Institute for Mediterranean Studies
Treating Hernias in Ottoman Crete (c. 1670-1760): The Legal Imprint of a Medical Procedure
2019

In Crete, as in the rest of the Ottoman Empire, patients who suffered from hernias and other diseases that required surgery made statements to the court of law that absolved the surgeons of liability in case of death as a result of the operation. These statements also included information about the medical condition concerned, the surgeon, the medical procedure and the fee to be paid. In this article, we discuss such statements of the period 1670–1760 from the town of Kandiye (mod. Heraklion). On one hand, we demonstrate that a critical analysis of the statements reveals a dynamic society, which actively overcomes its ideology of submission to God and religious prejudices when it comes to dealing with health issues. On the other hand, we argue that, as the statements were made before the official court of law, they constitute a facet of the Ottomanisation of Cretan society and its practices.

https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkz047