Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)


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All the personal seals found in Ribe were found in the ground but the 2 medieval town seals known in Ribe were never in the ground, they have been kept by Ribe town Council ever since The Middle Ages and are 2 of the best preserved town seals in Denmark.

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Both can be seen in the museum of the Old Town Hall in Ribe. These 2 are the only known town seals from Ribe and they were used for centuries, probably already from the 13th century when the first known town privileges were granted Ribe by the Danish kings and Ribe made its own law , but the first known imprints are from Often the seal of important people was broken before it was placed in the grave so that nobody could misuse it if they took it.

He also tried to kill a prominent man in the Cathedral and he wrote false letters that he sealed with the towns seal. Seals found in Ribe town Until 19 medieval seals have been found in Ribe town only Roskilde has found more. These 19 are the real seals found, but more different seals are known from imprints. From the 19 found Ribe seals are only known imprints from the 2 town seals.


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The 2 Ribe town seals The big Ribe town seal 8,9cm diameter is known from imprints from — Maybe it has been used longer. Ribe town arms used the same picture. The seal is made from bronze. The picture shows the Virgin Mary with the child. The normal prison for the common law-breakers was in the cellar. The collection contains part of the town archives going back to the Middle Ages. Many items of interest associated with the town are from this period. Physicians attended the municipal university, while the education of surgeons and apothecaries was an apprenticeship system overseen exclusively by their own guilds and regulated by their respective colleges.

The processes negotiated to assure professional competency included an examination with theoretical and practical components. The practical exam was administered by other professionals acting under the auspices of municipal authorities and overseen by two examiners. Thus, the situation in Valencia was to a great extent comparable with what we find in other nearby European countries, even those as far away as Scandinavia.

But while physicians held a near monopoly over all medical practice in Valencia, there was frequently resistance.


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  • The colleges of pharmacy and surgery did not submit docilely and were unwilling to give university physicians control over other healing professions, such as that of midwives, who had formerly been overseen by surgeons. Although it is unclear when this organization came into existence, by it had, in accordance with the law of , undertaken to prosecute and punish those who practised medicine without having graduated from the local university.

    Despite this, it seems that there was some tension between academic and professional physicians due to the fact that the Collegi , during the seventeenth century, was composed of eight professors of medicine and roughly fifty practising physicians. In any case, the group was dedicated to the same ends as most guilds: the defence of their economic interests against the encroachment of potential competitors, support of the families of physicians who had died, and the fight against the curtailment of their power by outside influences.

    The colleges of surgeons and apothecaries were very powerful guilds that scrupulously oversaw everything related to their activities. Valencian surgeons were essentially trained artisans. Often they were specially trained barbers who were allowed to render only external medical treatment, such as bleedings. I have been able to determine that the College of Surgeons vigorously prosecuted the exercise of empirical medicine as well as those who visited and cured the sick without proper authorization and examination.

    Proceedings relating to a variety of such prosecutions have been found: one concerns a midwife who apparently carried out practices beyond the usual duties of her profession; another of a textile worker who cut hair and shaved; others describe widows who kept open the dispensaries that had belonged to their husbands without the assistance or supervision of a certified surgeon. This was one of the principal functions of the guilds, along with education.

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    It was on this nexus of powerful local institutions and regulating bodies that Philip II attempted to impose the Protomedicato in the middle of the sixteenth century. Clearly, the conflicts that arose were not simply the unexpected consequences of a political misstep on the part of the king; instead, the imposition of the Protomedicato formed part of a concerted attempt to limit the powers of municipalities and individual realms.

    We have been able to determine that, although the office had existed previously in a different form, the Protomedicato was instituted in the kingdom of Valencia during the s. None of those nominated to Valencia by the Spanish kings, however, was ever able fully to carry out the tasks associated with the job. An exhaustive enumeration of all the health care resources and healing alternatives that existed in Valencia during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is beyond the scope of this study. To summarize very briefly, however, I can say that in addition to medicine based on traditional Galenism, 32 exercised by those who operated within the established legal framework—that is, the physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries that, as we have just seen, were well organized and attempted to control everything related to health and sickness—we have confirmed the existence of other practices and practitioners.

    Among them were many empirical healers, itinerant salesmen, curanderos with charismatic healing powers, and even licensed physicians who practised non-Galenic medicine. In what follows, I would like to discuss in greater detail four such examples that were found through extensive archival research into the mechanisms of medical repression.

    A variety of empirical healers practised in early modern Valencia, some with legal permission. In Valencia during this period, as elsewhere in Europe, women were entirely excluded from the regulated exercise of medicine; this was due not only to prohibitions against their attending medical school, but also because they were not admitted to the guilds of surgeons and apothecaries. Because of this, they had to practise in unregulated occupations, as was the case with midwives, or to perform curative activities outside the limits of regulation.

    Their primary task was to assist in childbirth, an office over which women had exclusive control for centuries, although they did not form part of an organized group in any European country and had no collective identity. However, when they were accused of encroachment i. This is what happened to Marina Nadal, who was accused of administering medicines to women in labour and of carrying out surgical treatments on the chest of some sick women, with the result, according to the surgeons, that the patients succumbed to fever.

    However, while problems did arise when midwives carried out treatments that exceeded the scope of things related to childbirth or when they administered medicines, they were never persecuted for carrying out their designated tasks. Midwives were in fact central figures in the life of the community and enjoyed considerable social power. In , for example, two midwives or madrinas examined and certified Caterina Gallarda to be a virgin, after her future husband cast doubt upon her maidenhood. The number and type of other empirical practices was considerable and varied widely. Some empiricists practised their profession in an official capacity.

    He was also obliged to live within the city of Valencia. This power did not result from a pact with the devil, but was a sign of divine grace.

