The confluence of the endemization of syphilis and plague outbreaks between 1590-1630 defined the milieu of the medical marketplace in London. The irregular practitioners that treated patients with these diseases used them as a mode of self-fashioning and established themselves as credible. During this time, the Royal College of Physicians attempted to censor the medical practice of these irregulars to reinforce and establish themselves as a superior authority within the medical marketplace. The College physicians attempted to self-fashion their institution because among all of the medical professionals within London, they had the least amount of practical training with patients. The “empirics” they attempted to censor learned their trade by empirical training. From the extant sources, it is clear that the medical understanding of diseases like syphilis and bubonic plague differed little between medical professionals and lay people. The epistemology of disease during this period was created through the medical treatises written by the irregular practitioners and surgeons wanting to create credibility for themselves.


Justin Biel

Committee Member

Christopher Corley

Committee Member

Agnes Odinga

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Social and Behavioral Sciences


Rights Statement

In Copyright