Medicine in the Medieval Period

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Medicine in the Medieval Period

In the 14th Century, trade around Europe was increasing ships

regularly and travelled from the Mediterranean to other parts of

Europe. In 1348 one ship brought a devastating plague to England.

Source 1-Written by a monk from Malmesbury in Wiltshire, in the


"In 1348, at about the feast of the Translation of St Thomas the

Martyr (7 July) the cruel pestilence, hateful to all future ages,

arrived from the countries across the sea on the South coast of

England at the Port called Melcombe in Dorset. Travelling all over the

South country it wretchedly killed innumerable people in Dorset, Devon

and Somerset…next it came to Bristol, where very few were left alive,

and then travelled Northwards, leaving not a city, a town, a village,

or even, except rarely, a house, without killing most or all of the

people there so that over England as a whole a fifth of the men, women

and children were carried to burial. As a result there was such a

shortage of people that hardly enough living to look after the sick

and bury the dead."

According to modern historians Source 1 underestimates the effects of

the BLACK DEATH. It is now estimated that over 40% of the people in

England died. Towns and Ports were hardest hit. Villages and farms in

the hills were the safest. Further outbreaks of the plague came in

1361, 1369, 1374 and 1390. It killed quickly and painfully.

The Black Death included two kinds of pestilence:

· Bubonic plague made people suddenly feel cold and tired. Painful

swellings (buboes) appeared in their armpits and groin and small

blisters all over their bodies. This was followed by hi...

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duty to care for the sick, but it was not until the 1100's that it

actually took many practical measures to encourage this teaching. In

the eleventh century the church started to open up medical schools

where the ideas of Galen were taught. It also set up hospitals run by

nuns and monks.

These were not hospitals as we understand them today. Out of the 1200

medieval hospitals identified in England and Wales, only around 10% of

the, actually cared for the sick. The others were called hospitals

because they provided 'hospitality' for visitors.

Most of the hospitals in England and Wales, which did care for the

sick, were founded in the 1100's and 1200's.

Some hospitals specialised in certain kinds of patients. Such as 'un

married pregnant women', 'poor and silly persons' and 'the blind, deaf

and mute'.

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