Katherine Harvey: Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-14)

Katherine Harvey's project is entitled ‘Medicine and the Bishop in England, c.1350-c.1550.’ Through an examination of the interactions between bishops, medical knowledge and the medical professions, it explores the relationship between religion and medicine during the years between the Black Death and the English Reformation. The project will utilise a wide range of sources, including (but not limited to): biographical works, household accounts, episcopal writings (including tracts, letters and wills), episcopal and papal registers, chronicles and material remains. Key themes to be addressed by this research include the bishop’s position as a beneficiary of medical knowledge and treatment, the extent of episcopal medical knowledge and the ways in which this knowledge was deployed, and the role of medical knowledge in the construction of episcopal reputations. The project will thus shed new light on the links and potential tensions between spiritual and medical understandings of health and well-being as they existed in medieval and early modern England. Previous work on the late medieval and early modern English episcopate has focused on the spiritual, political and administrative functions of the bishop; this study will therefore add a new dimension to our understanding of the pre-Reformation prelate. It will also shed new light on the role of medicine in the lives of medieval and Tudor elites. The findings of this project will ultimately form part of my next book, provisionally entitled ‘Medicine and the Bishop in Pre-Reformation England.’