Early Islamic Medicine

Epochal Science

IMAGE:Albucasis blistering a patient in the hospital at Cordova, 1100, by Ernest Board, c. 1912. Wellcome Library, London.

The history of Western medicine owes much to its encounters with the medieval Muslim world, yet this debt seems destined to go unrecognized and unrepaid.

Jonathan Lyons | Lapham’s Quarterly

When the Western European army of the cross brought the First Crusade to the Holy Land in 1096, the Arabs of the Near East were less impressed by the army’s religious zeal than they were appalled by its stench. The disease-ridden body of the Christian host included true believers and righteous folk but also, according to the report of the medieval chronicler Albert of Aix in his Historia Hierosolymita, “adulterers, homicides, thieves, perjurers, and robbers.” Few had any learning at all. Ignorant of even the rudiments of science, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and sanitation, they knew nothing of the workings of that prince…

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