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Skin and Disease in Early Modern Medicine: Jan Jessen's De cute, et cutaneis affectibus (1601)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of the History of Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Feb 2020


King's Authors


This article examines skin and disease in early modern medicine through the writings of the little-known Bohemian physician, Jan Jessen (1566-1521). In 1601, Jessen published "On skin and the conditions of skin" De cute, et cutaneis affectibus, a set of twenty-one theses dedicated to the question of whether skin disease existed. In considering Jessen and his relationship to a broader world of writing, this article makes three arguments. First, it suggests that, contrary to existing historiography, the question of skin disease was a common sixteenth-century concern. Second, it posits a professional channel for this concern, which arose from surgery and disease, rather than from anatomy and physiology. Finally, rather than positioning Jessen at the forefront of discovery, I suggest his text functions as a representative case-study. It allows us to see material change in medicine within a stable Galenic framework.

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