Health and Medicine- 1. Medieval health, medicine and surgery

Medieval (1000AD-1500AD) surgery (7 examples)
-the many wars like the crusades led to development of surgery. Special tools started to develop to remove arrow heads etc
– barber surgeons developed in monasteries and moved into the high street after spilling of blood banned on church ground in 1200s. This meant they had to be trained for 7 years as part of a guild. They started learn more on battlefields as well.
-barber surgeons could bleed you with a fleem and cup, they could cut off moles etc and they could amputate limbs/flesh and seal with a cautery iron or burning hot oil
-wealthy people could have surgery with some pain relief using mandrake or opium. They could use wine to clean wounds as well.
-Some surgeons did not understand infection though and encouraged puss to develop and called it ‘praise worthy puss’.
– people believed astrology was important and certain areas could only be operated at certain star chart times. They used Astrology Man charts to work this out
– however internal operations were dangerous due to pain, infection, bleeding and complications in sealing the wound. Some operations took place eg trephination for migraines/epilepsy.
Medieval (1000AD-1500AD) treatments (5 examples)
– The Christian Church supported the ideas of Galen. Therefore most doctors used the theory of the 4 humours. Leeches were often used to bleed patients
– doctors would monitor urine colour to decide which humours needed balancing
– people had strong religious views and many believed that prayer and confession helped to stop illness
– herbal remedies were shared and written down in ‘Leechbooks’. These often had remedies involving simple herbs like violets, garlic etc
– people believed bad smells caused disease so they used sweet smells in options or around their house to cure the disease.
Medieval (1000AD-1500AD) public health (7 examples)
-most governments in the early medieval era did not spend money on he up keep of Roman public health so it fell into disrepair and waste was thrown in streets due to lack of laws and control in towns
– as miasma belief in bad smells developed in the 1300s laws were brought in to control waste. Eg banning of spilling of animal blood in towns or fines for emptying chamber pots in street
– towns did have bath houses that were also brothels/ ale houses and were used quite regularly
– public toilets/privies started to develop. Eg Mayor Dick Whittington built a large block of privies on the bank of the Thames. Rich people had private privies in their garden. Privies were emptied by rackiers at night and it was a highly paid job!
-monasteries had excellent public health often with clean water, toilet blocks, sewers leading into local rivers and fresh produce/food.
-monasteries provided hospital care in their infirmary wards. This was only for wealthy and people without infectious disease. No point in trying to solve infectious disease as no cures!
– the Black Death showed government action as quarantines set up around infected houses very quickly.
Arab Medicine
-Many of the textbooks of the ancient doctors were stored by the Arab empires and they therefore had more advanced medicine;
-Rhazes and Ibn Sinna used Galen’s ideas and built on them. Ibn Nafis even suggested Galen was wrong about how blood flowed around the body;
-Avicenna was a celebrated doctor and philosopher. His books were used during the Renaissance times in Europe and his ‘canon of medicine’ was reprinted over 60 times;
-Hospitals were set up through the Arab world with the best medicine eg Baghdad and Cairo;
-The Quran teaches to be clean and look after yourself. Eg Wudu before prayer to wash.
-However, muslims believed the Quran had all knowledge so rarely questioned it or the work of the ancient writers.
Black Death- more treatments and theories on disease (7 examples)
– the Black Death was the bubonic (had buboes) and pneumonic (pneumonia symptoms and no buboes) plague. It hit Britain in 1348-50 and killed around 50% of the population.
– some believed it was caused by bad smells so people had medicines with sweet smells like marigolds, had sweet smells around the house and governments and kings (like Edward III in 1348) instructed places to be clean to stop bad smells
– people believed that Jewish people were to blame. These anti-Semitic people burnt the Jews (Germany, Spain) or banished them. They believed Jewish were cause as they chose crucifixion of Jesus so brought bad luck/punishments for God
-religious beliefs went beyond prayer to flagellation. People whipped themselves, as Jesus was before crucifixion, to try to punish themselves for sins and prevent god giving them the disease
– people like Guy de Chauliac, the Pope’s doctor, believed it was caused by an imbalance of the planets
– some believed in person to person contact through touch, breath or eye contact so they sealed up houses with the disease and stopped people entering house- created a quarantine
– many people tried to balance the humours and believed the buboes and internal bleeding were a sign of too much of a humour.
The Medieval Christian Church as a cause factor (3 positives and 3 negatives)
– The church promoted the ideas of Galen and people who questioned the work of Galen were put in prison for heresy. Eg Roger Bacon in 1278
– the church set up universities to educate people. The first medical university was in Padua and was set up in 1222 but it mainly taught Galen and dissection was banned
-monasteries provided hospital care in their infirmary wards. This was only for wealthy and people without infectious disease. No point in trying to solve infectious disease as no cures
+monasteries had excellent public health often with clean water, toilet blocks, sewers leading into local rivers and fresh produce/food
+monasteries led the development of barber surgery. Barbers came to cut the monks hair and were soon bleeding patients in the infirmary and doing operations
+the church in the later medieval era started to relax laws. Eg university of Montpelier allowed a public dissection each year to show the anatomy of the body.
Medieval factors causing change
-War. In use early medieval times money spent on war, and the destruction of war, reduced public health facilities and education
+ war in the crusades helped to develop surgery eg arrow head removing and practise for barber surgeons. Also western surgeons could learn from Arab surgeons who had most of old Greek and Roman techniques
+education improved during time due universities developing
– governments more interested in spending money on war/crusades in early time
+ government started to spend money on cleaning towns and brought in laws to clean towns in Black Death time and after
+ governments gained more control so communication increased 1300s onwards so ideas could be shared. In particular Greek and Roman works being held by Arab world started to come back into Europe.

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