Medicine: The Middle Ages
Wine was used to clean wounds during the Middle Ages.

Medicine: The Middle Ages

In GCSE History, the world of medicine and the advancements that have been made over time, is one subject that is looked at. One period studied is that of the Middle Ages.

The collapse of the Roman Empire damaged medicine, but Islamic scholars, for example, continued to develop medical knowledge and techniques both in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Medical schools flourished in continental Europe, in the latter part of the Middle Ages, but the profession was wrong-footed by the arrival of the Black Death.

See how much you know about the world of medicine in the Middle Ages by playing this quiz.

Which of the following European cities was famous for its university medical faculty from the thirteenth century?
It was common for students from one country to study in another before returning home to practise
Surgeons were, for a long time, combined with another profession. Which one?
The prevalence of warfare encouraged developments in surgery
The French and English monarchs were believed to have curative powers when they touched subjects ("touching for the King's Evil"). Which skin ailment was this practice said to cure?
The practice survived into the eighteenth century, but it was not followed in Scotland. James I was taken aback by it when he travelled down to London to claim the English throne in 1603
What proportion of Europe's population was killed by the Black Death from 1348-1349?
One half
One quarter
One third
One tenth
There was no cure for the plague. Most of the remedies applied from time to time were either useless or downright harmful
Christianity had its own explanations for illness. What advice did priests typically give the sick?
To make offerings to the Church in order to counteract the influence of the Devil, who was responsible for all illness
To pray to God, as any sickness could be a punishment from Him
To give away all of their worldly goods
To promise to embark on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem via Canterbury
The advice of the Church rarely involved doctors or medicine
Which Roman medical scientist of Greek extraction was influential in medieval Europe, on account of his numerous published works, and his theories on the need for clinical observation, dissection and the need to maintain a balance among the four humours?
The books were widely translated, and remained standard texts for centuries
Which of the following "causes" of the plague is the most plausible?
Caused by microbes in infected water
Caused by infected fleas from the coats of black rats
Caused by dog bites - in the manner of rabies
Caused by unhealthy air in medieval houses
Ignorance of the precise causes of the Black Death explains to a large extent the huge death toll
Which city in Southern Spain became a major centre of Islamic scholarship, including the study of medicine?
Much of Spain was under Muslim control until the fifteenth century
When the Romans left Britain around 410 AD, medicine suffered a severe setback. Villas were often covered up by the remaining Ancient Britons. What was the main reason why they did this?
They believed that villas contained ghosts and evil spirits
They were unable to operate Roman central heating systems
They misunderstood the need for clean drinking water
They could not operate Roman sewers
Three of these possible reasons concern water supply and sewerage systems, a speciality of the Romans that was lost for centuries after their downfall
Which drink was used as an antiseptic in the Middle Ages, especially in the cleaning of wounds?
The application of strong drink was painful, but medical practitioners swore by it
Author:  Edward Towne

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