Our Events

  • October 2023/ Seminar: “Prophetic Medicine and Sufi Piety in Medieval Islam”

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 12.00 (Melbourne local time)

    • Where: online
  • October 2023/ Seminar: “Towards an Environmental History of Mining in Preindustrial Europe”

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 14.30 (Ghent local time), or 23.30 (Melbourne local time)

    • Where: Ghent University, Campus UFo, Henri Pirenne Lecture Room (1st floor), Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 35, 9000 Gent
  • September 2023/ Seminar: “The Nature of Preindustrial Mining: Environmental Perspectives and Knowledge Creation”

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 12.00 (Melbourne time) – 13 September 2023

  • Where: Old Arts 155, The University of Melbourne

  • August 2023/ Seminar: “The Nature of Extraction in Preindustrial Europe”

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 12.00 (Melbourne time) – 13.00, 25 August 2023

  • Where: Menzies Building, Monash University, Clayton Campus

*For Zoom link and room details, please email sarahmay.comley@monash.edu

  • August 2023/ Symposium: Medieval Bodies: New Projects, New Perspectives

Organised by Professor Megan Cassidy-Welch (Australian Catholic University) this symposium explores the ‘medieval body’ as a site of critical inquiry, through three ongoing research projects of disparate focuses: ‘Literature and the Face’; ‘Queer Medievalism’ and our very own project, ‘Pursuing Public Health in the Pre-industrial World’. 

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 09.30 (Melbourne local time), 17 August 2023

  • Where: Teresa of Kolkota Building, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy

*Register for both online and in-person attendance by emailing julie.carpenter@acu.edu.au@acu.edu.au

  • June 2023/ Workshop: Workers’ Health and Material Environment in Port Cities (1300-1700)

Organised by Dr. C.V. Weeda (Leiden University) and Marie-Louise Leonard (University Ca’ Foscari Venezia), this workshop includes three of our fabulous team: Claire Weeda, Janna Coomans, and Léa Hermenault. The workshop explores ” how port cities and maritime recruits negotiated health policies in their different material environments and how representations of the material environment informed an understanding of workers’ different abilities.”

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 09.25 (Amsterdam local time)

  • Where: Huizinga Building, Leiden

*Register for online attendance by emailing c.v.weeda@hum.leidenuniv.nlprogram-workshop-workers-health-and-material-environment-leiden-university-22-june-2023

  • February 2023/ Medieval Round Table: The Nature of Extraction in Preindustrial Europe

Guy Geltner will be presenting at The University of Melbourne’s Medieval Round Table discussion group on 6 February 2023. The Round Table is an informal forum that meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of the month, to discuss works in progress. It is open to all interested scholars and students.

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • When: 6:15pm local time (Melbourne Australia)

  • Where: University of Melbourne, Melbourne Australia OR Zoom

*Please note the two sessions can be attended separately. Register for online attendance by emailing andrewws@unimelb.edu.au 


  • December 2022/ Unbounded Bodies, Dynamic Places: Biopolitics in the Preindustrial World

Deakin Burwood Corporate Centre will hold their final CES stream event for the year: Unbounded Bodies, Dynamic Places: Biopolitics in the Preindustrial World, with Professor Guy Geltner on Tuesday 6 December 2022. 

OVERVIEW (More details here)

  • Session 1*: Masterclass with Professor Guy Geltner (11:00am – 12:30 pm)
  • Catered Lunch (12:30 – 1:30 pm)
  • Session 2*: Talk and Film Screening with Professor Guy Geltner On the long history of extraction and the environment, and its relation to questions of geo- and biopower (1:30 – 3:30 pm)

*Please note the two sessions can be attended separately. Register for in-person attendance via Eventbrite. Register for online attendance via Zoom.

