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The Trinity–Worth Lecture Series in Medieval & Renaissance Medicine and Science

Trinity–Worth Lecture Series

The Medieval History Research Centre and the Edward Worth Library's annual Trinity–Worth Lecture for 2024 is Dr Iona McCleery of the University of Leeds. Her paper, to be delivered on Thursday 11 April at 4.15pm in The Medieval History Research Centre seminar room, is entitled, 'Turtles, Oysters and Quails: Health and Natural History in Fifteenth-century West Africa'. In 1479 a merchant’s agent from the Low Countries, Eustache de la Fosse, visited West Africa to buy slaves and grains of paradise. Captured by the Portuguese, who claimed a trade monopoly over the region, he was sent to Lisbon for trial, but escaped and returned to Bruges in 1481. The account of his travels survives in French in a single mid-sixteenth century manuscript now in Valenciennes in northern France. During his journey, Eustache describes and eats oysters, turtles and quails. Dr McCleery interprets these creatures in the context of late medieval and early-modern healthcare. Eustache’s account is usually taken as a straightforward story of a commercial journey. She argues that it was also a narrative about a spiritual journey, something that was well understood by whoever bound it with pilgrimage narratives in the sixteenth century. She further argues that Eustache’s meals and the animals he described were indicative of his spiritual health. His choices can also be used to analyse European attitudes towards African natural history in the period before the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Former TCD-Worth Lecturers


Dr Catherine Rider (Exeter)
Telling Stories about Illness and Magic: Magical Remedies and the Inquisition in Early Modern Malta


Dr Zubin Mistry (Edinburgh)
Reproduction, Religion and the Social History of Early Medieval Medicine


Dr Sarah Baccianti (Queen’s University Belfast)
Mapping Medical Knowledge in Medieval Iceland: Manuscripts and Sagas


Cancelled, due to Covid


Dr James Palmer (St Andrews)
Charlemagne’s Sciences and the Framing of Carolingian Religion, 757-818


Michael Schonhardt (Freiburg)
A Scientific Revolution before Galilei? How the astrolabe transformed 11th-century science (in Bavaria)


Professor Guy Geltner (Amsterdam)
Premodern Public Health: The End of an Oxymoron


Professor Carol Rawcliffe (East Anglia)
Christ the Physician Walks the Wards: Religion and Medicine in the Later Middle Ages

2015 Professor John Henderson (London),
Death in Florence: Plague, Public Health and the Poor in a late Italian renaissance state

Dr Maria de la Cruz de Carlos Varona (Madrid)
Giving Birth at the Habsburg Court in the Sixteenth Century


Professor S.K Cohn (Glasgow)
Naming and Blaming in Early Modern Europe: The Case of Syphilis

Last updated 26 March 2024 (Email).