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The Royal Doctors, 1485-1714:

The Royal Doctors, 1485-1714:: Medical Personnel at the Tudor and Stuart Courts

Elizabeth Lane Furdell
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 315
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  • Book Info
    The Royal Doctors, 1485-1714:
    Book Description:

    Drawing upon a myriad of primary and secondary historical sources, The Royal Doctors: Medical Personnel at the Tudor and Stuart Courts investigates the influential individuals who attended England's most important patients during a pivotal epoch in the evolution of the state and the medical profession. Over three hundred men (and a handful of women), heretofore unexamined as a group, made up the medical staff of the Tudor and Stuart kings and queens of England (as well as the Lord Protectorships of Oliver and Richard Cromwell). The royal doctors faced enormous challenges in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from diseases that respected no rank and threatened the very security of the realm. Moreover, they had to weather political and religious upheavals that led to regicide and revolution, as well as cope with sharp theoretical and jurisdictional divisions within English medicine. The rulers often interceded in medical controversies at the behest of their royal doctors, bringing sovereign authority to bear on the condition of medicine. Elizabeth Lane Furdell is Professor of History at the University of North Florida.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-600-4
    Subjects: Health Sciences, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction The Tudor-Stuart Medical Household
    (pp. 1-16)

    Dr. John Arbuthnot, Augustan Age wit and physician to Queen Anne, opined that biography was one of the new terrors of death.¹ Imagine, then, the dread wrought by prosopography, the composite biography of people with something in common. Such a collection of people was the medical staff of the Tudor and Stuart kings and queens of England, who ministered to the health needs of the monarchs from 1485 to 1714. Using the term “royal doctor” broadly to include both officially designated medical personnel and ad hoc iatric consultants, over three hundred men and a handful of women practiced medicine at...

  5. Chapter 1 Henrician Doctors and the Founding of the Royal College of Physicians (1485–1547)
    (pp. 17-43)

    Henry VII established the Tudor dynasty by conquest, defeating and killing Richard III on the field of battle in 1485, effectively putting an end to the aristocratic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses.¹ A Lancastrian claimant to the throne himself, Henry Tudor then married Elizabeth of York, joining the two rival houses and bolstering his right and that of his descendants to the crown. In striking contrast to his predecessors, Henry VII kept his throne and was able to introduce control by the king of the kingdom’s affairs. Some historians credit him with laying the groundwork for a...

  6. Chapter 2 Doctors to the “Little Tudors”: Medicine in Perilous Times (1547–58)
    (pp. 44-66)

    Edward VI, the son for whom Henry VIII had moved heaven and earth, became king of England at the age of nine.¹ “God’s imp” was intelligent with scholarly tastes and a Protestant zeal that benefited the council of regency that governed in his name, but he had been overprotected and coddled as Prince of Wales. The walls and floors of his apartment were washed down three times a day to protect him from disease and his food was carefully prepared by servants appointed to tend to his every need. Great care, however, had to be taken with royal children, given...

  7. Chapter 3 The Medical Personnel of Elizabeth I (1558–1603)
    (pp. 67-97)

    Born in 1533 to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth Tudor was a lively, active child and, apart from teething problems as an infant, experienced robust health until adolescence. Despite the traumatic loss of her mother to the executioner’s sword while still a toddler, Princess Elizabeth showed no evidence of illness until puberty. Then, a series of disturbing events triggered a cycle of chronic ailments that overshadowed her teenage years. The death of her father in January 1547 precipitated a change in her abode and before long the princess found herself living with Henry’s widow, her stepmother Katherine Parr, and...

  8. Chapter 4 Doctors to the Early Stuarts (1603–49)
    (pp. 98-134)

    The death of Queen Elizabeth without issue marked the end of the Tudor line, but, in fact, the ruling family started by Henry VII provided for continuation of the dynasty under a different royal surname. Prophesying that one day “the less [would] become subservient to the greater,” in 1503 Henry Tudor had married his elder daughter, Margaret, to the Stuart (or Stewart) king of Scotland, James IV.¹ Their son, James V, fathered Mary, Queen of Scots. Despite a century of trouble between England and Scotland, Elizabeth arranged for a smooth, if complex, succession by bequeathing all her titles to James...

  9. Chapter 5 The Medical Staff of the Interregnum (1649–60)
    (pp. 135-158)

    The revolution that killed the king, abolished the monarchy, and inaugurated a Commonwealth had been accomplished by a small group of men. Between 1649 and 1653, a remnant of the Long Parliament, the Rump, relied on the army to shield it from its enemies while trying to reform society and the church. Oliver Cromwell helped the nascent republic to survive by suppressing opposition to it and then forcibly dissolving the Rump in April 1653. His “Barebones” Parliament, composed of 140 pious men (like Praisegod Barebones) selected by Cromwell, broke down in discord after sitting for only six months. The dissolution...

  10. Chapter 6 Doctors to the Restored Stuarts (1660–88)
    (pp. 159-198)

    The end of the English republic coincided with the end of the Stuart dynasty’s exile. Charles II, recalled by the Convention Parliament and acknowledged king before arriving in Britain, was welcomed with unrestrained public rejoicing as he returned to London in triumph. It had been a long journey home for the son of an executed potentate. After his father’s beheading in 1649, Charles was crowned at Scone by the Scots and proclaimed king of Ireland. In 1651, just twenty-one, he invaded England at the head of a Scottish army, but lost to Cromwell’s forces at Worcester. Disguised by supporters, Charles...

  11. Chapter 7 The “Glorious Revolution” and the Medical Household of the Dual Monarchs (1688–1702)
    (pp. 199-225)

    In a virtually bloodless coup in November 1688, William of Orange, the foremost Protestant in Europe, seized the English throne for himself and his wife from James II, his uncle and father-in-law. Opponents of the increasingly autocratic Catholic king found in the Dutch prince the consummate alternative, while William procured the men and material needed to reinforce his extended military campaign against France and at the same time prevented a possible Anglo-French alliance. It was a perfect match. Moreover, William himself, Stadtholder of the United Provinces, had Stuart blood in his veins, his mother being the sister of Charles II...

  12. Chapter 8 The Medical Personnel in Queen Anne’s Court (1702–14)
    (pp. 226-253)

    Until 1694, no one expected Anne Stuart, Protestant younger daughter of James II by his first wife, to become queen of England.¹ Her birth to the Duke and Duchess of York during the plague year of 1665 went unrecorded even by the fastidious diarist Samuel Pepys. Her mother died in 1671, then her father wed a teenage girl in 1673 only seven years older than Anne. Deprived of her mother’s affection and unhappy with her Catholic stepmother, at age eight Anne established a great friendship with a thirteen-year-old attendant in the service of Mary of Modena—Sarah Jennings, later Sarah...

  13. Epilogue The Collective Profile and Legacy of the Tudor and Stuart Royal Doctors
    (pp. 254-261)

    The Tudor-Stuart era of English history affords a convenient and instructive framework for examining the royal medical staff, the complex schism in the health-care profession, and the role of the sovereign in English medicine during a time of political and religious tumult. Of chief importance to our inquiry has been investigating the care that the royal doctors provided to the kings and queens of Great Britain and their families, care that affected every citizen. Reliable medical information is hard to come by in the biographies of monarchs and some of the most conscientious scholars have been forced to construct medical...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 262-292)
  15. Index
    (pp. 293-305)