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The Production and Consumption of Medical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century Russia: The Apothecary Chancery

Griffin, CL; (2013) The Production and Consumption of Medical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century Russia: The Apothecary Chancery. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the importance of Western knowledge at the Russian court from the 1620s to the 1700s. After the disorder of the Time of Troubles the Russian court, under pressure from ambitious neighbours, sought to use elements of Western European learning and skill to further reconstruction. Reconstruction developed into an expansion of state powers over Russian life, facilitated by the growing system of courtly departments that were partly staffed by foreign experts. Consequently, this thesis engages with debates concerning how Russians related to Westerners and Western ideas. Here these debates will be reassessed through an examination of the reports and other texts Western experts produced for the court. Foreign influence was especially significant in shaping medicine: the court medical department – the Apothecary Chancery – was staffed with foreign medical practitioners overseen by Russian officials. The Apothecary Chancery medical practitioners produced reports on a range of subjects linked to medicine: medicaments, patient examinations and autopsies. Reports were commonly linked to the wider concerns of the court, such as autopsies on politically or diplomatically important people. The Apothecary Chancery also produced texts aimed at affecting the lives of Muscovites outside the court, such as reports on witchcraft and the sale of medicines, as well as medical recipe books aimed at educating Russians. This dissertation examines the production and consumption of these reports and medical recipe books by the Russian court. It studies the intellectual context and sources that guided the foreign medical practitioners in fashioning their reports. It also scrutinises the purposes for which the Russian court commissioned such texts, and the modifications of the medical practitioners’ views to suit their purposes. This thesis shows Russian interaction with Western ideas to have been selective and critical.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Production and Consumption of Medical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century Russia: The Apothecary Chancery
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1388075
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