Arabic Medicine Conquers Latin Europe, 1050-1300: Methods and Motives

The Kenan Institute and the Duke Library will hold a two-day symposium on 1-2 November 2018 entitled "Arabic Medicine Conquers Latin Europe, 1050-1300: Methods and Motives," showing how the accomplished Arabic medical writings of the medieval Middle East and Spain were discovered, translated, and assimilated by a previously wholly unsophisticated European world. The symposium will mark the opening of the exhibition of Arabic medical manuscripts at Perkins Library.

A keynote lecture by Prof. Cristina Alvarez Millán of the UNED (Madrid), "Arabic Medicine in the World of Classical Islam: Growth and Achievement" will open the symposium and exhibition on the evening of November 1 at 5:30PM.  A reception will follow.

On Friday, November 2, two panels will track the astonished Europeans as they encounter and assimilated that medicine.


Schedule of Events:

November 1: Rubenstein Library, RM 153
5PM:Exhibit tour w/ curators Sean Swanick and Rachel Ingold

5:30PM: Keynote lecture
Cristina Alvarez Millán of the UNED (Madrid), "Arabic Medicine in the World of Classical Islam: Growth & Achievement" 
Reception to follow

November 2: Rubenstein Library, RM 249

10AM:Session 1: Constantine the African & the School of Salerno

Eliza Glaze (Coastal Carolina University): “Arabic Medicine from Kaiorouan to Salerno, Monte Cassino and Beyond I”

Francis Newton (Duke): “Arabic Medicine from Kaiorouan to Salerno, Monte Cassino and Beyond II”

1pm: Session 2:  Arabic Medicine Captures the Medieval University

Michael Mcvaugh (UNC – Chapel Hill): “The Translations of Gerard of Cremona:  Did Something Go Wrong?”

1:40pm: Session 3: Jewish Translators & the Medicine of al-Andalus
Michael McVaugh (UNC – Chapel Hill) for Gerrit Bos (Cologne):  “Giovanni da Capua—a Hebrew Translator at the Papal Court”

Joseph Shatzmiller (Duke):  “Jacob ben Machir:  an Unexpected Translator of Medical Works”



Cristina Alvarez Millán

UNED (Madrid)

A specialist in medieval Islamic medicine, Professor Millán undertook extensive research for several years at the Real Academia de la Historia. 

Graduated in Semitic Philology, Arabic and Islam (1988) and PhD from the Complutense University of Madrid (1993), she joined the Department of Medieval History and CC in 2004. and TT Historiographic of the UNED with a Research Contract of the "Ramón y Cajal" Program and is currently a Professor. Specializing in medieval Islamic medicine, her doctoral thesis (edition, translation and study of Kitab al-Muyarrabat, a compilation of therapeutic prescriptions of the Andalusian doctor Abu l-'Ala 'Zuhr, father of the famous Sevillian doctor of the XII century known in the Latin tradition like Avenzoar) marked the beginning of a virtually virgin line of research: the study of clinical history as a source to know the medical practice of medieval Islam. Her research work has been developed under successive scholarships and rgrants from the MEC and other organizations. Among the latter, she obtained a grant from the prestigious Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London, where she consolidated her area of research with the study of the most extensive and oldest collection of medical histories known so far of medieval Islamic medical literature , the Kitab al-Tayarib of al-Razi, a leading figure of Eastern Arab medicine in the 10th century. The results of her research in this field have been the subject of several works in international publications, as well as papers given at international congresses and seminars and lectures at foreign universities.

After her stay of three and a half years in London she received a Spanish Post-Doctoral Fellowship to develop a broader study of the medieval Islamic autobiographical story, addressing the study of the scientific tradition of Moorish medicine, an epilogue to Islamic medicine in Spain. Later she obtained a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Community of Madrid to carry out the inventory of Arab manuscripts of the Royal Academy of History. This project, still in progress, gave rise to a second line of research centered on Pascual de Gayangos, a figure on which he has published several articles and two books in recent years.

Eliza Glaze

“Arabic Medicine from Kaiorouan to Salerno, Monte Cassino and Beyond I”
Coastal Carolina University

Eliza Glaze is Professor of History at Coastal Carolina University. Since arriving at Coastal from a Visiting Assistant professorship at the College of Charleston in August 2003, she has served also as the chair of the History Department and co-director of the University Honors Program. A strong advocate for study abroad, Glaze has led several CCU Study Abroad programs to Italy, England, and Ireland. She is currently the International Programs Liaison for the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts. 

