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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hospitals in renaissance Italy

In Renaissance Italian cities the successive plague outbreaks and other epidemics instigated the foundation of hospitals ran by various Christian orders. By the end of the fifteenth century there were around forty hospitals in Florence alone. Many of these were small 10-bed ones and were basically refuges for the poor, orphans, widows, and travelers. Of those built specifically for the sick the largest and most eminent was the 230-bed S. Maria Nuova hospital, which had specialist medical staff attached to it.

The Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, fresco by Domenico di Bartolo, 1441–1442

In the 16th century the realization that contagious diseases could be preventing from spreading by quarantining the sufferers increased the use of hospitals, as a place where they could be kept out of circulation until the disease was dealt with. 

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