What exactly did early modern physicians do? Treated patients certainly, taught, studied anatomy in the flesh, cultivated clientele and patronage, shared case reports, read and wrote scholarly books and letters, and perhaps improved the healing art. But they also fulfilled important civic roles; they inspected and reported for government and for members of their communities. They deliberated, advised, certified, and administrated. They corresponded as much with urban and state authorities as with their medical peers. In essence, they were integrally involved in the economic, civic, and administrative life of the cities in which they lived. Physicians' activity was often less of the bedside or the university than of the town hall, shop, office, court of law, street, and household. This collection brings together cutting-edge research that explores and complicates the role of the physician in the urban environment. The picture they present is of a public figure and administrator, a constant negotiator of and through civic life, who worked closely with barber-surgeons and apothecaries, learning medicine from 'lay' people, translating learned medicine to make it theirs.
Together they reassert the physicians' place in the complex interaction between public authorities and other groups struggling for authority and power in the early modern civic sphere.