Health and the City

April 2015
20 black and white, 9 line illustrations
276 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781903153604
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
York Medieval Press
BISAC HIS037010, HIS037020, MED039000

Health and the City

Disease, Environment and Government in Norwich, 1200-1575

Isla Fay

An exploration of the health, sanitation, and cleanliness of one of England's most important medieval and early modern cities.
In 1559, William Cuningham MD published an image of a quintessentially healthy city. The source of his inspiration was Norwich, one of England's largest and wealthiest provincial boroughs. Though idealized, Cuningham's "map" fairly represented the municipalities' attempts to rebuild and improve the infrastructure. But his image also covered up many problems: Norwich in reality was pocked by decayed housing, deteriorating streets and polluted waterways, and was home to significant numbers of sick and impoverished residents.
This book brings both viewpoints to life. Cuningham's particular brand of "environmental health" imitated ancient ideas (in particular the Hippocratic text Airs, Waters, Places), and drew upon astrology, the study of the weather, and local topography. The book shows that amongst the citizens, a complementary form of medical culture existed that put individuals under the spotlight. It included neighbourhood reactions to illness and disability; the responsibilities of the governing elite for sanitation; and judgments about the lifestyles of different members of the community. Hygiene from this perspective was not only about cleanliness, but also about behaviour, hierarchy, and property. The study draws together a wide range of source materials (including images, medical notebooks and objects, human remains, the corporation's archives, and civic ritual and drama), considering both high and low culture.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A 'Healthfull and Pleasant' City
Air and smell: hygiene and networks of authority in an urban context
An epitome of hygiene: William Cuningham's prospect plan
Placing disease in the urban landscape: the osteoarchaeological evidence
Placing health in the urban landscape: the gardens of Norwich
Cleaning up: reforming the urban environment 1300-1570
Housing, self-management and healing in the Tudor city


Demonstrates the vitality of local history and the merits of interdisciplinarity. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Wide-ranging, well-researched and thoroughly engaging [...] Health and the City will remain an important and indeed essential contribution to the history of urban health. SOCIAL HISTORY OF MEDICINE

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