The Englishman's Doctor

The Englishman's Doctor

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Frontispiece of a book by Sir John Harington which he translated from the 12th century medical book “Regimen Sanitatis Salernitatum" (the Salernitan Rule of Health). This was originally published in the 12th century by the earliest medical school in Europe, the Schola Medica Salernitana, at Salerno, southern Italy. It was widely circulated and consulted for many hundreds of years. Greatly esteemed as a standard text-book, it is the best-known literary survival of medieval medicine, running to over 300 editions. Written in verse form, like most medical literature at the time, Sir John Harington (the inventor of the modern water-closet) loosely translated the medical poem into English verse in the 16th century as a rule-of-thumb manual of household medicine. Some of its recommendations still have a point today - “Joy, temperance, and repose slam the door in the doctor's nose”.

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Keywords: englishmans doctor, medical literature, medicine, medieval, poem, poetry, regimen sanitatis salernitatum, salernitan rule of health, salerno, schola medica salernitana, sir john harington, sixteenth century, tenth century, verse, water-closet

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