Trotula of Salerno

Trotula of Salerno is a fine example of a great woman healer. She contributed great scholarly works on women’s anatomy and physiology (though was discredited by her male counterparts). She trained at the University of Salerno, one of the few places women could study in the eleventh century. Details of her life are scarce, however she authored several medical books, and it is claimed she was chair at the University. While she was discredited for her prolific writings by medical authorities, three texts survive and are credited to her: Diseases of Women, Treatments for Women, and Women’s Cosmetics. The writings of this trailblazing woman were collected and over the next few centuries, edited as they passed through many subsequent “authors” who claimed credit for her work. The Trotula, as the three combined texts became known, is divided into twenty-seven sections and focuses on problems with menstruation and childbirth. It is still well recognized as one of Europe’s most important medical texts on women’s health.

Women were doing great things over the last thousands of years and we have not been aware of her greatness because much of her work was discredited. Trotula had also been named a “crazy midwife” a tactic used to discredit and hide women’s value.

Resource: Woman As Healer by Jeanne Achterberg.

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