medicine through time

  • Created by: 13froyle
  • Created on: 17-11-17 18:06

Did medicine progress or regress from about 500 AD

Medicine both progressed and regressed during this period.


-In the West, learning collapsed.

-The only authority was the Church and books survived only in monasteries.

-But the Church prevented experiment by insisting that disease had a spiritual cause.


-monks began to experiment with herbs and other cures and in many ways these must have resulted in better understanding of how to treat disease.

-In the Islamic world, the eighth and ninth centuries were very important in medicine.

-Many books were collected and translated into Arabic and cities became the centres of learning. Cordoba had a central library of 600,000 books.

-Islam also emphasised washing and the giving of alms. These led to better medical practice and the building of many hospitals for the poor.

1 of 9

'Religion only hindered the development of medicin

religion both helped and hindered the development of medicine during this period.

-In Christian Europe, the Church safeguarded what books had survived the collapse of the Roman Empire and preserved medical knowledge in monasteries.

-prevented any new developments being made by banning dissection and experiment.  monks often cared for the sick because it was part of their Christian duty.

-In the Islamic world, however, many discoveries were made and these often were influenced by religious belief.

-Cleanliness and alms were two of the five Pillars of Islam and had great influence on medical developments.

-Frequent washing improved standards of hygiene and alms-giving often led to the creation of hospitals and medical treatment for the poor.

-Islamic doctors had access to the complete works of Galen and other writers and were able to make further discoveries.

-considerable development in surgery and in the care of the sick.

distinguish between the influence of religion and the influence of the Church.   

2 of 9

'Medicine in Christian Europe did not recover from

-very few important developments in medicine from the end of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance.

-real change did not take place until the nineteenth century.

-The destruction of central authority and with it buildings and books meant that doctors could not be trained and new ideas could not spread.

-The only surviving authority was the Church.

-taught that doctors should only care for the sick and leave curing to God.

-Church banned dissection and experiment and gave its backing to the teachings of Galen.

-Doctors,  had little option but to toe the line until the weakening of the influence of the Church and the availability of printing in the sixteenth century.

-Medical schools were established from the twelfth century and dissection was possible in some universities in the fourteenth century.

-Knowledge of anatomy improved.

-The colour of urine began to be used as a means of diagnosis.

3 of 9

Explain how new technology aided the development o

-ligatures for sealing blood vessels to staunch the flow of blood

-Malpighi and the microscope 1661observe the capillaries and filled in harveys missing knowledge so docters might beleive his findings more. -Inoculation- based on an easily observed medical fact - that those who contact an infectious disease and survive are protected against catching it again. Inoculation is a precautionary measure but is similar to Jenners ideas.

-Jenner and vaccination: 1796-1798 -Johannes Gutenberg  printing press 1440 (knowledge could spread so much faster)

4 of 9

‘The Renaissance made little difference to the dev

-there were important discoveries, but Paré, Vesalius and Harvey all faced considerable opposition

-Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood was the only major development

-treatments at the end of the seventeenth century were no better than at the beginning of the sixteenth

-the Great Plague in 1665 was tackled in much the same way as the Black Death in 1348–49

-the Four Humours still dominated medicine and blood-letting was widely used

5 of 9

Explain the importance of the work of Edward Jenne

- country doctor who observed that milkmaids who caught cowpox did not catch smallpox.

-decided to test his theory that cowpox protected a person from smallpox.

-He injected James Phipps and then later exposed him to smallpox. He survived. Although many doctors attacked his discovery, he was awarded large sums of money by Parliament.

-Vaccination also spread to North America and Jenner received a letter of congratulation from the President of the USA.

-vaccination for infants was made free in 1840 and compulsory in 1853.

-smallpox was the first epidemic disease to be conquered.

-Jenner could not explain how or why his discovery worked.

-It was the result of simple observation and a readiness to take risks.   

6 of 9

'There were no important developments in medical u

-Miasmas and an imbalance of humours were the main beliefs in 1700 and were still accepted in 1800.

-Some doctors had begun to believe in spontaneous generation, which was a slight improvement, but this was not an important development.

-Edward Jenner did make a major breakthrough in understanding. Until he demonstrated the effects of vaccination in 1796, there was no evidence that people could protect themselves successfully against a disease.

-There were attempts to protect against the plague by wearing masks, burning barrels of tar and keeping windows closed, but these did not target the specific disease.

-Jenner showed that an individual disease could be effectively prevented.

-few people at the time realised the wider significance of his discovery.

-In 1880, when Louis Pasteur developed a culture that could kill anthrax, he named it a vaccine as tribute to Jenner.   

7 of 9

'The most important developments in eighteenth-cen

-Real progress is impossible if doctors are restricted by technical weaknesses or inaccurate scientific knowledge.

-The new technology of the Renaissance had led to major discoveries in medicine but further breakthroughs were impossible until science and technology made them possible.

-The Industrial Revolution was the most important factor for change in technology.

-Glass for better lenses

-the thermometer had been invented by Fahrenheit and developed by Celsius. This would have been impossible without improvements in the production of glass and the discovery of chemical elements.

-medicine had changed relatively little in thousands of years.

-Jenner's discovery of vaccination was made possible by observation and the technology he used had not changed for centuries.

-Further progress would only be possible when scientific knowledge improved and when technology enabled doctors to observe bacteria.   

8 of 9


9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Medicine through time (OCR History A) resources »