Obesity and Diet in Byzantium

Byzantine Food

I will list some of the causes and consequences of obesity in the Byzantine Empire. However, the aim of this report is to provide evidence to demonstrate that Byzantine physicians had treatments for obesity that are similar to modern day.

From Sin to Science: Astrological Explanations for the Black Death, 1347-1350

15th century image of Death - Majorana, Cristoforo (fl. ca. 1480-1494). Image from New York Public Library

Few survivors of the plague’s horrors could have remained indifferent to debates over its ultimate cause. The frequent evocation of astrology in these debates helped to increase the circulation of astrological ideas in the later fourteenth century, and contributed to the wider vogue they enjoyed during the early modern period

Rabies in medieval Persian literature – the Canon of Avicenna (980–1037 AD)

A woodcut from the Middle Ages showing a rabid dog.

Avicenna described rabies in humans and animals and explained its clinical manifestations, route of transmission, and treatment methods. In this article, our goal is to discuss Avicenna’s 11th-century points of view on rabies and compare them with modern medical knowledge.

Living cheek by jowl: the pathoecology of medieval York

A panoramic view of York in the 15th century. A watercolour by E. Ridsdale Tate produced in 1914,

This paper aims to present the environmental context for disease combined with the human osteological record to reconstruct the pathoecology of medieval York.

Do evolutionary perspectives of morning sickness and meat aversions apply to large-scale societies? : an examination of medieval Christian women

medieval woman

Through an investigation of staple diets, religious dietary views, medical literature, and wives’ tales of medieval Christian women, aversions to animal flesh and animal products among pregnant women do not appear to be supported

Some Pharmaceutical Recipes for the Treatment of the Bubonic Pest Contained into the Kitab Al-Tahsil of Ibn Khatima (d.1369)

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

This paper is a study of fragments of the work entitled in Arabic Tahsil gharad al-qasid fi-tafsil al-marad al-wafid, which was written in the 14th century by the well known Spanish physician Ibn Khatima

Physical Education in the Early Middle Ages


The foundation of our modern gymnastics, including medical gymnastics, was established during the period from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, although the ideas upon which it was based had been in general use since Antiquity.

Melancholia in medieval Persian literature: The view of Hidayat of Al-Akhawayni

Melancholia by Albrecht Dürer

This paper aims to review Al-Akhawayni’s 10th century knowledge on melancholia which can represent the early concept of this disorder in the Near East.

Researchers discover genome of Brucellosis from 700-year-old skeleton

Italy and Sardinia

A 700-year-old skeleton from a medieval village in Sardinia has given researchers new insights into a chronic disease that causes profuse sweating and muscle and joint pain.

Earliest case of Down Syndrome discovered

medieval down syndrome

Researchers in France have discovered the remains of a child from the 5th or 6th century AD that had Down Syndrome. It is the earliest case to have been found so far.

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.

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