  • September 2022/ Dynamic Balances: Public Health in the Premodern World

Universiteit van Amsterdam 29-30 September 2022

The ERC project Premodern Healthscaping hosted its final conference ‘Dynamic Balances: Public Health in the Premodern World’ at the University of Amsterdam on 29-30 September. During this two-day conference, the team members presented the findings of five years of research in numerous aspects of public health in pre-industrial urban Europe. Their propositions were challenged and expanded by contributions from scholars of public health in the Islamic World, South Asia, and Latin America of the same historical period. Here is the list of the presentations during these two days:
  • Edmund Hayes and Maaike van Berkel, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
     Water as a purifying agent in the governance of public health of the medieval middle eastern city
  • Carole Rawcliffe, University of East Anglia
     Fire Prevention in Late Medieval British Towns and Cities
  • Léa Hermanault, Universiteit van Amsterdam
     Interweaved knowledge: Empirical decisions, relations to natural environment and disseminations of Galenic texts during the Middle Ages in north-western Europe
  • Abigail Agresta, George Washington University
     Plague Hospitals and Public Health Infrastructure in Late Medieval Valencia
  • Lola Digard, Universiteit van Amsterdam
     ‘Que nul barrier ne soi si hardi’: The Medical Market as a site of biopolitical negotiation in Late Medieval Flanders
  • Nükhet Varlık, Rutgers University
     Imagined Healthscapes: Early Modern Ottoman Cities as Places of Health and Disease
  • Guy Geltner, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Monash University
     Preventative Healthcare among Miners in Europe, 1200-1550
  • Shireen Hamza, Harvard University
     Provisioning Ulema with Medicine in the Indian Ocean World
  • Francesco Bianchini, Kings’ College Cambridge
     Better Safe than Sorry: Hospitals, prevention and Healthscaping in Medieval Monsoon Asia
  • Justin Stearns, New York University, Abu Dhabi
     Healthscaping a World Ravaged by Plague: The Promises and Limitations of Islamicate Plague Treatises from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century
  • Carmen Caballero-Navas, Universidad de Granada
     Caring for Our People’s Well-being: Agents of Communal Health in Late Medieval Iberian Jewish Communities
  • Claire Weeda, Universiteit Leiden
     Vermin, disease and Public health in Europe, 1100-1600: Extermination, Exorcism and Purification
  • Janna Coomans, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Utrecht University
     Forced Motions: Poor Migrants and Changing Perceptions of Public Health in Northwestern Europe, 1450-1600
  • Edward Anthony Polanco, Virginia Tech
     Pactinemiliztli: Maintaining, Losing and Restoring Health in Early Colonial Central Mexican Nahua Communities The gathering came to a conclusion through a plenary public event on 30 September. During this event Guy Geltner, Nükhet Varlık, and Peregrine Horden explored the history of premodern public health and reflected on possible future directions within this research field. Below is the title of their talks:
  • Guy Geltner, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Monash University
     Healthscaping Urban Europe and Beyond
  • Nükhet Varlık, Rutgers University
     Rethinking the History of Premodern Health
  • Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway, University of London
     Healthscape Picture Restoration: Is There a Risk of Over-cleaning? The papers which were presented and discussed during the conference will be published in an edited volume.
  • September 2022/ La vita urbana e le pratiche igieniche medievali a Bologna e in altre città

Università di Bologna 26 September 2022

This conference explores the connections between population, health, and the urban environment in northern Italian cities, particularly Bologna. It brings together scholars from history and archaeology to investigate how medieval governments, institutions, and citizens defined and managed urban health and hygiene, and conversely illness and danger.


  • April 2022/ Premodern Healthscaping at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine

Saratoga Springs, New York 22 April 2022

Premodern Healthscaping team presents at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine in Saratoga Springs, New York. The presentation is scheduled for Session B5, 3:00-4:30 pm (EST). B5. Health and mobility in premodern northwestern Europe 1300-1500 Broadway 1 & 2 Chair: Dora Vargha, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 1. Lola Digard, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Expiatory pilgrimages and the health of mobility in the county of Flanders, 1300-1500 2. Janna Coomans, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Biopolitics, Health and the Itinerant Poor in the Late Medieval Netherlands 3. Claire Weeda, Universiteit Leiden, Regulating the mobility of the able-bodied poor and public health services in fifteenth-century cities in the Low Countries You can find more information about the 95th Annual Meeting of the AAHM and its full programme here.


  • April 2022/ The Disruptive Power of Pandemics in Public Health History

Online Lecture by Guy Geltner Thursday, 7 April 2022

Talk by Professor Guy Geltner (Monash University) on some of the global implications of his team’s revision of “premodern” public health.


  • “Eat, Pray, Dig: Preventative Healthcare Among Miners in Europe, 1200-1600”

Public Lecture by Guy Geltner Friday, 18 November 2021

Ever since miners began excavating Europe’s „underground cathedrals” in the later twelfth century, they encountered many hazards both below and above the ground. This talk examines the cluster of dangers miners faced (or thought they faced) and the suite of preventative programs they devised to address them, on the basis of legal, scientific, administrative and pictorial sources. It also seeks to assess the latter’s limitations and impact, as they emerge from (bio)archaeological data from mining cemeteries and other archaeological remains. Tracing the preventative practices of these mostly rural communities sheds much new light on preindustrial healthscaping in Europe and its relations with the era’s prevalent medical paradigm of Galenism, which is increasingly better understood among townspeople. Furthermore, it tests new methodologies to recover and analyse miners’ sub/terranean spaces, including their unique materiality and mobility regimes. In particular, the spread of metalliferous seams, which elites could not control, and the era’s available technologies of excavation, created opportunities for miners to translate their underground agency into exterranean privileges, including those designed to preserve their health. Collectively these conditions often placed miners on the cutting edge of group prophylactics, ranging from protective gear and underground guidance systems, to expensive drainage and ventilation equipment, to balanced diets and zoning aboveground.

This lecture was delivered in Bochum University on 18 November 2021. You can watch the video recording of the lecture here.


  •  Unbounded Bodies, Dynamic Places: Biopolitics in the Preindustrial World

      Event type: Masterclass and Film Screening
    • Address: Deakin Burwood, Melbourne (Naarm) Australia with online option
    • Speakers: Guy Geltner (Monash University, University of Amsterdam)
    • Event dates:6 December 2022, 11:30 – 15:00 AEDT
    • Registration: Eventbrite (in-person) or Zoom (online)
  • Power and Production in Late Medieval Lucca

    • Event type: Seminar
    • Series: Late Medieval and Early Modern Italy
    • Address: Online- via Zoom
    • Speakers: Taylor Zaneri (University of Amsterdam)
    • Event dates: 24 February 2022, 5:15PM – 7:15PM
    • Contact: ihr.events@sas.ac.uk
  • Matter into Place: Public Health and Urban Space in the Medieval Low Countries

Online Workshop Friday, 9 July 2021, 9:00-13:00 CEST


09:00-10:45 Session1: Waterscapes

Janna Coomans, Léa Hermenault (University of Amsterdam) Water infrastructures and public works as key elements of an economy of movement in Ghent (14th-15th centuries) Frank Gelaude (University of Antwerp) Controlling rivers in the medieval city of Ghent Roos van Oosten (Leiden University) Water management in a typical Dutch water-rich town Discussant: Maaike van Berkel (Radboud University Nijmegen)

10:45-11:15: Coffee Break

11:15-13:00 Session2: Crafts, wastes and pollution in the city

Lola Digard (University of Amsterdam) The influence of guilds and peace procedures on the social, moral and healthcare environment of the late medieval cities of Ghent and Douai, 1350-1500 Ward Leloup (Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University) ‘Walram the coryer, he stynketh’. The leather industry and the urban environment in late medieval Bruges and Mechelen Barbora Wouters, Yanik Devos (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) Open spaces, markets, waste management and post pollution in medieval towns through a geoarchaeological lens Discussant: Marc Boone (Ghent University) Organizers: Janna Coomans, Lola Digard and Léa Hermenault You can watch the recording of this workshop here

  • Approaches to Life and Health in Medieval Cities – Online Workshop

Featuring the launch of the Healthscaping WebGIS

Friday, 25 June 2021, 15:00-18:00 CEST/ 9:00-12:00 EST


15:00 Introduction: Launching the Healthscaping Map Guy Geltner, University of Amsterdam and Monash University 15:10 Mapping Public Health Measures in Late Medieval Bologna Taylor Zaneri, University of Amsterdam 15:40 Pollution Issues in Late Medieval Bologna from the Fiscal Sources’ Point of View Rosa Smurra, University of Bologna 16:10 The Demographic and Health Context and Consequences of Plague in Medieval London Sharon DeWitte, University of South Carolina 17:00 Discussant Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto You can watch the recording of this workshop here.

  • Pigs and Plague: Public Health and Community in the Late Medieval Low Countries – Online Lecture

Friday, 18 June 2021, 16.00 CEST

Janna Coomans will give a lecture for the digital lectures series organized and hosted every fortnight by Somewhere beyond the Sea, the Belgo-British Research Network. The talk is titled ‘ Pigs and Plague: Public Health and Community in the Late Medieval Low Countries’.

  • Social, Legal and Emotional Aspects of Conflicts in Western Europe, 1300-1600 – Online Workshop

Thursday. 13 May 2021 16:00-18:00 CEST

In premodern societies, the notions of honour and reputation helped to frame social interactions on different scales. On a personal and familial level, pursuing honour was a way to secure economic and social safety through the establishment of networks of professional cooperation and community support. On a communal level, claiming honour was a way to consolidate alliances between cities, states and professional groups. A challenged honour could be the basis for legal disputes or become conflictual, potentially leading to cycles of courtroom battles and violent retaliation that represented a threat to individuals and communities. However, violent retaliations, despite representing a threat to social cohesion on various scales, had the major advantage of restoring social positions, by reclaiming honour. Thus, in premodern societies conflicts around honour were part of a set of behavioural forms that helped define social structures of alliances and division. This set of behaviours, which has been termed an ‘economy of honour’, involved strategies in which the benefits and risks of challenging honour and using violence were carefully calculated, since these behaviours represented economic, social and political risks. In these strategies, legal contests occupied an important position, since the social standing of an individual, and the reputation of a group could help legal decisions to be made in their favour, while proving that the honour of an individual or a group that had been threatened could legally justify violent retaliations that were perceived as necessary to reclaim honour. Honour and the practices surrounding it are also deeply embedded in social constructs, and the attitudes surrounding honour and violence have evolved across time. While historically minded sociologists such as Norbert Elias, Pieter Spierenburg and Steven Pinker have associated this evolution of attitudes to the ‘civilisation process’ and a subsequent decline of violent interactions surrounding honour, recent scholarship has challenged this view, and has been highly critical of the normative claims embedded in the concept of a civilisation process. Analysis of archival sources conducted by Barbara Hanawalt and Trevor Dean, for instance, has highlighted how court records, guilds and city statutes give a much more nuanced vision of the perceived violence of premodern societies, and demonstrated the many ways in which honour could be displayed, protected and strategically manipulated by individuals and governments to fulfil their agendas. Recent scholarship has also challenged views regarding the groups involved in conflicts surrounding honour, initially perceived as the reserved field of noble men. Manon van der Heijden and Cynthia J. Johnson have highlighted that women actively participated in honour-related conflicts, while Claude Gauvard, Andrea Zorzi and Kate MacGrath have shown how the pursuit of honour was applicable to every layer of society. This workshop focuses on the way conflicts participated in defining interactions between individuals and groups in Western Europe between the 14th and the 16th centuries. It aims, first, to explore the similarities and differences between honour-related conflicts on different scales. Were honour-oriented conflicts used in the same way to navigate social interactions between individuals and groups? Next, it seeks to interrogate how legal systems were adapted (or not) to handle the honourable aspect of conflicts, and what paths did legal procedures create for the restoration of honour to litigants. Finally, it will investigate how emotions could influence claims to honour and conflictual interactions. On an individual level, how are some forms of violence that lead to loss of honour, if not bodily integrity, tied to self-esteem, self-perception and emotional reactions? On a group level, how can the sense of belonging to a professional association or an urban community influence the emotional and behavioural response to perceived threats to the honour of that group?

