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Doctors, Folk Medicine and the Inquisition: The Repression of Magical Healing in Portugal During the Enlightenment [Hardcover]

Timothy Dale Walker


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Book Description

April 15 2005 9004143459 978-9004143456
Inquisition trials for sorcery and witchcraft in Portugal reached a late crescindo (1715 to 1755). This study of those events focuses on the Inquisition's role in prosecuting and discrediting popular healers (called saludadores or curandeiros), who were charged with practicing magical crimes. Significantly, these trials coincide with the entrance of university-trained physicians and surgeons into the paid ranks of the Portuguese Inquisition in unprecedented numbers. State-licensed medical practitioners, motivated by professional competition combined with a desire to promote rationalized "scientific" medicine, used their positions within the Holy Office to initiate trials against purveyors of superstitious folk remedies. The repression of folk healing reveals a conflict between learned medical culture and popular healing culture in Enlightenment-era Portugal. In this rare instance, the Inquisition functioned as an instrument of progressive social change.

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Review

'...a tremendous contribution to the study of the decline of magical practices in general in Europe and the relative disappearance of magical healing in particular.' Christopher Lawrence, JEMH, 2006.

About the Author

Timothy D. Walker, Ph.D. (2001) in History, Boston University, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He has published numerous articles on early modern Portugal and the Portuguese colonies; subjects include the Inquisition, slave trading, and colonial medical adaption and dissemination.

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