Banned Books: Medicine, Readers, and Censors in Early Modern Italy, 1559-1664


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In 1574, the Inquisitor of Asti wrote to cardinals in Rome reporting that the doctors in his city were “protesting that they are confused about how to medicate without Fuchs’s books.” The intellectual content of these writings had nothing to do with religion; however, Leonhart Fuchs was Protestant and all of his works were therefore banned. This dissertation tells the story of how many important medical books were prohibited from, and then subsequently reintegrated into, the realm of Catholic knowledge in the period between 1559 and 1664. While ecclesiastical authorities sought to control ideas, they also responded to the demands of scholars by licensing readers, recognizing the utility of medical knowledge, expurgating books, and integrating prohibited medical works into Catholic libraries.