By Toney Allman
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Additional resources for Medieval Medicine and Disease
Alice died in 1250, and at the end of her life, reports the monk, All who caught sight of that body were shocked to a standstill, awestruck as at the sight of some horrible monster. They were convinced no creature could anywhere be found comparable with her for horror. Wholly deprived of the use of her body and of any of its members, she was committed to her bed just as a rotting corpse is committed to the earth, as if to let the rotting itself finish her off. . Her hands, so needed for even her restricted uses, were all long since shrunken from the illness.
40 Fish is sold at a medieval market. Some doctors of the time believed that the painful and disfiguring disease known to them as leprosy was contracted by eating rotten fish. Sometimes society’s fear of lepers turned into hatred and prejudice. In 1276, for instance, London passed a law stating that lepers could not live in the city. ”41 Other people, however, exhibited compassion and care for people with leprosy. Thousands of leper colonies were established throughout Europe; in these colonies people with leprosy were separated from society but also received care, shelter, food, and clothing.
These practitioners added to the contempt that society felt for medical science and physicians. The Plague Forces Change As the plague raged, some of the best and most dedicated physicians did try to develop useful advice and treatments.