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Russia and the Medical Drug Trade in the Seventeenth Century

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Griffin, Clare 


This article deals with the trade in medicines into Russia in the seventeenth century. Both the early modern medical drug trade, and Russian medicine, have previously received substantial attention, but no work has thus far been undertaken on the Russian angle of the drug trade. Drawing on previously unused documents, this article traces the kinds of drugs acquired by the Moscow court. In contrast to the dominant view of official Russian medicine as divorced from native healing practices and fundamentally reliant upon Western European trends, these documents reveal that drugs were sourced as locally as Moscow markets, and from as far afield as East Asia and the Americas, but that not all drugs were accepted. As many of these imports came through Western European markets, this article also sheds further light on what drugs were available there, demonstrating the great diversity of drugs traded in early modern Europe.



Drug Trade, Early Modern, European Medicine, Global History, Russia

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Social History of Medicine

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Oxford University Press
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.