Muslim Sicily and the Beginnings of Medical Licensing in Europe


  • Leonard C Chiarelli University of Utah



Medieval medicine, Medieval Sicily, Muslim Sicily, Medical Licensing


One of the legacies of Arab rule in Sicily is in the area of medicine, its study, and practice. Those who study the history of medicine seem to agree the first regulations on the licensing of physicians and pharmacists in Europe can be traced to 1140, when the Norman king of Sicily, Roger II (1095-1154), established the requirement of physicians taking an examination before they could practice medicine. Later, the Hohenstauffen king of Sicily, Frederick II (1194-1250), went further in his Constitutions of Melfi by legislating that for a physician to practice medicine or to heal, he first must be approved in a convened public examination by the master of the School of Salerno. Thus, with the adoption of this legislation, the procedures for the practice of medicine in Europe began and soon spread to Spain and France. The origins of these regulations, however, seem to have their roots in the medical practices of the Arabs, who via North Africa, transferred them to Sicily. The period of Muslim rule on the island had also introduced schools teaching the art of medicine and established hospitals. The Norman conquest, together with the licensing of physicians, the schooling, examining, and practicing of the medical arts, brought these traditions to medieval Europe, where they became the foundation of Western medical customary practice.

Author Biography

Leonard C Chiarelli, University of Utah

Middle East Librarian
University of Utah




History of Medicine