Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing 1540-1740

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 224 pages
Author: J. Evans & S. Reid
Year: 2017
ISBN: 9781473875715
Other: b&w photos, bibliog, index
Publisher: Pen & Sword

Maladies and Medicine offers a lively exploration of health and medical cures in early modern England. The introduction sets out the background in which the body was understood, covering the theory of the four humours and the ways that male and female bodies were conceptualised. It also explains the hierarchy of healers from university trained physicians, to the itinerant women healers who travelled the country offering cures based on inherited knowledge of homemade remedies. It covers the print explosion of medical health guides, which began to appear in the sixteenth century from more academic medical text books to cheap almanacs.

The book has twenty chapters covering attitudes towards, and explanations of some of, the most common diseases and medical conditions in the period and the ways people understood them, along with the steps people took to get better. It explores the body from head to toe, from migraines to gout. It was an era when tooth cavities were thought to be caused by tiny worms and smallpox by an inflammation of the blood, and cures ranged from herbal potions, cooling cordials, blistering the skin, and of course letting blood.

Case studies and personal anecdotes taken from doctors notes, personal journals, diaries, letters and even court records show the reactions of individuals to their illnesses and treatments, bringing the reader into close proximity with people who lived around 400 years ago. This fascinating and richly illustrated study will appeal to anyone curious about the history of the body and the way our ancestors lived.


Part 1. Head Complaints
1. Migraine and Headache: A Laborious and Dull Sense
2. Epilepsy: The Sacred Disease
3. Palsy: Paralysis or Shaking
4. Eye Complaints: Light Without Hear
5. Toothache: Rotten Worms

Part 2. Abdominal Maladies
6. Disorderly Bowels: Gripping Guts
7. Jaundice: Shedding Choler
8. Kidney and Bladder Stones: Easing the Passage

Part 3. Whole Body Ailments
9. Agues: Frequent Fits of Fever
10. Cancer: In the Crab's Claws
11. Diabetes: The Pissing Evil
12. Dropsy: Drowning in Water
13. Gout: A Painful Guest
14. Irritating Infestations: Rubbing and Scratching
15. Pestilential Plague: A Devine Affliction
16. Scrofula: The King's Evil
17. Scurvy: Scabs, Spots, and Stinking Breath
18. Smallpox: Red Pustules and Scarlet Cloth

Part 4. Reproductive Maladies
19. Greensickness: The Virgin's Disease
20. The Whites: A Most Troublesome Disease
21. Infertility: A Defect in the Seed
22. False Conceptions and Miscarriages: Breeding Moles
23. Venereal Disease: The French Pox, a New Disease

List of Illustrations

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Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing 1540-1740


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