The "Schola Medica Salernitana": The forerunner of the modern university medical schools

Enrico De Divitiis, Paolo Cappabianca, Oreste De Divitiis, Charles Y. Liu, Edward R. Laws, Lycurgus M. Davey, James T. Goodrich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


THE SCHOLA MEDICA SALERNITANA is considered the oldest medical school of modern civilization. Salerno's long medical tradition began during the Greco-Roman period in a Greek colony named Elea, where Parmenides decided to found a medical school. The fame of the school became more and more important during the 10th century, and it was best known in the 11th century. In the middle of 12th century, the school was at its apogee, and Salerno provided a notable contribution to the formulation of a medical curriculum for medieval universities. The most famous work of the Salernitan School was the Regimen Sanitatis Saleritanum, a Latin poem of rational, dietetic, and hygienic precepts, many of them still valid today. The school also produced a physician's reference book, with advice on how to treat a patient, a sort of code of conduct to help the physician to respect the patient and his or her relatives. The first science-based surgery appeared on the scene of the discredited medieval practice in Salerno, thanks to Roger of Salerno and his fellows. He wrote a book on surgery, called Rogerina or Post Mundi Fabricam, in which surgery from head to toe is described, with surprising originality. The important contribution to the School of Salerno made by women as female practitioners is outlined, and among them, Trotula de Ruggiero was the most renowned. The period when the School of Salerno, universally recognized as the forerunner of the modern universities, became a government academy was when Frederick II reigned over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-745
Number of pages24
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Frederick II
  • History of medicine
  • Medieval medicine
  • Schola Medica Salernitana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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