p-medicine-lnks – 12/10/04
A set of web links to information on medieval 'Flu and other illnesses by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: aoife at scatoday.net
Subject: [Aoife-Links] Medieval 'Flu and other illnesses
Date: October 22, 2004 3:25:52 PM CDT
To: aoife-links at scatoday.net
"Medieval 'Flu" is NOT another good excuse to take off work, nor a euphemism
for unexplained illness. Nor is it an excessive desire for perfectly spiffy
medieval garb. This links list, Titled "Medieval 'Flu and other Illnesses,"
is about real communicable illnesses in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and
how they were treated (though we'd be hard pressed to actually label any of
them legitimately the 'flu from this great distance). In light of the recent
furor over the shortage--in the U.S.--of 'Flu Vaccines, I thought a trip
through history might be in order, to let us know how bad it was back then.
Of course, if you got the flu in the Middle Ages, you might not call it
influenza. Perhaps you had a surplus of Choler, suffered from Catarrh,
contracted an Ague, or had the Gripes.
No matter what you call it, however, we're still LOTS better off today, when
over-the-counter medicines exceed the health care of most medieval patients.
I hope you enjoy the following links on Medieval medicines and illnesses,
and will feel free to pass it along wherever it will be wellness-received :)
PLEASE remember that if you attempt to use any of the below medical
practices or methods, you are on your own as far as results go. This author
claims no responsibility if your unusual treatments go awry! As they say all
the time on television, "Don't try this at home!" There is no substitute for
the advice of a good doctor. Whatever else you may do, PLEASE try the
Medieval MD quiz, and see how you'd measure up as a Doctor in the Middle
Ages. You might learn something!
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
from the stormy Canton of Riverouge
Barony of the Endless Hills,
In Glorias Aethelemarc!
Wickipedia: Medieval Medicine
(Site Excerpt) In the early period there was no single, organized, strand of
medieval medicine. Instead someone struck down by injury or disease could
turn to folk medicine, prayer, astrology, spells, mysticism, or to an
established physician if such were available to him. The boundaries between
each profession were loose and movable.
(Site Excerpt) History is full of home remedies used throughout the
centuries. People have been known to slather honey on burns, use black tea
as a sort of natural antibiotic, and eat clay. This might sound strange to
you, until you realize that white clay is also an ingredient of Kaopectate,
a popular antidiarrhea medication in the United States. Chances are that
you've eaten clay, too!
Health and Medicine in Medieval England
(Site Excerpt) The cause of the Black Death according to Guy de Chauliac, a
French doctor: Three great planets, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, are all in
close position. This took place in 1345. Such a coming together of planets
is always a sign of wonderful, terrible or violent things to come.
Click "Unclassified" (last menu item on left), then "p-medical" to get to
the historical medical practices file, where you will find a wealth of
information in the form of collected missives on the subject.
National Library of Medicine: Islamic Culture and the Medical Arts
(Site Excerpt) The hospitals were dependent upon charitable endowments for
their maintenance, and with time these funds became insufficient to support
them, or, not infrequently, the lands supporting the endowment were
confiscated. Consequently, the hospitals tended to deteriorate and
eventually fall into disuse, except for a few such as the Nuri hospital in
Damascus which continued to operate as a hospital until the end of the 19th
(Site Excerpt) Life before the discovery of penicillin, antisepsis, and germ
theory necessarily meant that disease was a constant companion of medieval
people. Fortunately, from the eighth through the mid-fourteenth centuries
Europe was remarkably free from most epidemic diseases.
Misconceptions about Medieval Medicine
(Site Excerpt) Our stomachs turn at an image of leeches growing fat on the
warm blood of the sick; our minds are horrified by the fact that medieval
doctors honestly believed the best remedy for a patient might be to open a
vein and drain off quarts of precious blood; our hearts ache to think of
virulent diseases ravaging bodies while a physician recited incantations or
a priest prayed for deliverance of the patient from pain. In the same vein,
we are often equally filled with amazement and awe that, despite such
revolting medical practices, the human race survived at all to produce such
humane and urbane, all-knowing and all-controlling creatures as ourselves.
Mostly Medieval: Medieval Medicine: Commonly Used Medieval Medicinal Plants
This list contains items which are clickable. By clicking on an herb's name
you find what herbs were used for and sometimes how they were used.
A General Study of the Plague in England 1539-1640
With a Specific Reference to Loughborough
By Ian Jessiman
(Site Excerpt) Throughout the Middle Ages most of populated Britain suffered
sweeping ravages of disease and pestilence; individually and collectively
these epidemics were referred to as the plague. Examination of the
Leicestershire town of Loughborough's Parish Register 1, reveals valuable
statistical data, particularly in respect to burials after 1538. The History
and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, Vol III part II, by J Nichols 2,
offers an insight into some of the social effects of the plague.
Marchione di Coppo Stefani, The Florentine Chronicle
Rubric 643: Concerning A Mortality In The City Of Florence In Which Many
(Site Excerpt) In the year of the Lord 1348 there was a very great
pestilence in the city and district of Florence. It was of such a fury and
so tempestuous that in houses in which it took hold previously healthy
servants who took care of the ill died of the same illness. Almost non of
the ill survived past the fourth day. Neither physicians nor medicines were
effective. Whether because these illnesses were previously unknown or
because physicians had not previously studied them, there seemed to be no
What was the Vinegar of Four Thieves?
