Catrien Santing, born in Meppel, the Netherlands, in 1958. Ph.D. from the University of Groningen. Head of the History Department at the Istituto Olandese, Rome.
Fellow (1 February 2001 – 30 June 2001)
My stay at NIAS provided me with both a stimulating context and an opportunity to develop a detailed outline of my book on the relation between the rise of anatomical medicine and religious as well as intellectual developments in late Medieval and Renaissance Italy. The formal and informal discussions on ‘rationality and magic’ within our research group generated a more refined conceptional apparatus concerning rational as well as non-scholarly or non-scientific elements in fifteenth and sixteenth-century medical reasoning. This meant that I became even more aware of the impact of religious aspects of Renaissance society on medical progress. Papers on ‘saintly autopsies’, the anatomisation of relics and the connection between the devotion of the Holy Heart and the discovery of the circulation of blood, confirmed this new direction. The flourishing fields of anatomy and medicine even influenced the criteria for relics. Both philosophical and religious ideas steered the medical reasoning of physicians, which inevitably meant that the increased interest in the dead body as well as a growing enthusiasm for bodily partitions was an ambiguous process in which cultic, political, and medical interacted, as did cultural and even legal factors. In general, one could say that the papers and articles I wrote during my stay at NIAS functioned as trial runs for the chapters of my book. As they were favourably received, I intend to finish the book along these lines within the next two years. In my view, this development of a coherent train of thought, was the most important result of my stay. Without five months free of day-to-day details, I would never have found the peace or the time to think about, rethink and finally establish the layout of my book