Medieval medicine [ 1000-1500 ]


Astrology played an important part in Medieval medicine; most educated physicians were trained in at least the basics of astrology to use in their practice. Medieval medicine was a mixture of existing ideas from antiquity, spiritual influences and the “shamanistic complex” and “social consensus.”In this era, there was no tradition of scientific medicine, and observations went hand-in-hand with spiritual influences. In the early Middle Ages, following the fall of the Roman Empire, standard medical knowledge was based chiefly upon surviving Greek and Roman texts, preserved in monasteries and elsewhere. Ideas about the origin and cure of disease were not, however, purely secular, but were also based on a world view in which factors such as destiny, sin, and astral influences, played as great a part as any physical cause. The efficacy of cures was similarly bound in the beliefs of patient and doctor rather than empirical evidence, so that remedia physicalia (physical remedies) were often subordinate to spiritual intervention.

A dentist with silver forceps and a necklace of large teeth, extracting the tooth of a seated man. London; England, 1360-1375.

13th century illustration showing the veins.

Female physician: women practised all branches of medicine during the Middle Ages.


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