The Renaissance Healer – a Brief Overview of the Evolution of the Female Medical Professional

P.K. Adams

Guest post by Laura Matthias Bendoly

cosmos coverDid women of the late medieval and early modern era (1500-1650) take part in paid professions? Could they earn an income? Were they permitted to study or to transmit their learning to others? The short answer is ‘no.’ And yet, there were occasions in 16th and 17th century Europe for ‘however.’

Under most circumstances, medieval and renaissance trade guilds did not permit women full membership. Rare, too, were cases when women earned an income. If a female did receive payment for services, including those of home-healing, those payments would have been sporadic. They would have been far less than payments made to a male counterpart, and the woman might receive her fees in secret. Opinion in most European communities of the 16th and 17th centuries held that women’s services should be for free, and that such services as healing, midwifery…

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