The Introduction argues that preventive medicine has been relatively neglected by early modern medical historians in favour of medical treatment. It challenges perceptions that healthy-living advice books (‘regimens’), one of the principal sources for this study, were a static body of knowledge and, more generally, that the humoral theory underpinning these ideas was unchanging over the period. It explains how our methodology seeks to identify changing ideas about healthy living through an analysis of health-advice literature over time, but also considers these changes in relation to broader social and cultural transformations (e.g. changing models of the body and well-being brought about by court life and the aristocratization of the Italian elite, the impact of humanism and later of the Counter-Reformation). In so doing it is expected the study will throw new light on the nature of the relationships between patients and practitioners and between medical advice and lay practice.
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