Middle Ages

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  • 500AD - 1500AD
  • the collapse of the Roman Empire led to the Dark Ages (regression)
  • Saxons came over to Britian and reintroduced medical cures based on mostly superstition and magic
  • all books were destroyed except for the works of Galen
  • roads were destroyed so new ideas became more difficult to spread
  • public health system fell to disrepair - destruction of aqueducts/public baths, no sewage system (open sewers in the road), cesspits/dunghills in the street, infected water
  • money was spent on war - didn't see the importance of public health
  • Christian Church was re-established

Influences of the Church

  • Catholic churches dominated Britain - most powerful group
  • church ran universities - providing education
  • most highly educated people were members of the church
  • they restricted knowledge and discouraged new ideas
  • believed that illness was a punishment for sins
  • faith healing - prayer and penitence would cure them
  • positive feelings of healing - placebo effect
  • medical care for the poor often came from hospitals set up by the monasteries
  • looked to God for the answers - didn't look for a natural cause
  • 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' - monks washed quite frequently however this access of clean water wasn't available to the members of the public
  • life after death - believed if they suffered in this lifetime then they would be rewarded in heaven
  • the treatment at monastery hospitals was very basic - care, not cure
  • Hotel Dieu in Paris - the King's Doctor and Pare both worked there
  • hospitals were very uncommon
  • dissection was banned as it was deemed offensive to God
  • however…


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