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Middle Ages (500 1500)
The Middle Ages followed the collapse of the Roman Empire in about 500 AD. All
the Roman achievements in public health were lost, along with much of their
medical knowledge. Until about 1200 Europe was very unsettled and violent, and
trade and the exchange of ideas declined.
The Church kept alive some of the knowledge of the past in books in its libraries,
looked after the sick, and monasteries had a high standard of hygiene. But it did
not train doctors until after 1200 AD, and held back medical development by
insisting the ideas of Galen were correct. Even the devastation caused by the
plague only reinforced superstitious beliefs, rather then leading to any new ideas.
Although some advances were made in surgery, due to the large numbers of wars
fought at this time, generally there were few medical advances in the Middle
Ages, but rather a decline from the time of the Romans.
Anatomy Dissection was generally forbidden, although sometimes
the bodies of executed criminals were dissected in medical
schools - this was seen as part of their punishment. Mostly
students just looked for those parts described by Galen, but
by the end of the Middle Ages some of his ideas had been
Physiology No new ideas about how the body worked, although some
books by Arab doctors were translated which disagreed with
Galen's ideas about how blood circulated.
Cause Physical - The theory of the Four Humours was known
and accepted by doctors, as shown by the examination
of urine to make a diagnosis.
Superstitious ideas were more common among
ordinary people, most of whom would never see a
Astrology - the position of the planets was thought to
cause disease, or affect its treatment. Religious -
disease was a punishment sent by God (people were
very religious at this time) or due to some other
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Middle Ages (500 1500)
Cure Physical - doctors used cures based on the Four
Humours (such as purging or bleeding), and many
herbal remedies. Ordinary people would probably be
treated by a local wise woman with a herbal remedy,
which might work, or might be useless.
Superstitious - cures such as hanging the beak of a
magpie round the neck.
Religious - many people would pray to God for a cure,
and other superstitious
Doctors Few doctors were trained until about 1200.…read more