  • Scorned honour and ill repute: Emotional, social and legal implications of honour in the pacification office (Ghent, 1350-1400). Lola Digard, Phd Candidate, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • More things are necessary for a household than four naked thighs”: Honor, material culture and late medieval marriage. Dr. Anna Boeles Rowland, Research Fellow, KU Leuven
  • Trust issues: reputation in conflicts around trade and debt in Northern European cities (c.1400-1550). Christian Manger, Phd Candidate, Universiteit van Amsterdam, and Ester Zoomer, Phd Candidate, Universiteit van Amsterdam
 Respondent: Dr. Daniel Lord Smail, Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Online Seminar: The Dynamics of Healthscaping

Friday, 31 July 2020, 16:00 – 17:00 (CEST)

Urban History summer seminar’s third paper in this series comes from the winners of Urban History‘s Dyos Prize for 2020, Dr. Taylor Zaneri and Professor Guy Geltner. This paper traces how urban communities operating with a humoral or Galenic medical paradigm understood and confronted the health challenges facing them, using the extraordinarily well-documented case of Bologna, Italy. Working within a GIS environment, the authors spatially analyse over 3,500 events recorded by the Ufficio del fango concerning violations of the city’s health-related ordinances, augmented by other demographic and material data. As such, the study not only adds specificity to recent attempts to enrich the field of pre-modern public health, but also demonstrates that the Bolognese administration had a sophisticated and evolving understanding of communal health risks, and exposes several discrepancies between policy and practice. This talk will be held on Google Meet, the link to which will be made available 48 hours before the talk. This seminar will be recorded and made available online at www.cambridge.org/urbanhistoryseminars. This seminar series is jointly organised by Urban History and the Urban History Group. We are grateful to the journal’s New Initiatives Fund for initial funding support.

  • The Silk Roads as a Model for Exploring Eurasian Transmissions of Medical Knowledge: Online Workshop

Online Workshop with Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim Thursday, 28 May 2020, 15:00-17:00 (CEST)

How can we begin to think about transmissions of medical knowledge in medieval Eurasia? What type of work can be done in order to engage with this question? Can the “Silk Road” help us to engage with this question? This workshop will discuss some of the directions these questions raise. We will begin our discussion with some of the points I made in “The Silk-Roads as a model for exploring Eurasian transmissions of medical knowledge: views from the Tibetan medical manuscripts of Dunhuang,” (in: Pamela Smith, ed., Entangled Itineraries of Materials, Practices, and Knowledge: Eurasian Nodes of convergence and transformation, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019, pp. 47-62), and continue with some of the broader questions which this chapter raises. Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim is a Reader in the History Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research deals with the history of Asian medicine and the transmission of medical knowledge along the so-called ‘Silk-Roads’, looking at ways in which Asian and European medical knowledge have been interacting. Yoeli-Tlalim has co-edited three volumes with Anna Akasoy and Charles Burnett: Rashīd al-Dīn as an Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran (2013); Islam and Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes (2011) and Astro-Medicine: Astrology and Medicine, East and West (2008). She has also co-edited (with Vivienne Lo) the Silk Roads Special Issue of Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity (2007). Her book ReOrienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters along the Silk Roads, is forthcoming with Bloomsbury (2021). She is a member of the Translating Medicine in the Premodern World working group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

  • ‘Public Health’ in the Middle Ages: Healthscaping Urban Europe

Bijeenkomst van de werkgroep ‘History, Health and Healing’ vrijdag 7 februari 2020, 13.00-18.00 uur Universiteitsbibliotheek locatie Uithof, Heidelberglaan 3, Utrecht (Boothzaal)

Tijdens deze bijeenkomst van de werkgroep HHH presenteren leden van de onderzoeksgroep ‘Healthscaping Urban Europe’ hun onderzoek. Na een inleiding van Prof. Guy Geltner, die het project coördineert, volgen drie presentaties die vervolgens worden gerefereerd door twee specialisten: een in de mediëvistiek, en een in de geschiedenis van public health. Daarna is er plenaire discussie en een borrel.

