Les médecines illégales et les médecines populaires en France au XIXe siècle, avec l'exemple du Maine-et-Loire

Abstract : The expansion of the qualified medical profession in 19 th century France, decided by the 1803 Napoleonic laws, did not prevent traditional methods of medical care from perpetuating. Despite scientific progress in the medical field and a growing medicalization of society, the French were still attached to secular practices. The case of Maine et Loire reveals such a vivid activity which did not fail throughout the century. The high number of illegal healers given disclosed by the legal archives of the department allows one to estimate to what extent their activities remained powerful, even when medicine won glorious victories over illness. One after the other, they came before the judges : empirical practitioners, bonesetters, midwives and all sorts of charlatans ready to do anything to take advantage of ailing people in distress. Nuns, whose work wavered between medicine and charity, evaded proceedings. They were warned none the less. However, trials do not reveal everything, because people kept resorting to popular medicines in their private family circles. Specialized works were relayed by newspapers and encouraged the use of self-medication, often disregarding what was recommended by the law. There was a vast range of care practices : some were inspired by nature or religion, some were influenced by the very latest innovations. Reluctantly, doctors were forced to had to work next to healers and since people in Maine et Loire did not seem ready to be diverted from their healing habits, which were deeply rooted in people's lives.
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Sylvain Sionneau. Les médecines illégales et les médecines populaires en France au XIXe siècle, avec l'exemple du Maine-et-Loire. Histoire. Université d'Angers, 2013. Français. ⟨tel-00945371⟩

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