Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages

From England to the Mediterranean

Edited by Elma Brenner and François-Olivier Touati

Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2741-9
  • Pages: 424
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: April 2021
  • BIC Category: Medieval History, History of Medicine, MEDICAL / History, HISTORY / Medieval, HISTORY / Social History, Humanities / European history, Humanities / Medieval history, Medicine / History of medicine, History
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


For the first time, this volume explores the identities of leprosy sufferers and other people affected by the disease in medieval Europe. The chapters, including contributions by leading voices such as Luke Demaitre, Carole Rawcliffe and Charlotte Roberts, challenge the view that people with leprosy were uniformly excluded and stigmatised. Instead, they reveal the complexity of responses to this disease and the fine line between segregation and integration. Ranging across disciplines, from history to bioarchaeology, Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages encompasses post-medieval perspectives as well as the attitudes and responses of contemporaries. Subjects include hospital care, diet, sanctity, miraculous healing, diagnosis, iconography and public health regulation. This richly illustrated collection presents previously unpublished archival and material sources from England to the Mediterranean.


Introduction - Elma Brenner and François-Olivier Touati

Part I: Approaching leprosy and identity
1 Reflections on the bioarchaeology of leprosy and identity, past and present - Charlotte Roberts
2 Lepers and leprosy: connections between East and West in the Middle Ages - François-Olivier Touati
3 The disease and the sacred: the leper as a scapegoat in England and Normandy (eleventh-twelfth centuries) - Damien Jeanne

Part II: Within the leprosy hospital: between segregation and integration
4 'A mighty force in the ranks of Christ's army': intercession and integration in the medieval English leper hospital - Carole Rawcliffe
5 Saint Mary Magdalen, Winchester: the archaeology and history of an English leprosarium and almshouse - Simon Roffey
6 Diet as a marker of identity in the leprosy hospitals of medieval northern France - Elma Brenner

Part III: Beyond the leprosy hospital: the language of poverty and charity
7 Good people, poor sick: the social identities of lepers in the late medieval Rhineland - Lucy Barnhouse
8 The clapper as 'vox miselli': new perspectives on iconography - Luke Demaitre

Part IV: Religious and social identities
9 Kissing lepers: Saint Francis and the treatment of lepers in the central Middle Ages - Courtney A. Krolikoski
10 From pilgrim to knight, from monk to bishop: the distorted identities of leprosy within the Order of Saint Lazarus - Rafaël Hyacinthe
11 Connotation and denotation: the construction of the leper in Narbonne and Siena before the plague - Anna M. Peterson

Part V: Post-medieval perspectives
12 'Our loathsome ancestors': reinventing medieval leprosy for the modern world, 1850-1950 - Kathleen Vongsathorn and Magnus Vollset



Elma Brenner is Research Development Specialist (Medieval and Early Modern) at Wellcome Collection
François-Olivier Touati is Professor at the Université François Rabelais (Tours)

Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages

Edited by Elma Brenner, François-Olivier Touati

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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