The Early Modern Period was a time of incredible change across Europe particularly in the study of medicine. The period begins with Vasari’s birth in 1511 and ends at the creation of the first modern inoculation by Edward Jenner in 1796. These events mark the beginning of modern medicine with the rediscovery of ancient texts by Vasari and his contemporaries, and the end of the early by the creation of the first scientifically founded inoculation. During this period developments across Europe, and European colonies led to major changes in the structure of society. Medicine is intrinsically tied to these changes, and mirrors many of these developments, such as the rise of secularism and the development of nation states. Medicine begins the period under the control of the religious as well as small educated groups, but ends in a context more similar to modern public health due to the influence of medical thinkers on monarchs and other secular authorities. Interestingly medicine also experiences a time of unexpected backwardness in its modernity, and this period includes developments into germ theory, prosthetics and public health that were ignored or unused for a large portion of the period. The study of medicine in this period allows for a unique perspective on the changes which occur over nearly 300 years of European history.


Jack Williams