Saturday, September 26, 2015

Schola Medica Salernitana: The world's first medical school

Salerno became the capital of an independent Longobard principality in 839 and the capital of the Norman duchy of Apulia in 1077. After1127 the capital of the now Norman kingdom was moved to Palermo but Salerno remained the most important city of the continental part of the kingdom.

The Salernitana School in the south Italian city of Salerno was the first medical school that provided the most important source of medical knowledge in Western Europe at the time.

The school, which found its original base in the dispensary of a monastery founded in the ninth century, achieved it utmost spender between the tenth and thirteenth centuries during which its fame began to spread throughout the region.

According to legend, the school was founded by four physicians, an Arab, a Jew, a Greek and a Latin. Although this is only a legend, it is significant as an expression of the notion that medicine transcends all cultural and ethnic barriers.  In the tenth century the place was certainly famous for the skill of its physicians; while in the first half of the twelfth century the school is described by Ordericus Vitalis as ‘existing from ancient times’.

There are some traces of the study or at least the practice of medicine here as early as the ninth century. They may have been physicians participating in Salerno before the school was founded. In the city in fact there was a hospital or hospice (St. Maximus) founded in 820 by a cleric, Adelmo.

Salernitan School drew students and physicians from many countries and had women as students and on its teaching staff.

It was given a great support in 1224 by Frederick II of Sicily who decreed that all those practicing medicine required the approval of the school.

The success of the Salernitana School encouraged the creation of other schools with simailri methods; the most famous of these were in Bologna, Padua, Pisa, and Naples in Italy and Montpellier and Paris in France.
Schola Medica Salernitana: The world's first medical school

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