The Consumption of Medical Services in Early-Modern Europe

Medical-care systems organize the provision of medicine, with the support of powerful industries, by practitioners and institutions, notably hospitals. Their funding was complex, as it involved payments by individuals or small social groups, public spending at local or regional level, insurance mechanisms. Our modern European systems were slowly built by societies and states since the late Middle Ages.

The study of consumption of medical services in early-modern Europe, between the 15th and the 19th century (ConsuMed) is key to understand how individuals, communities and political institutions determined themselves among multiple and constantly evolving curing technologies and trades. The hypothesis behind the research is political: early-modern societies offered to their populations complementary private and public access to medical care, contributing to support the industrial sector of medicine and its innovations, and designing ad hoc policies to limit them: insurance, collectivization of services, adequate tax policies. In the long run, the project will provide a study of the medical economy in early-modern Europe, integrating three dimensions: the evolution of medical technologies; the structuration of medical-care labour in a thriving sector; political determinations of medical provision.

The project combines individual research on France and England on steel-trusses and medical trade in 18th century Europe and medical provision in parishes from the late 16 century, and collective investigations on the design of sanitary politics and the provision of medical care in early-modern Europe.

Principal investigator: Dr. Christelle Rabier

Conferences and panels

  •  2-3 Sept. 2010: Fitting for Health: The Economy of Medical Technology in Early-Modern Europe (Paris). Sponsors: Institut d'histoire modern et contemporaine (CNRS-ENS)-Académie nationale de médecine)
  • Click here to link to website
  • 21-2 June, 2012: Court Medicine: Healthcare Personnel and Sanitary Politics in Europe, 15c-18c (Sponsors: London School of Economics-Institut universitaire de France)
    Co-organized with Benoist Pierre (Institut universitaire de France- Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance)
  •  Research blog and programme 
  •  29 Aug.-1 Sept, 2012. "The Evolution of Medical Provision in European Cities, from the Middle Ages to the Early Nineteenth Century." Main session M9 of the European Association for Urban History
    Co-organized with Patrick Wallis and Benoist Pierre
  • CFP and argument:
  • Programme and abstracts

Research video