Green, M. H. (2002). The Trotula: an English translation of the medieval compendium of women’s medicine. Philadelphia: University if Pennsylvania Press.
Worldcat: [Link]Summary: The Trotula was the most influential compendium of women’s medicine in medieval Europe. Scholarly debate has long focused on the traditional attribution of the work to the mysterious Trotula, said to have been the first female professor of medicine in eleventh- or twelfth-century Salerno, just south of Naples, then the leading center of medical learning in Europe. Yet as Monica H. Green reveals in her introduction to the first English translation ever based upon a medieval form of the text, the Trotula is not a single treatise but an ensemble of three independent works, each by a different author. To varying degrees, these three works reflect the synthesis of indigenous practices of southern Italians with the new theories, practices, and medicinal substances coming out of the Arabic world.
Green here presents a complete English translation of the so-called standardized Trotula ensemble, a composite form of the texts that was produced in the midthirteenth century and circulated widely in learned circles. The work is now accessible to a broad audience of readers interested in medieval history, women’s studies, and premodern systems of medical thought and practice.
Notes from Leah: Assuming this has the De Ornatu Mulierum, this looks to be invaluable for research on medieval cosmetics.
Cavallo, P., Proto, M. C., Patruno, C., Sorbo, A. D. and Bifulco, M. (2008). The first cosmetic treatise of history. A female point of view. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 30: 79–86. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2007.00414.x
Full Text: [Link]
Abstract: The Schola Medica Salernitana was an early medieval medical school in the south Italian city of Salerno and the most important native source of medical knowledge in Europe at the time. The school achieved its splendour between the 10th and 13th centuries, during the final decades of Longobard kingdom. In the school, women were involved as both teachers and students for medical learning. Among these women, there was Trotula de Ruggiero (11th century), a teacher whose main interest was to alleviate suffering of women. She was the author of many medical works, the most notable being De Passionibus Mulierum Curandarum (about women’s diseases), also known as Trotula Major. Another important work she wrote was De Ornatu Mulierum (about women’s cosmetics), also known as Trotula Minor, in which she teaches women to conserve and improve their beauty and treat skin diseases through a series of precepts, advices and natural remedies. She gives lessons about make-up, suggests the way to be unwrinkled, remove puffiness from face and eyes, remove unwanted hair from the body, lighten the skin, hide blemishes and freckles, wash teeth and take away bad breath, dying hair, wax, treat lips and gums chaps.
Notes from Leah: This appears to be just an overview of Trotula de Ruggiero’s work. Still, without this, I wouldn’t have found the book listed above!
Da Soller, C. (2005). The beautiful woman in medieval Iberia: rhetoric, cosmetics, and evolution.Retrieved from MOspace.
Citation: [Link]Full Text: [Link]Abstract: Literary portraits of the beautiful woman in medieval Iberia tend to emphasize several physical features, such as long, blond hair, or light-colored and hairless skin. This study examines the specific features of the beautiful woman in several major works and genres from medieval Iberia. It also traces the rhetorical sources of these portraits to the Classical and medieval Latin traditions, whose influence is evident in other early vernacular literatures of Europe. It then analyzes several medieval cosmetic treatises in Latin and in vernacular languages that attest to medieval women’s beautifying practices, such as the use of hair-dyes, depilatories, and skin-whitening creams. The comparison of the literary and cosmetic evidence shows a canonical view of feminine beauty that encompasses different cultural areas in medieval Iberia. This view is also consistent with ancient as well as with twenty-first century conceptions of beauty. The findings suggest that the ideal of feminine beauty in medieval Iberia is not unique, but rather a manifestation of near-universal male preferences shaped by sexual selection in the course of human evolution.
Notes from Leah: Chapter 4 has what would appear to be an overview of women’s use of cosmetics from ancient times into the middle ages. Worth a read, and following up with the sources Da Soller cites.
Caballero-Navas, C. (2008). Medicine and pharmacy for women. The encounter of Jewish thinking and practices with the Arabic and Christian medical traditions. European Review, 16, pp 249-259. doi:10.1017/S1062798708000197.
Citation: [Link]Abstract: This article presents a brief analysis of the ways in which women’s healthcare was understood by medieval Jews, as well as how this sphere of medical activity was learned, practised and disseminated among western Jewish communities during the Middle Ages. It examines the paths of transmission and reception of theories and notions of female physiology, health and disease within the Hebrew medical corpus, and it analyses the influence of the Arabic and Latin traditions in this process. In connection with the understanding of women’s healthcare, it pays some attention to adornment and decoration of the body, as part of the technology that focused on intervening in the functioning of the body. It also discusses succinctly the process through which medical ideas and concepts, as well as healing practices, were received, and integrated or refused, by Jews.
Notes from Leah: This is one you’ll have to ask your librarian for – or try looking for it in a database. I don’t see it in JSTOR. But the abstract sounds promising for the section on adornment and decoration.