  • Early Public Health Wikithon

Wednesday, 29 January 2020, 15:30 CET Bushuis, room F2.08B (Kloveniersburgwal 48 Amsterdam)

Facilitated by Guy Geltner (UvA) and Alice White (Wellcome Trust)

We invite you all to join the Premodern Healthscaping team to make a focused intervention on Public Health History and a handful of related entries on Wikipedia in languages other than English, Dutch, Italian, French and Farsi (as these are already being covered by the team members). Anyone interested in participating or just following the event on social media, please look at the brief instructions below. We view this above all as a preliminary exercise to identify the inevitably numerous lacunae that still exist on Wikipedia from your perspective. Feel free to create (and share!) your own “to do” list, and organize follow-up events. Live tweeting via @ProSanitate #EarlyPubHealth and #Wikithon

  • Representations of Circulation and Flow in Eleventh-Century Urban China – A Workshop with Christian de Pee

Thursday, 6 February 2020, 15:00-17:00.

Oost-Indisch Huis, D2.04 (Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam)

This workshop is dedicated to discussing Christian de Pee’s recent work on representations of circulation and flow in eleventh-century urban China, as part of his current book project Losing the Way in the City: Urban Life and Intellectual Crisis in Middle-Period China, 800-1100. If you wish to attend the workshop, please contact us (premodern.healthscaping@gmail.com) to receive the text. Christian de Pee is an associate professor at the University of Michigan and at this moment a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden. Christian de Pee’s previous publications include The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China: Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries and the edited volume Senses of the City: Perceptions of Hangzhou and the Southern Song books.

  • Turning Global with Public Health: How to Move Beyond Networks of Prophylactic Knowledge and Communities of Practice in Preindustrial Europe

Friday, 12 July 2019, 9:00-10:45

Premodern Healthscaping will present recent developments in health history during The Pursuit of Global Urban History conference at University of Leicester. Chair: Janna Coomans, University of Amsterdam Organizers: Guy Geltner and Janna Coomans, University of Amsterdam Panel: Geneviève Dumas, University of Sherbrooke, and Claire Weeda, Leiden University Taylor Zaneri, University of Amsterdam, and Roos van Oosten, Leiden University Guy Geltner, University of Amsterdam This panel will present recent developments in health history that focus on preventative programs in a variety of premodern urban contexts and interrogates their relevance to comparative and global history. Insights achieved by public health historians and medical archaeologists working across western European cities have challenged a common tendency to see public health as a response to the Industrial Revolution, one that was uniquely enabled by modernization. But can pushing against a hegemonic paradigm of Euro-American modernity from the perspective of earlier European experiences provide relevant, non-hegemonic tools for scholars working in different regions and eras, with different sources and intellectual genealogies, but burdened by a similar teleology? Panelists will reflect on their diverse methods of knowledge production and findings as an invitation to discuss emic and non-essentialized approaches to urban health as a fruitful way to pursue global history, on the one hand, and resist the sovereignty of Western periodization on the other.

  • Policing the Urban Environment in Premodern Europe; Symposium and Book Launch

Thursday, 20 June 2019, 14:00-17:00

Bushuis, F2.08B (Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam)

You are warmly invited to attend the symposium and book launch of Policing the Urban Environment in Premodern Europe, edited by Carole Rawcliffe and Claire Weeda.

Program Symposium

14.00-14.40| Carole Rawcliffe (University of East Anglia) Cleaning up the Middle Ages: A Few Words about Policing the Urban Environment 14.50-15.30| Fritz Dross (Institut für Geschichte und Ethik der Medizin) “Portzel” – A Premodern Piece on Public Health and Public Order 15.30-15.50| Coffee and Tea Break 15.50-16.30| Jane Stevens Crawshaw (Oxford Brookes University) Broken Bridges and Crowded Calle: Policing Urban Ideals and Realities in Early Modern Venice 16.30-17.00| Claire Weeda (Leiden University) Closing Remarks The event will be followed by drinks from 17.00 at Café Luxembourg (Spui 24, Amsterdam). Policing the Urban Environment in Premodern Europe, ed. by Carole Rawcliffe and Claire Weeda, is published by Amsterdam University Press in the series Premodern Crime and Punishment. Contributors: Elma Brenner, Janna Coomans, Luke Demaitre, Catherine Dubé, Geneviève Dumas, G. Geltner, Annemarie Kinzelbach, Patrick Naaktgeboren, Carole Rawcliffe, Claire Weeda. Tapping into a combination of court documents, urban statutes, material artefacts, health guides and treatises, Policing the Urban Environment in Premodern Europe offers a unique perspective on how premodern public authorities tried to create a clean, healthy environment. Overturning many preconceptions about medieval dirt and squalor, it presents the most outstanding recent scholarship on how public health norms were enforced in the judicial, religious and socio-cultural sphere before the advent of modern medicine and the nation-state, crossing geographical and linguistic boundaries and engaging with factors such as spiritual purity, civic pride and good neighbourliness.