    Despite being faith healers, they were not bothered by the authorities in the least; neither did they encroach upon the professional terrain of academically trained practitioners, nor were their practices considered heretical. Saludadores were highly esteemed and were contracted by local governments large and small, in Valencia and in the other realms of the peninsula. This position was occupied in by a woman named Josefa Medina, who had previously been given a licence confirming her powers by the Archbishop of Valencia.

    Introduction

    Moreno conducted the examinations in the same way that examiners of physicians and surgeons did: they were open to all applicants and were held in the presence of the municipal authorities. In addition, those being examined would have to extinguish a red-hot bar of metal and a piece of glowing silver by placing their tongues upon them. If they were able to pass these tests, and after taking an oath, the city granted them a legal licence to practise. In the case of one aspirant, Juan Sans de Ayala, after passing the test and demonstrating his ability as a healer, he was named the official saludador of the city.

    He was paid no salary, but was granted the privilege of wearing and adorning his house with the arms of the city. Another example of a folk healer is Francesch Navarro, about whom we have a great deal of information, thanks to a suit alleging professional encroachment lodged against him by the College of Surgeons in before the Real Audiencia. In the trial, Francesch Navarro declared himself to be a resident of Cuenca, but had moved to Valencia with his family. He added that he charged nothing for this and that the cure took place quickly.

    The fact that this ability is innate and requires no instruction means that such healers rarely undergo any medical training, formal or otherwise. In other words, the basic element of the therapeutic activity of Francesch Navarro was grace, as in the case of the great majority of the folk healers practising at present in the same geographic area. Navarro requested a licence conferring the right to carry out such cures legally in the city of Valencia, and a witness report that would attest to the demonstration of the cures he performed.

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    Both of these were granted, and the report includes the declarations of nine men who were satisfactorily cured. These witnesses were eight craftsmen from the city of Valencia and a farm worker from Campanar a village close to the city , aged between twenty and twenty-four, apart from one who said he was eighteen and another of thirty.

    Only three of the nine could sign their name. They were, in other words, nine young men of working age and belonging to the lower strata of society, for whom work was their only means of support. The declarations of the nine witnesses begin by relating how they got hurt, usually during a fight, and details of the wound.

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    After this, all the witnesses declared that they went to a surgeon to have their wounds cured in their botigas. The other three witnesses were treated by surgeons for longer periods. There are two very important factors to take into account at this point since they explain to a great extent why people went to folk healers after failing to be cured by surgeons.

    The first is the socio-economic factor: the terrible problems faced by people in the social stratum to which the witnesses belonged when illness prevented them from working. Being unable to work meant that they no longer had any economic means of support and therefore became poor, i. Navarro, as was said repeatedly during the witness declaration, did not charge for his services. Even today, folk healers often accept only voluntary donations. Secondly, unlike the drawn-out and painful operations of surgeons, folk healers did no harm and relieved pain in a short time, as certain witnesses such as Joan Climent stated expressly.

    In other words, the folk healer was entitled to practise in the city for two reasons. First, the diocese of Valencia had confirmed that the prayers he said were Catholic and not heretical. Second, he employed only simple, not compound, remedies, i. Consequently, if Navarro had used any type of compound medicine, he would perhaps have had more problems not only with the surgeons but also with the apothecaries.

    Finally he did not charge anything for his services. One must remember how important it was, from the encroachment standpoint, that this folk healer did not use any medicine, make diagnoses, or—and this is particularly important because the charge against him was brought by surgeons—perform any surgical operations like those carried out by the surgeons seen previously by the patients who testified.

    This is why, together with the fact that the prayers did not contradict Catholic teaching, he was allowed to continue practising. This provision means that the authorities deemed the activities of Francesch Navarro to be totally legal and that they therefore constituted an alternative to that of the medicine practised by physicians and surgeons. Similarly, the sale of medicines at the margins of regulated trade was commonplace in Valencia.

    In Spain, as in the rest of Europe, 54 panaceas for the cure of one or a variety of ailments, whether provided by curanderos or by members of the academic world, represented a flourishing business. Many of those who provided these medicines, even when they had official licences, found themselves accused of infringing the privileges granted to other practitioners.

    Balsamo maintained that this compound had cured many people of cold disease not only in the city of Valencia but also in Granada, Cordova, Seville and Toledo. For example, the cronista , or official historian, Gaspar Escolano, after a detailed description of all of the medicinal plants that grew wild in the kingdom, noted that these could all be found in the market, where every type of medicinal plant could be easily and freely purchased.

    The apothecaries themselves stated in their suit against Balsamo that it was the custom of their college to prosecute all those who made and sold medicines without authorization. Finally, I would like to add just one more example that illustrates the prevalence of medical pluralism. It must be borne in mind that almost one third of the population of Valencia in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century until the expulsion in was Morisco.

    However the disintegration of Islamic culture and the increasing social marginalization of the Muslim and Morisco population led to a change in the perception of the medicine they practised, accentuating empirical and superstitious practices … and de-emphasizing the figure of the professional himself … leading to a flourishing and picturesque world of folk healers, who would, in any case, have existed even if scientific medicine and its practitioners had been maintained.

    Consequently, most of the Morisco population could only avail themselves of this type of medicine—increasingly disconnected from all scientific knowledge. Morisco folk healers were frequented not only by those of the same caste, but also by Christians of all social classes.

    So far, I have focused on two different subjects: the systems of control of medical practice and the prevalence of medical pluralism, more concretely, the extra-academic medical practices at the margins of officialdom in early modern Valencian society. This focus stems as much from a medical work by him with clear Paracelsian affinities, 62 as from his two-year tenure as the holder of the only university chair dedicated to the instruction of the use of this kind of medicine in Europe at the time.

    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)
    Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark (Medieval Law and Its Practice)

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