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Reconstructing the mandates and activities of urban "healthscapers" between roughly 1250 and 1500, Roads to Health contends that preventive healthcare emerged from a steady concern for populations' wellbeing. It challenges the view of the Black Death, let alone the Industrial Revolution, as a unique trigger in public health history.

Roads to Health

"G. Geltner's Roads to Health transforms our understanding of urban life in later medieval Italy, and the premodern world more broadly, not simply by recovering the activities of officials in charge of urban infrastructure and the courts that adjudicated their work but also by pushing the chronology of these 'healthscaping' efforts into the period before the arrival of the Black Death. Geltner's book is as important for historians of medicine and urban life as it is for historians of public health. A singular achievement."—Monica Green, Arizona State University

"A field-changing book, Roads to Health shatters the prevailing narrative that public health administration emerged from industrialization and other processes of Euro-American modernization. Combining richly documented detail and bold historical sweep, G. Geltner demonstrates that teleological assumptions have obscured the history of premodern public health policies, practices, and preventive theories; have distorted efforts to historicize govermentality and biopower; and are complicit with agendas that have claimed public health as a characteristic of civilized, Western modernity."—Kathleen Davis, University of Rhode Island

"Consistently original and innovative, Roads to Health is a major contribution to the study of public health and medieval urban life. It furnishes incontestable documentary proof that northern Italian towns adopted a proactive approach to issues of environmental health long before the Black Death, while developing sophisticated legal and administrative structures to ensure compliance 'on the ground.'"—Carole Rawcliffe, University of East Anglia

"Roads to Health is a spirited and thought-provoking argument for continuity between medieval and modern public health activities and for the existence and preeminence of routine practices over one-off emergency solutions to public health problems."—Paolo Squatriti, University of Michigan

dhr. prof. dr. G. (Guy) Geltner

Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen

Capaciteitsgroep Geschiedenis

Publication details

Title: Roads to Health. Infrastructure and Urban Wellbeing in Later Medieval Italy
Author: G. Geltner
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 9780812251357