Arnold of Villanova (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: The first great figure of European medicine, physician to kings and popes, Arnold joined Arabic theory to European empiricism. His more than seventy scientific works and translations made him an influential medical theorist down past the sixteenth century, just as his radical theology and stormy life made him lastingly controversial.
France, Italy, and Spain have claimed Arnold as a native son. “Villanova” may derive from Villeneuve-les-Vence, or else Villeneuve-Loubet, in Provence, where he had relatives. By one theory, his family were Jews who, on converting to Christianity, moved to Catalonia and then Valencia. Arnold himself said that he was “born of the soil, lowly and obscure” and called himself “an unlearned country-fellow.” Contemporaries called him a Catalan, which he accepted, and his early editors used that as an alternate surname. The only language in which he wrote, besides Latin, was Catalan. The kingdom of Valencia, just conquered from the Muslims by Catalonia-Aragon, always claimed Arnold for its own. The great fourteenth century Valencian writer Francesc Eiximenis took it as common knowledge, within a lifetime of Arnold’s death, that the latter was a native of Valencia. The settlers in Valencia, and even those in Murcia to its south, were called “true Catalans” by the contemporary memoirist Ramón Muntaner; famous medieval Valencians such as Vicent Ferrer...
(The entire section is 2007 words.)
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