Hospital: an institution which provides the space, materials, constant care, and cures required to nurse sick people back to health under the supervision of professional physicians, and an admission policy serving the public. Under this definition, the first hospitals came into existence in the fourth century in Constantinople. Hospitals expanded their services from the sixth century onward becoming the principle theater of Byzantine medicine by the 12th century.
The Christian church operated institutions called xenodocheia, Constantine subsidized these charitable sick houses with imperial funds, creating a tradition which linked the church performing a civic function and the government helping to foot the bill. It is from these xenodocheia that Byzantine hospitals, or xenones, evolved. As time passed, many of the duties held by the polis in antiquity, were given over to the church’s bishops and deacons, and the bishops responded to a need for medical care with xenones. The physicians working in the first xenones were devout men, performing their work as a personal charity, mirroring the virtues of Christ: whom was regarded by many as the ultimate healer. Christianity borrowed images and traditions from the Hellenistic medical deity Asklepios to enhance the notion of Christ the physician. Many orders of monks also staffed hospitals all throughout the history of Constantinople.
The reign of Justinian (527-565 AD), was a time of intense migration of civic duties from the ancient polis to ...
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...ed based upon religion, with physicians coming from Pagan, Christian, and Judaic backgrounds, in the Ottoman period public hospitals were open only to Muslims, other religious minorities had to manage their own institutions. Entirely absent from this paper is a discussion of the plague and perceptions thereof: this topic would be a paper in and of itself. Thus, my reading of professor Varlik’s dissertation was not of use for this paper.
1. Campbell, Donald. Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages. London, 1926.
2. Jackson, William. “A Short Guide to Humoral Medicine.” Trend in Pharmacological Sciences. Volume 22, Issue 9, Pages 487-489.
3. Miller, Timothy. The Birth of the Hospital in the Byzantine Empire. Baltimore and London, 1997.
4. Shefer-Mossensohn, Miri. Ottoman Medicine: Healing and Medical Institutions, 1500-1700. Albany, 2009.
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