When we think of the French and Indian, or Seven Years’ War, we often think of battles: The Monongahela, Ticonderoga, Québec. Yet, wars aren’t just about battles. They’re about people and governments too.
In this episode, we explore a very different aspect of the French and Indian or Seven Years’ War. We explore the war through the lens of disease and medicine and how disease prompted the British government to take steps to keep its soldiers healthy.
Our guide for this investigation is Erica Charters, an Associate Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford and author of Disease, War, and the Imperial State: The Welfare of British Armed Forces during the Seven Years’ War.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Erica Charters, an Associate Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford and author of Disease, War, and the Imperial State: The Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years' War, leads us on an exploration of the French and Indian, or Seven Years’ War, and how that war prompted the British Government to study disease in an attempt to protect its military personnel from it.
During our investigation, Erica reveals connections between disease and government; The Seven Years’ War and the theaters Great Britain fought in; And, details about the interest the British government took in disease and its work to protect its solders from it during the war.
What You’ll Discover
- Connections between disease and government
- Why 18th-century governments feared underpopulation
- 18th-century medicine and the humoral theory of medicine
- How doctors and states worked to keep people healthy
- Environmental medicine
- The Seven Years' War & the theaters Great Britain fought in
- Diseases that plagued the British Army during the Seven Years’ War
- How the British military attempted to combat disease during war
- 18th-century theories about climates, people, and disease resistance
- Whether the work of British army and naval doctors led to any cures for diseases like yellow fever, malaria, and scurvy
- What the people of Great Britain thought about the British government’s interest in disease and attempts at prevention during the Seven Years’ War
- Treatment of British troops from the British Isles versus soldiers from North America
- Differences between British and French investments in troop welfare
- Whether 18th-century medical practitioners shared medical knowledge across national borders
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Erica Charters
- Erica’s Oxford University webpage
- Disease, War, and the Imperial State: The Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years' War
- Episode 060: David Preston, Braddock’s Defeat
- Episode 086: George Goodwin, Benjamin Franklin in London
- Episode 091: Gregory Dowd, Rumors, Legends, and Hoaxes in Early America
- Episode 108: Ann Little, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright
In your opinion, what might have happened if Great Britain and France could have avoided the Seven Years’ War? What would the lack of that war have meant for the development of medicine?
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