  • Premodern Healthscaping in China

Saturday, 1 June 2019, 08:30-11:30

Guy Geltner and Taylor Zaneri will present their paper Mapping Health in Medieval Bologna: A Geospatial and Environmental Approach in Renmin University of China (Beijing) during a two-day conference titled The Nature of Health, the Health of Nature: Perspectives from History and the Humanities. You can read more about the conference here.

  • Water, Urban Space and Environment 1200-1700: Workshop with Chloe Deligne

Tuesday, 21 May 2019, 10:00-12:00

Oudemanhuispoort (Oudemanhuispoort 4-6), Room C1.23

As part of the ERC Healthscaping workshop series, Chloe Deligne will host a workshop on water, urban space and environment 1200-1700, with a specific focus on the Low Countries and Brussels.  A complex negotiation and manipulation of water resources, both within cities and in the countryside, created specific social-economic opportunities and challenges for late medieval and early modern people, including concerns of pollution and health risks. This makes water management and the often intricate and highly technical creation of water infrastructures a crucial but still often-overlooked factor shaping local politics and mode of coexistence. Chloe Deligne is senior researcher at the Fonds de le Recherche scientifique (FRS-FNRS) Brussels since 2006. She has published extensively on the environmental history and the transformation of urban space under the influence of social, cultural, ecological and political factors. Adopting a long-term perspective and socio-spatial analysis are characteristic features of her work.

  • Healthscaping and Ideas of Balance: A Workshop with Joel Kaye

Thursday, 4 April 2019, 13:00-16:00

Vondelzaal, University Library (Singel 425)

Participants are warmly invited to join the workshop with Joel Kaye on ideas of balance and their impact on perceptions of public health in premodern thoughts and practices. Participants can give ten minute presentations on their own research, engaging with Joel Kaye’s A History of Balance, after which a discussion will follow. Joel Kaye is Professor of History at Barnard College/Columbia University. His scholarly interests center on medieval intellectual history, with special interests in the history of science and the history of economic and political thought. His recent research focuses historical inquiry on the subject of balance. In 2014 he published A History of Balance, c. 1250-1375: The Emergence of a New Model of Equilibrium and Its Impact on Thought (C.U.P.).  In 2015 The American Philosophical Society awarded this book its annual Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History. Previous publications also include Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought.

  • “Models of Balance and Their Role in the Formation of Ideas, 1250-1375” – Public Lecture by Joel Kaye

03 April 2019, 16:00-18:00.

University Library (Singel 425), Doelenzaal

Joel Kaye’s presentation centers on the changing ways that balance has been modeled over historical time and the profound impact these changing models exercise in the realm of ideas.  In the period of European history on which he will focus, and for the most part still today, the sense of balance’s presence or absence underlies the most crucial of human judgments: the assessment of what is ordered or disordered, beautiful or ugly, productive or destructive, healthy or sick.  While we can all recognize the breadth of meaning attached to the ideal of balance, we rarely imagine that this ideal — or the un-worded interior sense that underlies it — is susceptible to major changes within specific historical contexts.  In contrast, he hopes to provide evidence for a series of claims:  1) balance has a history;  2) between approximately 1250 and 1350  a manifestly new sense of balance and its potentialities emerged and evolved within the upper levels of university speculation; 3) this complex new sense found organization and form in a new model of balance, which represented a decisive break with the intellectual past;  4) at the model’s root lay momentous developments in medieval economic life and thought; and finally, 5) due to the utter centrality of balance as an ideal in sphere after sphere of scholastic speculation, profound changes in its modeling over this period had the effect of opening up striking new vistas of speculative possibility, making possible a profound reconceptualization of the world and its workings.

  • Medical History and Legal Systems: Public Lecture by Sara Butler

Monday, 28 January 2019, 17:00-20:00

Belle van Zuylenzaal, University Library (Singel 425)

This workshop will explore the links between medical knowledge and judicial systems in late medieval Europe. Abstract: Common law was an all-male system, with one glaring exception: juries of matrons. If a convicted felon requested a reprieve from execution on the grounds of pregnancy, it was the responsibility of a group of twelve matrons to perform an inspection in order to determine if she was in fact pregnant. Matrons were in a position of great authority. Their verdicts were definitive: if they decided a woman was pregnant, then she was sent back to prison. Despite the significance of their role, little is known about medieval matrons and what qualified them to sit on a jury. Were they mothers? Honorable wives? Midwives? The goal of this paper is to argue that matrons had training in obstetrics. This was particularly important for medieval matrons because the quickening (that is ensoulment, signaled by the first fetal movements) did not become the focal point of the matrons’ assessment until at least 1348.  Before this, the diagnosis was much more medically challenging as matrons had to determine whether a felon had conceived. Overall, the medieval records demonstrate great confidence in medieval matrons and their obstetrical expertise. Sara Butler is a professor and King Georges III Chair in British history at the Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the social history of law. Her latest book, Forensic Medicine and Death Investigation in Medieval England (Routledge 2015) explores the use of medical knowledge in legal investigations surrounding death.

