Medieval medicine and modern medicine






The logic and principles of medieval medicine shaped those of Modern medicine. Never was there a more efficient method perfected, so much that it remained through history through so many hundreds of years. Today’s concepts of diagnosis, relationships with the church, anatomy, surgery, hospitals and training, and public health were established in the Middle Ages.
In the Middle ages, the modern idea of society taking responsibility for its poor with public health care was established. Many of these ideas stemmed from religious groups.
Although the Christian church was very involved with public health, it wasn’t the only church embracing science. In fact, medicine and public welfare today more closely resembles Muslim systems and treatments during the Middle ages than the Christian system. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is to care for those less fortunate than themselves. Many Muslim rulers interpreted this by setting up hospitals in cities all over the Islamic world. By the 12th century, the city of Baghdad had 60 hospitals. Other Muslim hospitals were spread throughout Cairo and Damascus and the Spanish cities of Granada and Cordoba. London was just then building its first hospital. Not only more hospitals existed in the Islamic Empire than in Europe, but also the medical treatment was usually far superior. Our hospitals today still closely resemble those that existed in Muslim society during the Middle ages. Muslim hospitals had separate wards for different diseases, trained nurses and physicians and stores of drugs and treatments for their patients. Most hospitals taught medical students and were inspected regularly to ensure that they were up to standard. Students received a certificate to prove they had attended and from AD931 onwards all doctors in Baghdad had to pass an examination to get a license to practice. Modern medicine is almost entirely dependent on these concepts alone!
Meanwhile, in London in the Middle Ages, if there was a major epidemic it was more than likely that you would die a horrible death. The Black Death wiped out 1,000,000 people in Britain alone. There was however, hope. An early form of what we call welfare today developed. Poor people couldn’t afford to see a doctor. A single doctor\'s fee was usually about a month\'s wages for a laborer. For the utterly impoverished, a common alternative was the local apothecary.
Also, our notion of pharmacies is mostly based upon the apothecary from whom it evolved. The Apothecary primarily made and dispensed medicines. Shops could be found in most cities. Prescriptions were made up under the orders of a physician. We would not have a pharmacy, as we know it today without the Middle aged method.
Public health may have remained a pool of disease was it not for the reforms made in the middle ages Though the town authorities tried their best, London was probably the most unsanitary town in England. Slowly, however, rules were made and enforced. In 1301 four women butchers were fined for throwing the blood and guts of slaughtered animals into the street. By 1370, 12 teams of \'muck\' collectors combed the streets for animal and human excrement - money could be made out of it by selling it to local farmers (which helped further spread the various diseases…)
London wasn’t sanitized in a day, though. There was usually only a big hole for a toilet that several houses needed to share. When it became full it slopped over the sides and ran down the streets. Chamber pots were often dumped from an upstairs window. Needless to say, being a pedestrian must’ve been decidedly bad. (Yucky). In 1372 this was made illegal.
Without the changes in acceptance towards scientific medicine made in the Middle Ages by religions, (or especially those towards scientific diagnosis), our population today would probably be far sicklier and more ignorant. (Not to mention much smaller) When Islamic and Christian religions embraced logical medicine during the Middle Ages, medicine was finally free to be practiced openly with the church. In Muslim countries, medicine was regarded as very important, and doctors held a high status. In this period, doctors began to move away from a spiritual explanation for disease towards a system based on observation and diagnosis. They were influenced by the texts of Claudius and Hippocrates.
Many of the medieval concepts