Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies
Medicine and Empire: Healthcare, Diet and Disease in Portugal (1350–1550)
- Received: 12 Nov 2014
- Accepted: 25 Jul 2015
- Published online: 01 Sep 2015
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis
Colonial medicine is a thriving field of study in the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century medicine. Medicine can be used as a lens to view colonialism in action and as a way to critique colonialism. This article argues that key debates and ideas from that modern field can fruitfully be applied to the Middle Ages, especially for the early empires of Spain and Portugal (mid-fourteenth to mid-sixteenth centuries). The article identifies key modern debates, explores approaches to colonization and colonialism in the Middle Ages and discusses how medieval and modern medicine and healthcare could be compared using colonial and postcolonial discourses. The article ends with three case studies of healthcare encounters in Madeira, Granada and Hispaniola at the end of the fifteenth century.