In her teaching, Glaze explores the interstices between the intellectual and social histories of the Middle Ages, including courses on the History of Western Medicine from Greek Antiquity to the Italian Renaissance; the Norman Conquests of England, S. Italy and Sicily; the Middle Ages; the Age of Crusades; Sexuality and Gender in Medieval Europe; Manuscripts and Archives; and the Byzantine Empire. 

Glaze’s broader research interests involves identifying, collecting, and analyzing manuscript evidence to better understand patterns of medical textuality in early and high medieval Europe, of medical pedagogy and practice in and around Salerno, Italy, and the dispersal of that knowledge across Europe during the later 11th and 12th centuries. Her monograph on the subject will be published in the coming year.  Glaze’s work as co-principal investigator for the project "Excavating Medicine in a Digital Age: Palaeography and the Medical Book in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance" (inaugural meeting at has contributed to the first published book-length outcome of that meeting, a monograph examining the work of Constantine of Ifriqiya, an eleventh-century North African native who translated many Arabic medical texts into Latin after settling as a refugee in Salerno and subsequently at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, where he died “full of days” (in press, Brepols, expected 2017/18). 

Other current projects include critically editing and analyzing the origins and influence of the 11th century "Passionarius/ Liber Nosematon/ Book of Diseases" by Gariopontus of Salerno, which survives in dozens of glossed manuscripts and was far more influential than has hitherto been realized. She is completing several articles exploring the impact of the Norman conquest of southern Lombard Italy on medical thought and practices in Salerno and at the Abbey of Monte Cassino. These include tracing the integration of Byzantine and Arabic pharmaceutics into southern Italian therapeutic traditions in the eleventh century; and exploring the manuscript evidence for the empirically-driven use of thermal mineral baths in the medieval Mezzogiorno.

Francis Newton

Duke University
“Arabic Medicine from Kaiorouan to Salerno, Monte Cassino and Beyond II”

Francis Newton is Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies at Duke University.  His publications include "The Scriptorium and Library at Monte Cassino, 1058 - 1195," (Cambridge, 1999).

Michael Mcvaugh

“The Translations of Gerard of Cremona: Did Something Go Wrong?”
UNC – Chapel Hill

Michael McVaugh received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Princeton, and came to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1964 to teach the history of science in the history department of the University of North Carolina. During the late 1960s he began a close collaborative relationship with Seymour Mauskopf at Duke University, fusing the two programs in the history of science in an early anticipation of the connections that have become more common between the two schools in recent years. The two collaborated in a study of the history of parapsychology under J. B. Rhine at Duke, The Elusive Science: Origins of Experimental Psychical Research (Johns Hopkins, 1980), which was one of the early monographs to recognize what is now a commonplace, the importance of treating the history of science as more than simply a record of transcendent intellectual accomplishments.

But the bulk of Professor McVaugh’s research has centered on medicine in the medieval and early modern periods. His initial focus was on medical thought and the texts of medieval writers, and that is still a major interest; he has been one of the general editors of the Arnaldi de Villanova Opera Medica Omnia (University of Barcelona) since 1975, and has himself edited five of the thirteen volumes that have appeared in that series. Teaching the history of medicine in UNC’s Department of Social Medicine for seven years in the 1980s, however, made him aware of ways in which the social history of medieval medicine might usefully be approached. In 1981-82 with the support of his Guggenheim Fellowship he investigated archival resources pertaining to medicine and society in medieval Catalonia, and this research program culminated in his publication of Medicine before the Plague: Patients and Practitioners in the Crown of Aragon, 1285-1345 (Cambridge, 1993), which received the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine in 1994; the work describes the success of medical learning in Europe from the late thirteenth century on, and demonstrates the ensuing “medicalization” of medieval society. A second research project, on medieval surgery, led to an edition (Brill, 1997-98) of the great surgical treatise of Guy de Chauliac, the Chirurgia Magna, and to a general account of the development of the field during the thirteenth century, The Rational Surgery of the Middle Ages (SISMEL, 2006). Since 2006 he has also been collaborating with Gerrit Bos (University of Köln) on the publication of the medical writings of Maimonides, contributing editions of the Latin translations of those Arabic-language works to three of the volumes now in print.

In 1996 Professor McVaugh was named William Smith Wells Professor of History at the University of North Carolina; he retired from formal teaching in 2007. He was made a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 2005 and received the Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society in 2010.


Joseph Shatzmiller

“Jacob ben Machir: an Unexpected Translator of Medical Works”
Duke University

Dr. Shatzmiller is the author of Shylock Reconsidered: Jews, Moneylending and Medieval Society and a more recent volume on Jews, Medicine, and Medieval Society, along with numerous essays on European Jewry in the Middle Ages. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, and he has taught Jewish history at the University of Haifa and the University of Toronto.   He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Duke University.