Category Archives: Medicine

When Tomatoes Were Blamed For Witchcraft and Werewolves

People have feared tomatoes for 600 years. An illustration of tomatoes from an 1893 catalogue of seeds. BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY/CC BY 2.0 NO OTHER VEGETABLE HAS BEEN as maligned as the tomato (and it is a vegetable, by order of … Continue reading

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From Dog Bites to Amputations: 14th century Surgery

Henri de Mondeville (c. 1260 – 1316) was the surgeon to two kings of France – Philip IV and Louis X. In 1312 he wrote Cyrurgia (Surgery), one of the first works of its kind from the Middle Ages. Based … Continue reading

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Vegetables in the Middle Ages

Vegetables: A Biography, by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, offer the stories of eleven different vegetables – artichokes, beans, chard, cabbage, cardoons, carrots, chili peppers, Jerusalem artichokes, peas, pumpkins, and tomatoes – offering tidbits from science and agriculture to history, culture, and, of course, … Continue reading

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Were the English Sweating Sickness and the Picardy Sweat Caused by Hantaviruses?

The English sweating sickness caused five devastating epidemics between 1485 and 1551, England was hit hardest, but on one occasion also mainland Europe, with mortality rates between 30% and 50%. The Picardy sweat emerged about 150 years after the English … Continue reading

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The English Sweating Sickness

In doing some research on Mary Boleyn for an article, I learned that Mary’s first husband William Carey died of the “sweating sickness” or the “English Sweate” in England in the summer of 1528. Thought I would look into this … Continue reading

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Medieval Toothache: Wisdom, Pain & Poultices

 The most famous of all medieval kings to suffer agonising tooth infections in the very late medieval period was Edward V, who before his death in the Tower of London in 1483 (perpetrator not mentioned here because that’s a whole … Continue reading

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