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Medicine and Law: The Confluence of Art and Science in the Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

A substantial portion of medieval law centered on injury or death, and the perspective of a physician could bring much to the conversation regarding intent and injury assessment through examination and testimony based on professional medical experience. Medical testimony in the courts was one of the many legal experiments implemented in the wake of the abolition of the ordeal. The sights of Italian scholars have focused primarily on the settings of Bologna and Venice; Vitiello's study of Reggio Emilia authenticates that even the smaller Italian cities shared in the practice of soliciting court testimony from medical practitioners. Physicians called as expert witnesses, laws governing medical conditions, lawyers who called on their physician friends to stand for them in court, medical practitioners who exploited the law in their mission to professionalize: all of the examples reveal that the juncture of law and medicine in the middle Ages was a powerful one.

Keywords: Bologna; Italian scholars; medical practitioners; medical testimony; medieval law; middle Ages; Reggio Emilia; Venice



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