By Chelsie Vandaveer
(Site Excerpt) Legends also abounded over those who survived, in particular,
four thieves who robbed the bodies and houses of the dead. The confused
legend places the thieves in Marseilles, or Toulouse, or maybe London, on or
around the late 1500s, 1628, 1632, or 1722, caught and brought before the
mayor, or councilmen, or judges, and sentenced to death. They would be
spared if they told the secret for their survival: the Vinegar of Four
BBC Schools: Medieval Medicine
(Site Excerpt) Leprosy was one of the most feared and terrible diseases of
the Middle Ages. Victims of the disease were outcasts from their homes and
villages. They were condemned to become beggars, warning people of their
approach by the ringing of hand-bells. Lazar houses were built in towns
throughout England. These were isolation hospitals where lepers would live a
monastic type of life.
Health and Medicine in Medieval England
(Site Excerpt) No one knew what caused diseases then. There was no knowledge
of germs. Medieval peasants had been taught by the church that any illness
was a punishment from God for sinful behaviour. Therefore, any illness was
self-imposed - the result of an individual's behaviour.
The Middle Ages: Health
(Site Excerpt) There were many myths and superstitions about health and
hygiene as there still are today. People believed, for example, that disease
was spread by bad odors. It was also assumed that diseases of the body
resulted from sins of the soul. Many people sought relief from their ills
through meditation, prayer, pilgrimages, and other nonmedical methods.
Medieval MD Quiz
(Site Excerpt) Here's your chance to try to diagnose and cure patients as if
you were a doctor in the Middle Ages. There are three patients for you to
cure. Read about their symptoms and then decide what treatment to prescribe.
If you like, you can read more about the symptoms and healing methods of the
Medieval Sourcebook: Bocaccio's Decameron
(Site Excerpt) The onset of the Black Death, was described by Giovanni
Boccaccio (1313-1375). I say, then, that the years of the beatific
incarnation of the Son of God had reached the tale of one thousand three
hundred and forty eight, when in the illustrious city of Florence, the
fairest of all the cities of Italy, there made its appearance that deadly
pestilence, which, whether disseminated by the influence of the celestial
bodies, or sent upon us mortals by God in His just wrath by way of
retribution for our iniquities, had had its origin some years before in the
East, whence, after destroying an innumerable multitude of living beings, it
had propagated itself without respite from place to place, and so
calamitously, had spread into the West.
About.com: Avoid the Plague
(Site Excerpt) Should you forget to get innoculated before you travel back
to the 14th century, you'll need to take some measures to avoid the deadly
Bubonic Plague...Once away from all human contact, wash in extremely hot
water, change into your clean clothes, and burn the clothes you traveled in.
Keep a minimum distance of 25 feet from any other human being to avoid
catching any pneumonic form spread through breathing and sneezing. Have your
armies burn and raze to the ground any nearby houses where plague victims
have resided. Pray to the deity of your choice frequently and fervently.
Stay where you are until six months after the most recent nearby outbreak.
ORB: Medical Misconceptions by Bryon Grigsby
(Site Excerpt) The two greatest misconceptions about medicine arise
primarily from our modern attempts at interpreting the medical system of the
Middle Ages. The first misconception is to see medicine in the Middle Ages
as an unsophisticated system. Early scholars of medieval medicine found
medieval doctors' theories ridiculous when compared to modern ones. Charles
Singer, for example, found medieval medicine demonstrative of "the wilting
mind of the Dark Ages." <1> Singer also believed that medieval medicine,
specifically the Anglo-Saxon herbals, "lacked any rational element which
might mark the beginnings of scientific advance."
Teacher's Guide: Plague and Pestilence
(Site Excerpt) Some remedies from the Middle Ages are becoming increasingly
popular in the world of modern medicine. As gross as it sounds, the use of
leeches is one such treatment that is making a comeback!
Medieval black death not bubonic plague by A'ndrea Elyse Messer
(Site Excerpt) "The symptoms of the Black Death included high fevers, fetid
breath, coughing, vomiting of blood and foul body odor," says Rebecca
Ferrell, graduate student in anthropology. "Other symptoms were red bruising
or hemorrhaging of skin and swollen lymph nodes. Many of these symptoms do
appear in bubonic plague, but they can appear in many other diseases as
Medieval World: Health and Hygiene Links
Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe
(Site Excerpt) This project involves the creation of a hypertext archive of
narratives, medical consilia, governmental records, religious and spiritual
writings and images documenting the arrival, impact and response to the
problem of epidemic disease in Western Europe between 1348 and 1530. When
completed researchers will be able to follow themes and issues
geographically across Europe in any given time period or chronologically
from the first cases of bubonic plague in 1348 to the early sixteenth
Hippocrates on the Web: The Salerno Book of Health
(Site Excerpt-note that you must hit "next" a few times to cruise past the
modern reprint information -of 1920) The Salerne Scholl doth by thefe lines
impart/all health to England's King and doth aduife/from care his head to
keep, from wrath his heart.
Nova Online: History of Biowarfare
(Site Excerpt) In the 14th and 15th centuries, little was known about how
germs cause disease. But according to medieval medical lore, the stench of
rotting bodies was known to transmit infections. So when corpses were used
as ammunition, they were no doubt intended as biological weapons. Three
cases are well-documented..
The Plague Doctor
Site lists Supposed cures, how those cures were supposed to work, and what
they actually accomplished.