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Medical Knowledge

There were not many trained doctors in medieval Europe and medical
knowledge was basic and usually ineffective. For example, in Paris in 1274
there were eight doctors and about 40 people practicing medicine without any
official training.

Complete the following brainstorms:

What causes illness


today?

How do we know what


causes illness today?

What did doctors understand about diseases and their treatment?


Medical knowledge was very _________ in the fourteenth
century as there was little understanding of the _________
of disease. Treatment by poorly _________ doctors was a
risky business and medical remedies were largely based
on ________________ and ignorance. It was commonly
believed that illness arose from miasmas, or deadly
airborne vapours, and that God sent illness as a
_________________. The church ______________ the dissection of
corpses, so little was known about the workings of the
human body. To make a _____________, doctors used
medical books, urine samples and even ________________
charts. Some doctors believed bad smells or small
physician visiting the sick in a
worms caused disease. Others blamed bad luck or the A
hospital, German
position of the planets or _______. Operations would very
easily result in __________, as there was no knowledge of ______________ or of the need
to sterilise surgical _____________. Hospitals were places of isolation of the sick- or
homes for the blind, lame or elderly- rather than being places to regain __________.
Despite their lack of accurate knowledge, doctors charged high _________, often
because the ingredients for their cures had to be imported form outside Europe.

People used _________ to suck the bad blood from someones veins and laughed at
anyone who displayed symptoms of __________ illness.

Religion and illness
In Christian Europe, illness and misfortune were believed
to be signs that a person had _________ against God and was
being punished. Before practicing medicine, a physician
was required to ask the patient if they had ____________ their
sins. Muslims believed that illness was a _______ sent from
God to give the person an opportunity to become more
faithful in their devotion to God.

Herbs were used widely to


flavor food and for home
remedies

Christianity encouraged the use of ________ as medicine. Muslims also believed that
God had created a cure for every illness, and that it was a Muslim doctors duty to
seek out that cure. Cures, therefore, ultimately came from God.

Word Bank:
superstition
trained

basic

confessed

astrological
diagnosis
causes
mental

instruments
health
sinned
herbs

antibiotics
stars
prohibited
punishment

fees
death
leeches
test

Source Analysis

Compare Source One with a modern


diagram of a human body. What can you
learn from this about medieval doctors
knowledge of the body?
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What two opinions about doctors does


John of Salisbury provide in Source Two?
1. ______________________________________
______________________________________
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2. ______________________________________
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What does Source Three show about


conditions in a medieval hospital?
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Comprehension
1. What indication is there of the Churchs influence in medieval medicine? In
your opinion, does the Church still have an influence on medicine today?

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Medicine and Treatment in the 21st Century



In pairs, complete the following two questions:

1. What do our local councils do to prevent the problems that led to disease in
medieval times?

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2. What protection does the Australian government provide today to ensure that
all Australians can get medical care?

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