Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen

Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen

Elma Brenner


Royal Historical Society



An investigation into the effects of leprosy in one of the major towns in medieval France, illuminating urban, religious and medical culture at the time.
Between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, Rouen was one of the greatest cities in Western Europe. The effective capital of the 'Angevin Empire' between 1154 and 1204 and thereafter a leading city in the realm of the Capetian and Valois kings of France, it experienced substantial growth, the emergence of communal government and the ravages of plague and the Hundred Years' War.
This book examines the impact of leprosy upon Rouen during this period, and the key role played by charity in the society and religious culture of the city and its hinterland. Based upon extensive archival research, and focusing in particular on Rouen's leper houses, it offers a new understanding of responses to disease and disability in medieval Europe. It charts how attitudes towards lepers, and perceptions of their disease, changed over time, explores the relationship between leprosy, charity and practices of piety, and considers how leprosy featured in growing concerns about public health. It also sheds important new light on the roles and experiences of women, as both charitable patrons and leprosy sufferers, and on medical practice and practitioners in medieval France.

Elma Brenner is Specialist in Medieval and Early Modern Medicine at the Wellcome Library, London.


December 2015
11 black and white, 1 line illustrations
215 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
ISBN: 9780861933396
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Royal Historical Society
BISAC HIS037010, MED039000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: leprosy, charity and Rouen
Rouen's principal leper house: Mont-aux-Malades and its endowment
Charity and community at Mont-aux-Malades
Rouen's other leper houses: institutions, gender and status
Leprosy and the medical world of Rouen
Leprosy and the religious culture of Rouen
Appendix 1: A note on sources
Appendix 2: Summary list of charters and other documents relating to leprosy in Rouen, c. 1100-c. 1500

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