  • Preserving the Past in 3D. Application of GIS and Photogrammetry to Human Burials

Thursday, 13 December 2018, 17:00-20:00

Oudemanhuispoort (Oudemanhuispoort 4-6), Room C1.23

Presentation and Workshop with Francesco Coschino and Taylor Zaneri

This workshop presents preliminary results of an urban health analysis of medieval Bologna, as part of the Healthscaping Urban Europe project; this project is examining medieval health in Italy and the Low Countries, from AD 1200 to 1500. What was city life like in medieval Bologna? What were the health risks urban dwellers faced? This research uses GIS to correlate archaeological and historical information relating to urban infrastructure, waste disposal, and population before and after the Black Death. It examines how health and urban cleanliness differed within and around Bologna during this critical period, and how health promoting strategies changed over time. Francesco Coschino is a Medieval Archaeologist and Paleopathologist at the University of Pisa, Italy. He is the president of IRLAB (Institute for Research and Learning in Archaeology and Bioarchaeology), USA. His research interests involve archaeology, humanistic informatics, paleopathology and physical anthropology; he is particularly interested in computer models and their applications to collection and management of anthropological data. He is involved in anthropological/archaeological research and professional archaeological excavations and collaborates with Italian universities and institutions as well as Ohio State University. Taylor Zaneri is a medieval archaeologist from New York. Her dissertation research examined the impact of lower-class rural producers in the emergence of the medieval city-state of Lucca, using geospatial, landscape, and zooarchaeological methods. She is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher as part of Dr. Guy Gelter’s Healthscaping Urban Europe project, using GIS to examine health and cleanliness in medieval Italian cities from 1200-1500.

  • Actor-Network Theory and Premodern Historiography: A Workshop with Markus Stauff

Thursday, 29 November 2018, 17:00-20:00

Oudemanhuispoort (Oudemanhuispoort 4-6), Room C1.23

In this workshop, Markus Stauff will discuss some core text on Actor-Network Theory and together we will examine possibilities and limitations of applying this theory to analysing various geographical and historical contexts. To register and receive more detailed information, please send an email to premodern.healthscaping@gmail.com. Markus Stauff is an Assistant Professor for Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. His fields of research include history and theory of the television; digital media; media sports; governmentality studies and cultural studies.

  • The Path to Pistoia: An Infrastructural Approach to Urban Hygiene before The Black Death

02 November 2018, 16:00-18:00.

Bushuis (Kloveniersburgwal 48), room E1.02.

In the second seminar of UvA Medieval Historians, Guy Geltner will discuss his new artile “The Path to Pistoia: An Infrastructural Approach to Urban Hygiene before The Black Death”.
  • New Horizons in Premodern Public Health: An Interdisciplinary Workshop with Kathleen Davis

Thursday, 4 October 2018, 13:00-16:00

Potgieterzaal, University Library (Singel 425)

During this workshop, members of the research team, in dialogue with Kathleen Davis, discuss various aspects of the Premodern Healthscaping research project. Kathleen Davis is Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has worked in the fields of Old and Middle English literature, translation studies, and postcolonial criticism. Most recently, her engagement with colonial histories and postcolonial theory led her to examine the periodizing process that gave us the categories of the “medieval” and the “modern,” and to investigate the relation of that process to colonial rule. She is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time; and co-editor, with Nadia Altschul, of Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of “the Middle Ages” Outside Europe. Professor Davis has also worked on Old English literature and Old and Middle English translation, and is the author of Deconstruction and Translation.

  • “From Periodization to the Autoimmune Secular State” – Kathleen Davis

03 October 2018, 16:00-18:00.

Bushuis (Kloveniersburgwal 48), VOC room.

My main concern in this talk is the fundamental but often unrecognized work (political, legal, historical) that is accomplished by medieval/modern periodization. By medieval/modern periodization I mean the constitution of the period that we call “the Middle Ages” and its simultaneous distinction from the co-constituted “modern.” I will detail the scope and structure of this periodization and will argue, as I’ve done before, that the constitution of this Middle Ages operated as a space-clearing, exclusionary process that was fully enmeshed with the projects of colonialism. The interrelation of periodization and colonialism was crucial to the formation of academic disciplines and the categories they study, ultimately buttressing both the hegemony of the “modern” that has been so difficult to assail and the apparent undeniability of certain “early modern” events as foundational to politics as it is understood to operate today. It is very difficult to shake off a period concept such as “the Middle Ages” when the effects of its formation saturate every thread of one’s discipline.  I will also argue that the colonial legacy of this periodization fully inhabits the categories of the secular and sovereignty, as well as the intersection of these two, and that it is therefore implicated in the autoimmune process of the secular state, which I will address at the end of this talk.

