disease, leprosy, in one of the major cities of medieval Western Europe. Its findings are based upon the contents of a remarkable archive, that of theleprosariumof Mont-aux-Malades, one of the largest and wealthiest of such institutions in medieval France. By placing Mont-aux-Malades in the context of other leper houses and sources of evidence, the findings provide the first wide-ranging study of leprosy and charity in Rouen between the central and later Middle Ages, and shed much light on practices of charity, lay piety and property...

  14. APPENDIX 1: A Note on Sources (pp. 139-141)
  15. APPENDIX 2: Charters and Other Documents Relating to Leprosy: Mont-aux-Malades, Salle-aux-Puelles and Other Communities of Lepers in Rouen, c. 1100–c. 1500 (pp. 142-182)
  16. Bibliography (pp. 183-196)
  17. Index (pp. 197-203)
  18. Back Matter (pp. 204-204)