Images courtesy of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
British Society for the History of Pharmacy
BSHP

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 Events

Our events programme covers a wide range of pharmacy history topics.  We hold 3 evening meetings each year, and annual conference, a summer visit, and a joint meeting with a School of Pharmacy.  Click on an event below to find out more.
 
ONLINE LECTURE BY PROFESSOR ALISHA RANKIN - THE POISON TRIALS: WONDER DRUGS, EXPERIMENT, AND THE BATTLE FOR AUTHORITY IN RENAISSANCE SCIENCE
Online via Zoom and YouTube
Monday 24 January 2022 18:30
Cost: Free
 

In 1524, Pope Clement VII gave two condemned criminals to his physician to test a promising new antidote. After each convict ate a marzipan cake poisoned with deadly aconite, one of them received the antidote, and lived—the other died in agony. In sixteenth-century Europe, this case and more than a dozen other accounts of poison trials were committed to writing. At a time when poison was widely feared, the urgent need for effective cures provoked intense excitement about new drugs. As doctors created, performed, and evaluated poison trials, they devoted careful attention to method, wrote detailed experimental reports, and engaged with the problem of using human subjects for fatal tests. The history of these antidote trials reveals extensive engagement with “experimental thinking” long before the great experimental boom of the seventeenth century - but also physicians’ deep interest in finding marvelous new antidotes and other wonder drugs.


Alisha Rankin is Associate Professor of History at Tufts University and co-editor of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Her first book, Panaceia's Daughters: Noblewomen as Healers in Early Modern Germany (University of Chicago Press, 2013), won the 2014 Gerald Strauss Prize for Reformation History. She co-edited (with Elaine Leong) a collection of essays titled Secrets and Knowledge in Medicine and Science, 1500-1800 (Ashgate Press, 2011). Her most recent book, The Poison Trials: Wonder Drugs, Experiment, and the Battle for Authority in Renaissance Science (University of Chicago Press, 2021), examines poison antidotes, medical testing, and ideas of proof. She has published widely on a variety of topics in the history of science and medicine, and she is working on a new project on witchcraft, magic, and medicine.

Register to join the Zoom meeting here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-poison-trials-tickets-241986767937 or watch live on our YouTube channel.

(Image credit: Pharmacy Museum, Basel)

 

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