  • Premodern Public Health: Comparing Cities 1250-1750

Thursday 30th August 2018 Room 22 09:00-10:30, 11:00-12:30

Address: Department of Business Studies – Roma Tre University, Via Silvio d’Amico 77 – 00145 Roma.
This session aims to bring together scholars engaged in research into public health strategies and interventions, and resilience thereto, in late medieval and early modern urban communities. This is a dynamic area of research, which is revealing the myriad of ways in which urban public health policies and practices aimed at creating healthier environments. In particular, a consideration of preventive rather than simply curative measures have revealed new spaces of medical practice, including streets, homes and workplaces alongside large civic healthcare institutions, as well as broader communities of practitioners. Until recently, medical and environmental history’s main focus steered towards post-plague epidemiology, the development of humoural theory, or hospital institutions offering physical and spiritual care. Social and medical historians, together with archaeologists, are, however, increasingly engaging in interdisciplinary research into preventative health measures directed at and/or implemented by an urban public. Crossing geographical, disciplinary, and linguistic boundaries, this session aims to further increase understanding of how late medieval and early modern urban governments attempted to regulate urban public health through statutes and bye-laws, policed by officials and prosecuted by the judiciary, as well as responses thereto from industries, guilds, brotherhoods, communities and individuals. These dynamics of communication and contestation will be carefully situated within the built environments they helped to shape.


09:00–10:30 The View from the Street: Leet Courts as Agents of Sanitary Policing in Late Medieval English Cities.Carole Rawcliffe
Preserving and Building Healthy Urban Spaces: Solutions and Conflicts in Premodern Imperial Cities and Towns.Annemarie Kinzelbach
Minds in the Gutter: Corruption in Late Medieval Valencia.Abigail Agresta
10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-12:30 Health Matters: Defining the Bonum Commune in Conflicts in Late Medieval Italy and the Low Countries.Claire Weeda
Learning from the Countryside: Field Masters (camparii) and Urban Healthscaping in Later Medieval Piedmont.Guy Geltner
Pre-industrial Water Management in Flemish Metropoli: Drawing from Archaeological Water Facilities.Roos van Oosten
Coordinators: Janna Coomans (j.coomans@uva.nl), Jane Stevens Crawshaw (jane.stevens- crawshaw@brookes.ac.uk), Claire Weeda (c.v.weeda@hum.leidenuniv.nl) You can find more information at EAUH Conference 2018.
  • New Horizons in Premodern Public Health: A Workshop with Carole Rawcliffe

Thursday 7 June 2018, 15.30-18.00

Potgieterzaal | UB, Singel 425, Amsterdam

This workshop offers an interdisciplinary exchange between several experts in premodern public health. Carole Rawcliffe, author of Urban Bodies: Communal Health in Late Medieval English Towns and Cities (2013), one of the defining publications within the nascent field, will perform as an expert commentator on four presentations, ranging from the cultural history of medicine to urban archaeology. Carole Rawcliffe is Professor Emerita of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. She has published widely on the subject of medieval medicine (both spiritual and physical), hospitals, urban health and responses to disease. Together with Claire Weeda, she has edited the forthcoming volume Policing the Urban Environment in Premodern Europe (Amsterdam University Press). Other books include Medicine and Society in Later Medieval England (1995); Medicine for the Soul (1999); Leprosy in Medieval England (2006).  She also co-edited a collection of essays on East Anglia’s History (2002), a two-volume History of Norwich (2004) and a book of essays on Society in an Age of Plague (2011).


15.30-16.00.  Guy Geltner:  “General Introduction and Research Possibilities in Italy: Urban History, Archaeology and Culture” 16.00-16.30. Claire Weeda: “Organic Politics: Tying Together Public Health Theories, Politics and Practices. 16.30.  Break 16.45- 17.15. Roos van Oosten: “Mapping Health in a GIS Environment: Plague”. 17.15- 17.45.  Janna Coomans: “Healthscaping the Late Medieval Low Countries: Agents and Challenges.” 18.00  Drinks

  • Public Lecture – “Premodern Public Health: The End of an Oxymoron?”

Wednesday 18 April, 2018 at Monash University, Australia.

A video recording of the lecture in Monash University “Premodern Public Health: The End of an Oxymoron” is available online: https://arts.monash.edu/news/premodern-public-health-lecture

  • History Research Seminar: “In the Camp and on the March: How Armies Shaped Public Health History in the Premodern World”

Guy Geltner (UvA) 8 March 201815:00–17:00 – VOC-zaal, Bushuis Public health is widely viewed as a modern pursuit, enabled especially by the emergence of democratic nation states, centralized bureaucracies and advanced medicine. While social, urban and religious historians have begun chipping away at the entrenched dichotomy between pre/modernity that this view implies, evidence for community-level prophylactics in earlier societies also emerges from a group of somewhat unexpected sources, namely military manuals. Texts composed for (and often by) army leaders in medieval Latin Europe, Byzantium and other premodern civilizations spotlight the importance of preventative healthcare well before democratization, mass urbanization and biomedicine, thus paving a new path for historicizing biopolitics from a transregional or even global perspective. Moreover, at least in the context of medieval Europe, military manuals also demonstrate the enduring appeal of Hippocratic and Galenic medicine and how that tradition continued to shape the routines and material culture of vulnerable communities such as armies, centuries after their original articulation. The lecture is free and open to the public. Drinks reception to follow. Please contact the organizers if you would like to join the speaker for dinner afterwards, at your own cost.(m.s.parry@uva.nl / J.J.V.Kuitenbrouwer@uva.nl)