How did Ottoman physicians conceive of epidemic diseases and pestilence and their relationship to contagion? This talk addresses this question through the examination of a medical text composed by Mehmed IV’s (r. 1648-1687) head physician, Ḥayātīzāde Muṣṭafā Feyżī the Elder (d. 1692), or Moshe ben Raphael Abravanel, as he was known before he converted to Islam in the late 1660s. This work, el-Risāʾilü’l-Müşfiye li’l-emrāżı’l-müşkile, commonly known as the Quintet of Five Diseases discusses five “epidemic” diseases in the seventeenth century: syphilis, plica, the plague, and two kinds of melancholy. Trained as a physican in Padua, Italy, Ḥayātīzāde claims to present new information not found in the classical Islamic/Ottoman medical corpus. The Quintet of Five Diseases exemplifies how medical knowledge and conceptions of disease and contagion traveled across linguistic, state and religious borders in the early modern Mediterranean world.
About Dr. Sara Nur Yıldız: Currently a Koç University ANAMED Senior Fellow, Dr. Yıldız is a historian of the political, cultural, religious and intellectual life of late medieval Anatolia of the Seljuk, Mongol and Ottoman periods. She received her PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago (2006). Her current research focuses on the Seljuks of Anatolia, as well as Islamization, textual production and the transfer of knowledge, and Islamic/Ottoman medical textual traditions. She has served as assistant professor at Istanbul Bilgi University (2003-2010), researcher at the Orient-Institut Istanbul (2011-2016), and research fellow on the European Research Council Project entitled “The Islamisation of Anatolia, c. 1100-1500,” based at the School of History, University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK (2013-2016).