Laurence Moulinier-Brogi – William the Englishman's De urina non visa and its fortune


Event Date: 26 May 2012
Royal Holloway, University of London
11 Bedford Sq
London WC1E 6DP

The Department of History Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Medical Prognosis in the Middle Ages

Laurence Moulinier-Brogi (University Lumière Lyon 2)
William the Englishman’s De urina non visa and its fortune

In 1220, while the majority of Western physicians based their diagnosis and prognosis on the examination of their patients’ urine, a practitioner named Guillelmus, native of England and citizen of Marseille, published a treatise with the provocative title De urina non visa (On Urine not seen). He aimed to give to his colleagues and fellows the means to judge the state of the patient based not on the urine flask, but on the configuration of the sky at the time of consultation. With this bombshell, which intended to demonstrate the superiority of astrology, Guillelmus wanted to deliver a memorial to posterity, and his desire was apparently fulfilled since his book appeared on the curriculum of the programme of the Faculty of Arts and medicine at Bologna in 1405. More surprising is the success that this little book enjoyed in religious circles, especially among friars. This paper will try to give an idea of the contents, originality and posterity of this peculiar treatise, ceaselessly copied, quoted and used till the end of the Middle Ages and beyond, but never printed. 

paper read by Jo Edge



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