Heavenly Healing or Failure of Faith? Partial Cures in Later Medieval Canonization Processes

The Healing of Palladia by Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian, by Fra Angelico

When thinking of miracles as source material for the conceptions and everyday life of the laity, miracles with remaining symptoms provide an interesting sub-type of a healing miracle.

Medieval Advice for Students Away From Home

Medieval Students

By Danièle Cybulskie Over the last few weeks, countless parents have kissed their sons and daughters and sent them off to study away from home, loading them up with advice and admonitions to take good care of themselves. Hundreds of years ago, medieval parents were loading up their own children with love and advice, too. […]

Medical Practice, Urban Politics and Patronage: The London ‘Commonalty’ of Physicians and Surgeons of the 1420s

15th century image of a Physician setting a dislocated arm

Medical practice in fifteenth-century England is often seen as suffering from the low status and unregulated practice of which Thomas Linacre later complained.

Did Henry VIII Suffer from Head Trauma?

Henry VIII

By Danièle Cybulskie It’s a question that pretty much anyone looking at the arc of his life ends up asking: what happened to Henry VIII? From a hugely-admired prince, to a widely-feared king, the transformation in Henry’s behaviour and outlook would seem like the stuff of fiction, but for the fact that history bears out […]

‘Do You Not Know I am a Healer?’ Royal Authority and Miracles of Healing in High Medieval Lives of Kings

Edward the Confessor

Today I’d like to place in comparative perspective the reputations for miraculous healing achieved by two high medieval royal saints: Edward the Confessor of England and Óláfr Haraldsson of Norway.

Monastic medicine: medieval herbalism meets modern science

Folio from a manuscript of the De Materia Medica by Dioscorides (ca. 40-90 AD),
showing a physician preparing an elixir. From Iraq or Northern Mesopotamia,
perhaps Baghdad.

A group of German researchers is bringing to light the medicinal wisdom of the Middle Ages.

The Herbal Cures of Hildegard von Bingen – was she right?

A 12th century depiction of Hildegard of Bingen

There is a 1 in 10,000,000 chance that Hildegard von Bingen was just making up her list of medical cures based on herbs and plants.

The Ideal Medieval Hospital: St. John of Jerusalem

British Library Royal 6 E VII f. 70

Let’s take five minutes to look at what may be the most famous hospital of the Middle Ages: The Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem

The Healing Power of a Garden – A Medieval View

A medieval garden - from British Library MS Royal 6 E IX   f. 15v

When it came to healthy living, medieval people were careful on what they ate. It was commonly believed that foods could offer good (and not-so-good) consequences to the body, but it was hard to remember what ailments a certain food could cure. In steps Henry of Huntingdon to offer us a poetic guide to the healthy and medicinal qualities of what you can find in a garden.

Uterine cancer in the writings of Byzantine physicians

The eminent byzantine physician Paul of
Aegina (ca. 625-690 AD).

Byzantine physicians recognized uterine cancer as a distinct disease and tried to suggest a therapeutic approach. The work of Oribasius, Aetius of Amida, Paul of Aegina, Cleopatra Metrodora and Theophanes Nonnus reflects the Hippocratic-Galenic scientific ideas as well as their own concept on this malignancy. According to their writings uterine cancer was considered an incurable disease and its treatment was based mainly on palliative herbal drugs.

Chastity belts and birthing girdles

A sketch of a chastity belt from an early 15th century manuscript of "Bellifortis" - perhaps included as a joke.

Chastity belts have been the subject of schoolroom and music hall humour for as long as most of us can remember. But did they really exist and for the purpose suggested?

The Vikings, their worms, and the diseases they got

Photo by Charles Starrett / Flickr

The Vikings and people of the Norse world would have been predisposed to emphysema and other lung conditions, according to a paper published last week in Nature: Scientific Reports.

23 Medieval Uses for Rosemary

Rosemary illustrated in British Library MS Egerton 747   f. 85v

In the Middle Ages, Rosemary was considered a wonder plant, which could be used to treat many illnesses and keep you healthy. One 14th century writer found 23 uses for it, including keeping your hair beautiful and preventing nightmares!

What type of tremor did the medieval ‘Tremulous Hand of Worcester’ have?

Page from The old Englisch Homely on the life of St. Chad, written by 'the ‘Tremulous Hand of Worcester’

Scholars have recognized for some time that a prolific 13th century scribe had a tremor. He has become known as ‘the Tremulous Hand of Worcester’, or simply ‘the Tremulous Hand’, ‘hand’ being a metonym for ‘scribe’.

The influence of Christianity on medicine from Graeco-Roman times up to the Renaissance

12th century medicine

When Christianity became the state religion in the 4th century, the Church Fathers became increasingly authoritarian regarding the practice of medicine which was to be based on their interpretation of Galen.

Medieval Hangover Cures

A drunk monk? This might be St. Arnulf of Metz (582 -640), the unofficial patron saint of beer.

Here are a few hangover cures from days gone by, because people who partied like it was 1399 also needed a little help the morning after.

5 Things to Pack in Your Medieval First Aid Kit

Can cobwebs be medicine?  Photo by / Flickr

Here are five things that would have been a handy part of a medieval ‘first aid kit’ and that (incidentally) science is slowly proving can still be counted on to work in a pinch.

The Sick and The Dead: Medieval Concepts of Illness and Spinal Disability

christina lee talk

There is an often erroneous idea that past societies were a) very sick, and b) didn’t care about the sick. This as I want to show is not the case. I will show examples of illness, but I also want to show that ideas of what is sick and what needs healing are not the same as our own.

Medical Lore in the Bestiaries

9th century image from the Physiologus

Some time in the first part of the Christian era, perhaps as early as the second century, there emerged a curious collection of zoological fables and religious moralizations called Physiologus.

Top 10 Medical Advances from the Middle Ages

Dissection of a cadaver, 15th century painting

Medieval medicine has often been portrayed as a time when physicians were ignorant and health care remained the stuff of superstitions and quackery. However, a closer look reveals that were many ways in which medical knowledge and care improved during the Middle Ages. Here are our top ten medical advances

The medical licensing examination and the world of the physician officers in Korea’s Joseon Dynasty

Map of Gongju area, part of Korea during the Joseon dynasty

This article aims to describe the world of physician officers during the Joseon Dynasty.

Skriðuklaustur monastery: Medical Centre of Medieval East Iceland?

Excavation site of Skiðuklaustur in Iceland from the fifteenth century.  Photo by Christian Bickel / Wikimedia Commons

Skriðuklaustur monastery was the youngest of nine cloisters operated in Iceland during the Catholic period of the Middle Ages.

The first case of pagophagia: the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus

Emperor Theophilus, in the Chronicle of John Skylitzes

This paper describes a unique case of snow consumption by the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus (829-842 AD), who according to the narrations of the historians and chroniclers of those times was an ice eater, developing a pathologic craving for iced water and snow.

The Mad Norse King

King Sigurðr depicted by Gerhard Munthe (1849–1929)

What happens when the mental health of a medieval King of Norway declines and falls into madness? The story of Sigurðr the Crusader, who reigned for over 25 years, reveals a fascinating account of mental illness from the 12th century.

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