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Medieval Medicine

Medieval Medicine A Medieval HospitalWestern medicine advanced very little in Europe during the Middle Ages.  Scholarship fell into the religious sphere, and clerics were more interested in curing the soul than the body.  Many theologians considered disease and injury to be the result of supernatural intervention and insisted that cures were only possible through prayer.  No new medical research was conducted, and no new practices were created.  Physicians simply perpetuated the church-approved classical techniques developed by Galen and others that were preserved in ornately decorated, hand-copied texts produced by monks. Christian concern for the ill and injured, as well as contact with the Arab world during the crusades, did, however, lead to the creation of many large hospitals built and run by monastic orders.  Although little was done to cure the patients, they were usually well fed and comforted by a religious nursing staff.

Surgeons Amputate a LegAlthough medicine and surgery were related, medieval practitioners drew a distinct line between them.  Generally, physicians treated problems inside the body, and surgeons dealt with wounds, fractures, dislocations, urinary problems, amputations, skin diseases, and syphilis.  They also bled patients when directed by physicians.   Many of today’s surgeons can trace the origins of their specialties to the teeth-pullers, bone-setters, oculists, and midwives of the middle ages. 


June 21, 2010 - Posted by | medicine, middle ages |

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