Henry of Herford on Epidemics and Contagious Diseases
My research project focuses on the medical teachings of Henry of Herford (1300-1377). He was a prominent figure in the intellectual debates in late-medieval Germany, author, among other things, of the Liber de rebus memorabilioribus sive Chronicon and the Catena aurea entium, a ten-book encyclopaedia dealing with all aspects of reality. In particular, I intend to transcribe Book 8 of the Catena aurea entium, the longest, with more than 1200 questions covering all issues related to human and animal behaviour, anatomy, physiology, and reproduction. Several questions from this Book are later quoted by Henry in the medical sections of Book 10. The transcription is the first step toward a critical edition of Book 8 that will be produced after my stay in Wolfenbüttel. My second main aim is to account for Henry’s ideas on pestilences and epidemic diseases, as put forward in both the Chronicon and the Catena aurea entium. His thoughts on these topics are all the more interesting because he was an eyewitness to the plague pandemic that ravaged Europe around the middle of the fourteenth century.