Historian Gonzalo Gomez Garcia Ready to debunk a myth about medicine: the one that says “until the advent of penicillin, everything was bleeding and if you were sick, they would immediately cut off your arm or do other horrific and horrific things” and that “if you went to a hospital, you went out the back door.” Contrary to this view, professor of ancient and medieval history at the University of Francisco de Vitoria has studied thoroughly 16th century Spanish medicine To prove “a golden generation of doctors in Spain who laid the foundations of modern medicine”. “Neither magicians nor bloodsuckers, humanist doctors were the first scientists to dignify medical treatment,” he says.
Gómez García synthesizes the findings of his research into an interestingly informative book published by the Fundación Banco Santander in his Fundamental Histories collection: Heal the body and save the soul. Medical humanism in 16th century Spain and America, In addition, the work is complemented by a series of podcasts that summarize the book’s content.
Based on extensive research in archives—such as the old Antezana Hospital, a private institution with a history spanning more than five centuries—Gómez García also refutes the idea that Spain was a scientifically backward country in the 16th century, Despite this, the world’s biggest power. “That pessimism of 1898 is still alive, that sense of sadness about Spain’s history,” the author said during the presentation of the book to the press at the foundation’s headquarters on Wednesday.
Author Luis Alberto of Cuenca A member of the Royal Academy of History and present at the event, congratulated Gómez García on his work and said that his book “is not located on the balance sheet, nor on that nationalist triumphalism, that contempt for our history”. Very few, but it is objective, and objectively Spain had all the ballots to advance in many scientific, literary and artistic fields because we were a significant power.
As Gómez García points out, “at the end of the 15th century it was seen that the medieval medical model was not worth it” because it was not able to cope with “crisis as fatal” as the Black Death. In northern Italy, people began to talk about the dignity of people, which “began to lay the foundations of humanism”, and this was also reflected in medicine, patient above all and to “reintegrate them into society” as an objective.
In the 16th century, medicine became one of the three great university majors of the time, along with theology and law, and health became professional: “They were no longer charitable hospitals run by friars and where you could go out. You are going to be fine, says Gómez García, thanks to the treatment of health workers and to regain the dignity you lost on the basis of your illness or your poverty, re-established in society. The Catholic monarchs also created the Royal Tribunal of Protomedicato, which was in charge of evaluating and authorizing health professionals, something like the “MIRs of the time”.
With this commercialization of hospitals, doctors, surgeons, therapists, male and female nurses, “the foundation of modern medicine was laid as we have it today,” says the historian. Furthermore, Carlos V and Felipe II promoted physical studies to make it possible autopsya practice that was persecuted by the Inquisition.
All these advances in medicine were quickly exported America since the establishment of the first Spanish colonies. Founded in 1524 by Hernán Cortés, The Hospital de Jesus de Mexico is the oldest on the continent, and other hospitals and universities were built “for the Spaniards and the natives”, as the natives were called (in addition to “Indians”). The segregation in some hospitals had nothing to do with racism, “but because diseases were coming from Europe and to minimize indigenous people’s contact with them,” the authors say. Heal the body and save the soul.
In addition to the devastating epidemiological impact that the arrival of the Spaniards had on the indigenous population, contact between Spain and the Americas on a medical level brought great medicinal innovations to Western medicine, because Plants and remedies used by the natives were adopted.
Another feature of the medicine of the time is that the crown reduced the number of hospitals in the cities—”often established by mendicant orders and which were useless”, affirms the historian—and they began to concentrate Fewer Hospitals But Better PreparedAs for efficiency, says Gómez García, “a concept that appears to be a 21st century invention”.
Another surprising result of this advancement in health care in the 16th century comic penThey have their origins in plays that were performed in the courtyards of hospitals to entertain the sick.
In the health system of that time, the most expensive thing for the patient was not medicine, but drugs. “A good syrup can cost a tenth of your annual salary”Gomez Garcia says. According to the researcher, the crown assumed these expenses, thus reinvesting the taxes collected, particularly in the Viceroyalty of America.
heal the body and save the soul The second volume of the Fundamental Histories collection of the Banco Santander Foundation, which brings to light events, phenomena, characters, themes and writings in the history of Spain and Latin America between the 16th and 18th centuries, which, due to various circumstances, have been forgotten or has not been adequately investigated.
Francisco Javier Exposito, head of history at Fundación Banco Santander, commented that “at a time of debate on health and patient treatment, this book illuminates the history of pioneering and humanistic Spanish medicine and health science, placing us in front of a mirror from the past . Future”.