Arnau de Vilanova (Arnold of Villanova, Arnaldus de Villanova) is unquestionably one of the most appealing figures in our history, in terms of both his own merits and the features that have led his legacy to endure. He was one of the most prominent physicians in his day because of his writings, his university instruction and his professional activity. He was also a controversial theologian who was censured and persecuted by professional theologians but appreciated and followed by the more reformist currents. The kings and popes of his day fought for his medical care and entrusted him on diplomatic missions. After his death, a Church ruling condemned some of his theological theses, which were gradually left to fall into oblivion. However, his fame as a physician kept growing over time, and his figure came to be shrouded in legend. Even today, this legendary image of Arnau de Vilanova survives, which is based on the deformation of his memory and the numerous texts which were falsely attributed to him: all too often, the traditional vision of him as an alchemist, astrologist, empirical physician or introducer of alcohol distillation is perpetuated, despite the fact that the research from the past few decades has debunked all of these false claims and returned us to his historical personality. On these pages, we strive to offer a brief yet rigorous and up-to-date vision of his figure and works in line with the most recent research with the intention of contributing to sharing him free of the mythical aura with which he has been enshrouded.
“Who is Arnau de Vilanova” (2013-2018) was written by Sebastià Giralt (medicine, alchemy, survival) and Jaume Mensa (biography, timeline and theology).