- How did Medieval Doctors tend to their Patients?
How did Medieval Doctors tend to their Patients? The beliefs
about the causes of illnesses were based on the ancient teachings of
Aristotle and Hippocrates. The Medieval Doctors paid attention to a
patients bodily fluids, which were called Humours, or body fluids. The
body of the patient was viewed as a part of the universe. There were
four humours which directly related to the four elements and in
turn the human body. Physicians diagnosed their patients by close
examination of their blood, urine and stools, and determined their
complexion or balance of humours. Medieval Doctors related the Humors to the
condition or illness of the patient and treated them accordingly.
The Medieval Doctors tried to ensure that the four humors were
properly balanced - this led to the practice of bleeding the patient or
applying leeches to suck the blood of a patient. An extract from a
manuscript from the 1200's stated the following:
"Several kinds of medicine may be good such as diet, drink, hot bath
(whence sweat is growing), with purging, vomiting and letting blood.
These taken in due time, not overflowing each malady
and infection is withstood."
The astrological signs of
the zodiac were also thought to be associated with certain humours.
What types of
doctors were there in Medieval Times?
What types of doctors were there in Medieval Times? To qualify as a
Medieval Doctor of Medicine took ten years
so the numbers of such fully qualified physicians remained comparatively
small during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages and there were not enough qualified doctors
to treat the numbers of people. Medicine was administered by different
people during the Medieval times. The type of doctor depended on the class
and whether money was available to pay the fee.
Only the very wealthy would receive the ministrations of a Middle
Ages Physician who would have received an education at one of the
Inferior to Physicians these had a similar reputation to the barbers
with whom they associated and belonged to the Company of Barber
The Barbers were inferior to the Surgeons, although they also
belonged to the Company of Barber Surgeons. They were only allowed
to pull teeth or let blood
The usual route that most people took was to visit the apothecary,
or dispenser of drugs. The Apothocaries belonged to the Grocer's
Guild and sold sweets, cosmetics and perfumes as well as drugs
Medieval 'Wise Woman'
The local 'wise woman' was often the first person contacted by poor
people who used various herbs to produce home made medicines and
The church played an
important role in the lives of Medieval men and women. It was assumed
that diseases of the body resulted from sins of the soul. Many people
did not bother with Medieval Doctors instead they sought relief from
their ailments through meditation, prayer and pilgrimages.
There were some women doctors in Medieval Times, although they were not officially qualified. The
development of university faculties of medicine excluded women from the
profession in the later Middle Ages. But Medieval women doctors were
necessary due to the shortage of male doctors, especially during the
frequent outbreaks of the Black Death. The names of the women Medieval doctors have been lost. However any learned women who wrote
books were remembered for their contribution to medicine. The
Hildegard of Bingen wrote
the Liber simplicis medicinae (Simple Book of Medicine) in 1160. Another
famous woman Medieval doctor, who wrote about the ailments of
women, was an Italian woman known as Trotula - who was referred to as
Dame Trot in England.