Tudor Medicine

Picture of a Tudor Doctor

Picture of a Tudor Doctor

 

Tudor Medicine

  • Lack of Sanitation
  • Beliefs and clothes of the Tudor Physician
  • Tudor Doctors
  • Tudor Medicine - Treatments
  • History, facts and interesting information about Tudor Medicine

Tudor Medicine

Tudor Medicine
Tudor Medicine was extremely basic during a period when terrible illnesses such as the Bubonic Plague were killing nearly one third of the population of England. The underlying cause of many of the Tudor illnesses was the lack of hygiene and sanitation, especially in large towns such as London but knowledge of Tudor medicine was so limited that this was an unknown cause of illnesses.

Tudor Medicine and Illnesses - Lack of Sanitation
During the Tudor period there were open sewers in the streets which were also filled with garbage which was occasionally removed and the waste was dumped into the nearest river. The houses were built close to each other and diseases were easily spread in this unsanitary environment where fleas, lice and rats all flourished. There was no running water, this was obtained from water pumps which was the main cause of the spread of typhoid. London was particularly vulnerable to diseases and the Bubonic Plague was transmitted by the fleas that lived on rodents and animals, especially the rats which came to London on the ships carrying products from distant lands. The knowledge of Tudor medicine was not able to combat such terrible illnesses.

Tudor Medicine - Beliefs of the Tudor Physician
The above picture is of a Tudor Physician. The strange clothes and mask worn by the Tudor Physician probably saved his life and prevented him contracting the illnesses of his patients such as the Bubonic Plague and Typhoid. Tudor Medicine was basic, Physicians had no idea what caused the terrible illnesses and diseases. The beliefs about the causes of illnesses were based on the ancient teachings of Aristotle and Hippocrates. The Tudor Physicians paid attention to a patients bodily fluids, called Humours, which explains the reason why patients where subjected to 'bleeding'. Other beliefs of the Tudor Physicians centred around Astrology. The Tudor medical profession had no idea what caused the plague - the best medicine they could offer was to bled the patient or administer a concoction of herbs, as we said Tudor Medicine was extremely basic.

Tudor Medicine - The Clothes of the Tudor Physician
The Bubonic Plague (also called the Black Death) was carried by fleas and transmitted normally by rats. The clothes of the Tudor Physician completely covered him from head to foot, even his face was covered by the ghastly mask. Strong boots and gloves covered his hands and feet. The bizarre masks, featuring long beaks which contained begamot oil, would have acted as protection against contracting the disease through breathing the same air as the victim. The clothes and coverings of the doctors would have certainly provided protection from flea bites and therefore reduced the possibility of contacting the plague. Amulets of dried blood and ground-up toads were worn around the waists of the Tudor Physicians. It was their custom to douse themselves with vinegar and chew angelica before approaching a victim. Although this might sound pointless today, these precautions would have protected the Tudor Physician and had they realised the benefits would have increased the effectiveness of Tudor medicine.

Tudor Medicine - Tudor Doctors
Tudor Medicine was administered by different people. The doctor depended on your class and whether you had money to pay the fee of the doctor.

  • Only the wealthy would receive the ministrations of an Tudor Physician who would have received an education at one of the Universities and the College of Physicians. The usual fee would be a gold coin worth 10 shillings - well beyond the means of most Tudors
  • Tudor Surgeons were inferior  to Physicians and had a similar reputation to the barbers with whom they associated. The surgeons belonged to the Company of Barber Surgeons
  • Barbers were inferior to the Surgeons and were only allowed to pull teeth or bleed patients
  • The Tudor Apothecary was dispenser of drugs and Tudor medicine. The Apothecaries belonged to the Grocer's Guild and sold sweets, cosmetics and perfumes as well as medicine
  • The Church provided some comfort for the poor and medicine was concocted from herb gardens
  • The local 'Wise Woman' was often the first person contacted by poor people who would administer basic medicine derived from their knowledge of plants and herbs

Tudor Medicine - Treatments
Tudor medicine and treatments were basic, to say the least. Letting blood was conducted by cupping or applying leeches. The Tudor Medicine used to treat various illnesses were as follows:

  • Bubonic Plague was treated by lancing the buboes and applying a warm poultice of butter, onion and garlic. Various other remedies were tried including tobacco, arsenic, lily root and dried toad to produce an effective medicine
  • Head Pains were treated with sweet-smelling herbs such as rose, lavender, sage, and bay.
  • Stomach pains and sickness were treated with wormwood, mint, and balm.
  • Lung problems given the medical treatment of liquorice and comfrey.
  • Vinegar was widely used as a cleansing agent as it was believed that it would kill disease.

Tudor Medicine
Each section of this Tudors website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about Tudor Medicine. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Tudors!

Tudor Medicine

  • Interesting Facts and information about Tudor Medicine
  • Lack of Sanitation
  • Beliefs of the Tudor Physician
  • The Clothes of the Tudor Physician
  • Tudor Doctors
  • Tudor Medicine - Treatments
  • History, facts and interesting information about Tudor Medicine

Tudor Medicine

Tudor England - Britain - Tudors - Life - Rich - Poor - History - Information - Facts - Info - Era - Life - Times - Life - History - Information - Facts - Info - Era - Life - Times - Life - Britain - Tudors - Life - Rich - Poor - History - Information - Facts - Info - Era - Life - Times - Life - History - Information  - Facts - Info - Era - Life - Times - Life - Tudor England - Written By Linda Alchin

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