Vol. 6 (2021)
The health emergencies of the 18th century

Early reception of smallpox inoculation in Italy: insights from the correspondence of the Fellows of the Royal Society

Lucia Berti
University of Milan
Published September 8, 2021
Keywords
  • Smallpox inoculation,
  • early 18th-century Italy,
  • Antonio Vallisneri,
  • Thomas Dereham,
  • James Jurin,
  • Republic of Letters
  • ...More
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How to Cite
Berti, L. (2021). Early reception of smallpox inoculation in Italy: insights from the correspondence of the Fellows of the Royal Society. Diciottesimo Secolo, 6, 5-18. https://doi.org/10.36253/ds-12575

Abstract

In 18th-century Europe inoculation of smallpox started being practiced as a form of prevention against the disease itself. Knowledge of this practice arrived from the Ottoman Empire and reached various European countries in the 1710s. As far as Italy is concerned, the literature generally reports that the Italians took no particular interest in inoculation until the 1750s; however, very little attention has been given to the early reception of the practice in Italy. By drawing on early news items and letter exchanges between the Fellows of the Royal Society and the Italian physician and naturalist Antonio Vallisneri, the present paper wants to illustrate and comment on these early sources that showed the Italians’ opinions and attitudes towards inoculation when it was first heard about in the peninsula.

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