Romano, Francesca (fl. 1321)

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Romano, Francesca (fl. 1321)

Licensed surgeon of Calabria, Italy. Name variations: Francesca Romana. Flourished in 1321 in Calabria; married Matteo de Romano.

Francesca Romano, one of the few medieval women allowed to study medicine at a university, was from the Italian bourgeoisie, and received permission to enter the medical school at the University of Salerno to take a degree in surgery. Unlike most women doctors, who used folk knowledge and empirical evidence in healing, Romano studied the theoretical, often nonsensical art of medicine the universities provided male doctors. She had to learn Latin and possibly Greek, and read treatises by such classical authors as Aristotle and Galen on anatomy and physiology and their connections to astrology and other supernatural forces. In 1321, having successfully completed her training (which most likely did not involve any actual contact with patients), Romano was granted a license to practice surgery by Charles, duke of Cambria. Her professional career unfortunately went undocumented.


Uitz, Erika. The Legend of Good Women: The Liberation of Women in Medieval Cities. Wakefield, RI: Moyer Bell, 1988.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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