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- Author: Sandra Cavallo x
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This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of the book. The book explores the forms through which preventive ideas were disseminated in different local contexts, whether through oral, written, medical and non-medical channels. It explains that which areas of behaviour and which categories of patients were touched by these preoccupations, and whether preventive concerns varied in relation to gender and age, whether they changed over time and were different in different countries. The book provides a wealth of evidence about the form taken by daily preventive practices. It demonstrates the pervasive presence of preventive ideas, and the Non-Naturals in particular. The book draws on the expertise of scholars who are not simply medical historians but contribute to medical history from a range of perspectives: art history, history of material culture, of philosophy and ideas, and religious discourse.
This book explores whether early modern people cared about their health, and what did it mean to lead a healthy life in Italy and England. According to the Galenic-Hippocratic tradition, 'preservative' medicine was one of the three central pillars of the physician's art. Through a range of textual evidence, images and material artefacts, the book documents the profound impact which ideas about healthy living had on daily practices as well as on intellectual life and the material world in Italy and England. Staying healthy and health conservation was understood as depending on the careful management of the six 'Non-Naturals': the air one breathed, food and drink, excretions, sleep, exercise and repose, and the 'passions of the soul'. The book provides fresh evidence about the centrality of the Non-Naturals in relation to groups whose health has not yet been investigated in works about prevention: babies, women and convalescents. Pregnancy constituted a frequent physical state for many women of the early modern European aristocracy. The emphasis on motion and rest, cleansing the body, and improving the mental and spiritual states made a difference for the aristocratic woman's success in the trade of frequent pregnancy and childbirth. Preventive advice was not undifferentiated, nor simply articulated by individual complexion. Examining the roles of the Non-Naturals, the book provides a more holistic view of convalescent care. It also deals with the paradoxical nature of perceptions about the Neapolitan environment and the way in which its airs were seen to affect human bodies and health.
This chapter consider regimens as a discreet form of medical advice literature whose goal is the popularisation of expert recommendations about how to preserve health in everyday life through the correct management of one's lifestyle and, more precisely, of the spheres of activity that medical theory defined as the six Non-Naturals. It defines the timeline of the emergence of regimens in printed, vernacular form in Italy and England and of identifying the driving forces behind their rise. The chapter focuses on the social and intellectual profiles of medical authors and to the aims and ambitions which, at some point, turned them into agents of this dissemination of preventive awareness. It concerns the extent to which one can identify similar patterns in the chronology, authorship, aims and readerships of regimens in Italy and England.