The use of animals in medicine of Latin tradition: Study of the Tresor de Beutat, a medieval treatise devoted to female cosmetics

Medieval women - make up

The Tresor de Beutat is a medieval treatise written in the 14th century. It contains a set of medical and cosmetic recipes aimed exclusively at women.

Two Rabbinic Views of Christianity in the Middle Ages

Picture of Medieval Jews

In the sessions of our section over the past decade, I introduced a significant distinction between two rabbinic attitudes in the Mediterranean countries during the Middle Ages of 12th and 13th centuries as to their view of Christianity.

Medieval Images of the Human Body

wound man - Medieval Images of the Human Body

Fascinating and strange medieval images of the human body.

Medicine on Trial: Regulating the Health Professions in Later Medieval England

Blood letting

Given the hurdles one faced in trying to stay healthy in later medieval England, it should come as no surprise that the medieval English placed a premium on competent medicine.

Richard III had severe scoliosis but was not a hunchback, researchers find

Richard III spine - Spinal Curvature - Credit- University of Leicester

Scientists and researchers have completed their study on the spinal column of Richard III, and have also released a 3-D model of the spine.

‘Sadly and with a Bitter Heart’: What the Caesarean Section Meant in the Middle Ages

Caesarean Section

The article presents a unique historical document, a notarized act of 1473 drawn up for a Provençal barber surgeon commissioned to extract a fetus from a corpse

Galeata: chronic migraine independently considered in a medieval headache classification

Migraine - Sasha Wolff from Grand Rapids

We aim to review main headache classifications during Classical antiquity and compared them with that proposed in the 11th century by Constantine the African in his Liber Pantegni, one of the most influential texts in medieval medicine.

A forgotten plague: making sense of dancing mania

In a spin: the mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518

On Christmas Eve in 1021, 18 people gathered outside a church in the German town of Kölbigk and danced with wild abandon.

When banquets were dangerous for the soul

When banquets were dangerous for the soul

What used to happen during wedding banquets that could threaten the integrity of people?

Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)

The results indicate that there are significant differences in survival and mortality risk, but not birth rates, between the two time periods, which suggest improvements in health following the Black Death, despite repeated outbreaks of plague in the centuries after the Black Death.

What was the best wine in the Middle Ages?

best medieval wine

When medieval people chose what wine to drink, they might check at its colour, smell and taste. More importantly, the choice was often an individual one based what was the healthiest drink for them.

The history of foxglove poisoning, was Edward IV a victim?

king-edward IV

The history of foxglove poisoning, was Edward IV a victim? Peter Stride (University of Queensland School of Medicine, Australia) Fiona Winston-Brown (Librarian, Redcliffe Hospital, Australia) Richard III Society: Inc. Vol. 43 No. 1 March (2012) Abstract Edward IV, having been obese, but otherwise apparently in good health, died after an acute illness of only a […]

The Cyrurgia of Albucasis and other works, 1500

13th_century_anatomical - medicine

Four surgical treatises, printed in the last year of the fifteenth century, make up the oldest illustrated printed book in the Sibbald Library. The second one, the Cyrurgia of Albucasis, is the most interesting and I shall deal only briefly with the others.

Childbirth Miracles in Swedish Medieval Miracle Collections

childbirth medieval

The chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth was very real for medieval women, and still is in many Third World countries. In Medieval Catholic Western Europe, including Scandinavia, these risks, and the absence of medically schooled persons who could give efficient help, led many women to turn to the saints for intercession.

Herb-workers and Heretics: Beguines, Bakhtin and the Basques


During the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the word beguine was used by women to identify themselves as members of a wide-spread and influential women’s movement. The same term was used by their detractors and overt opponents, with the highly charged negative meaning of “heretic.” The etymology of the term “beguine” and ultimate origins of the movement have never been satisfactorily explained.

Cold and Wet, Hot and Dry: The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing

The Knowing of Womans Kind in Childing

The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing is an important and significant medieval medical text because it has a self-identified female audience and a female-orientated medical focus.

What Medieval Teeth can tell us

medieval teeth

When a University of Oklahoma researcher and an international team of experts analyzed the dental calculus or plaque from teeth preserved for 1,000 years, the results revealed human health and dietary information never seen before.

Sickness in the Nidaros Cathedral?

Sickness in the Nidaros Cathedral?

Up towards the ceiling vault of the Nidaros Cathedral, a number of artworks are hidden from public view. Many of the stone sculptures portray mythological animals and other scary creatures. In such company, one would imagine that human faces were also intended to evoke fear and anguish. Do they depict people with diseases?

The Red Sea and the Port of Clysma. A Possible Gate of Justinian’s Plague

Plague of Justinian

The aim of this study is to present the sea and land commercial routes of the Byzantine Egypt and their role in the dissemination of the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis from the Red Sea to Mediterranean ports. The Mediterranean port of Pelusium was considered as the starting point of the first plague pandemic…

When Urine is like Snot – Middle English Uroscopy Texts

Detail of the lower part of the folio showing urine glasses with different bands of colour and floating particles at various levels, with the colours marked in Greek: 'kyanos' (blue), on the left, and 'inopos' (wine-coloured) on the right.

People in late medieval England were concerned about their health, and like their modern-day counterparts they might turn to self-help guides. One of the most popular ways to do this in the Late Middle Ages would be to analyze your own urine.

The Stench of Disease: Public Health and the Environment in Late-Medieval English towns and cities

Petergate, York. By C.Monkhouse - 19th century

This article explores the urban environmental concerns of late-medieval English towns and cities and argues that these urban areas had a form of public health.

Prevalence of Maxillary Sinusitis in Leprous Individuals from a Medieval Leprosy Hospital

Cranium of leper, with deformed eye cavities, nose, jaw and chin. At the museum Ribes Vikinger, Ribe, Denmark. Photo: Cnyborg/Wikicommons

An investigation into maxillary sinusitis in the remains of individuals from the medieval hospital of St. James and St. Mary Magdalene, Chichester, England, offered an opportunity to study the possible relationship between this condition and leprosy in an archeological population.

Genomes of Richard III to be sequenced

Richard III

A scientist at the University of Leicester is leading a project to reveal the complete genetic profile of Richard III, which will reveal details such as eye and hair colour, and if he was genetically-disposed to certain diseases.

The Vikings and Baron Dupuytren’s disease

Viking skull

Dupuytren’s disease (DD) is an ancient affliction of unknown origin. It is defined by Dorland as shortening, thickening, and fibrosis of the palmar fascia producing a flexion deformity of a finger.

Is There a Doctor in the Castle?

Ulrich Pinder. Epiphanie Medicorum. Speculum videndi urinas hominum. Clavis aperiendi portas pulsuum. Berillus discernendi causas & differentias febrium. Nuremberg: 1506. Rosenwald Collection. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (128.2)

To picture medieval medicine is to picture screaming patients being bled or cauterized, perhaps biting some sort of leather belt or other. While bleeding and cautery were definitely part of the medieval medical tradition, there were many other remedies to be found, some surprisingly modern.

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