A History of “Trotula of Salerno”

Trotula of Salerno was one of the first female medical doctors.  She occupied the chair of medicine at the school of Salerono, in southern Italy.  Trotula was somewhat of a medical revolutionary, and focused on woman’s medical needs in the 11th–12th centuries. She was the only doctor to focus on woman’s medical needs at the time and served a role model for woman perusing a career in medicine (which was a male dominated profession).

Trotula is most famously known for writing “The Trotula”.  “The Trotula” is a collection of three separate books; Diseases of Women, Treatments for Women, and Women’s Cosmetics.  The  Book circulated throughout Europe in the 12th century, as a medical manual for many women.  The Trotula is divided into 23 different sections, focusing on the issues of menstruation and child birth.  The Book  has many theories on why menstruation exists, adopting and expanding the views of ” Galen’s gynecological theory”.  Galen’s theory is that women are colder than men and are unable to “cook” their nutrients, resulting in menstruation.  Trotula’s book explained the importance of menstruation and  how it is actually a healthy phenomenon.  Furthermore the Trotula texts provide treatments for woman illnesses all the way from Sunburn to infertility, and was the only book to educate male doctors of the female body.

Trotula of Salerno was  noted as the worlds first gynecologist. Her medical specialty revolved around  “uniquely female medical issues”.  She advocated for the use of  opiates during childbirth to ease the excruciating pain.  Of course, this went against the Church’s ideas that woman should suffer during childbirth as “punishment for  Eve‘s sin”.

Trotula’s work had a great influence on medical science for centuries.  Her books were used as for centuries after her lifetime aswell.  Her influecnail work and her importance in society for women is why she was selected for Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. 

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