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Medieval Health (Life)


As one can imagine, medieval health was terrible. Doctors based their knowledge in faith; resulting in poorly treated patients who prayed for forgiveness.

Before the XIII century, real doctors were scarce and inexperienced. For a big city such as Troyes, only a dozen doctors at most healed patients with "real medical methods". They were reserved mostly for the king and aristocrats who paid them an extraordinary wage depending on their healing success. For the rest of the populace there were no doctors other than monks and downright quacks. They practiced on patients for a minimal fee and rarely did any good. In fact, they often gave patients the first herbal remedy they could think of - regardless of it being good or not.

The church always taught that health depended on religion. Catching a disease was a punishment directly from God. Furthermore, prayer was the sole way to acquire God's forgiveness and thus corporal health.

The main reason why old known healing methods did not work for Europe is that most of the knowledge derived from Greece, Rome, Egypt or the East where translators failed to preserve information. The original document was often translated three or more times: From Egyptian manuscripts to Greek to Latin to English, French, etc. An additional problem was the lack of a well-defined written language. In the case of Middle English, those who could write did it based on their hearing. Subsequently, many didn't understand each other.

This began to change after the XIII century when hospitals and schools appeared throughout Medieval Europe. After the XIII century, it was easier for doctors to share information and points of view. This turned healing from being completely empirical to a science per se; unfortunately, a century later the Black Death struck Europe killing millions. This very unfortunate event led the church to center health around religion again.

Antibiotics did not appear until the XIX century and healing was not effective until then. However, after Europe recovered from the Black Death, doctors once again shared knowledge and made many discoveries, which not only prolonged human life, but also made it better.

Throughout the Medieval Times there existed a strong bond between health and religion. Even when doctors practiced revolutionary healing methods, such as meditation, the common belief was that, for example, kids with Down's syndrome were possessed by the devil. This mentality lasted for centuries.

 
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