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Advancements In Medicine Essay

1596 words - 7 pages

During the Middle Ages, medicine was limited. This was critical because in 1348-1350 the Black Death killed millions, nearly one third of the population. Physicians had no idea what was causing diseases or how to stop them ("Medicine in the Middle"). The Catholic Church told its people the illness was punishment from God for their sins (Gates 9). Some of the only procedures doctors could perform was letting blood by using leeches, and mix ‘medicines’ using herbs, spices, and resins (Rooney 106-107). Other medicine was administered by drinks, ointments, poultices, baths, and purges (Rooney 120). One hundred years later, when Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, many scholars moved to Italy, where they freely exchanged ideas. With them the scholars brought their libraries of books, giving European scholars access to the Greek and Latin culture. As new ways of thinking spread from Italy across Europe, this time period became known as the Renaissance, which was an era of discovery. As explorers returned with new discoveries and information, Europeans expanded their knowledge about astronomy, botany, and geography. Scientists like Copernicus and Galileo studied the world using observation and experimentation. Thanks to Gutenberg’s printing press, this new information was available to anyone who could read. For this reason the ideal Renaissance man was expected to be a well-rounded scientist, artist, mathematician, and philosopher all in one. The way people thought about medicine changed during this era. These changes brought about unique surgical methods, instruments, medicines, and practices, with a a few notable people. The Renaissance era of discovery did much for the world of medicine.
People feared the consequences of disobedience, or thinking differently from Church teachings. Physicians wanted to learn more about the human body and its functions, however, the Catholic Church was very influential over its people and did not allow corpses to be dissected because then the people might interpret things different from the church, "so it was often the bodies of criminals...that were used" (“History of Medicine”). The church taught that illness was a punishment from God, and people saw no point in trying to find cures because they naively agreed with the church (Gates 9). If the people tried to find a cure, they would be accused of making a move against God by the church. Instead, the Church just wanted prayer, devotion, and faith and the Church discouraged the use of herbal remedies. This caused friction between the Church and physicians (Nordqvist).
In the Renaissance time, there were not barbers and surgeons as we know them today. Barber surgeons could be found in most medieval towns and, as well as cutting hair, were also known for small surgical procedures (McPeak, Commissioner). A regular surgeon however, tended to be known by reputation as much as qualification (Bellerby). Barber surgeons also happened to be more common because all you...

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