It is said that 'An apple a day keeps the dentist away.' This has become a common saying
among Society today. We do not stop to think of how it reflects our outlook of Medicine
in our lives. We have come to understand the value of simple practices in order to keep
ourselves healthy. This is not, however, the case of Medieval England. Most 'medical
practices' of the time were based upon superstition, ancient texts, myth, or the direction
of the church. Medical practices of Medieval England often based upon nothing more
than superstition proved unbeneficial if not harmful to the people of England.
Part of the obvious problem was the fact that the common person had little care or
sense for improving their own health. The life and livelihood of an average person was
less than desirable even from the time of birth.
In the villages chronic inbreeding must have produced many children who star-
ted life with a built in weakness, either mental or physical.
Many would die in
childhood, but others who grew into manhood, might drag out a useless exist-
ance, dependent on charity for their sustenance. In general, infant mortality
was extremely heavy....Once the child was free to crawl about among the
unsanitary rushes, with a child's natural instinct to put everything into its
mouth, it is a wonder that any survived. Fromt then on disease and acci-
dent would provide ample scope for a medical service, which was virtually
non-existent. (Tomkeieff 119).
Furthermore, the collective knowledge (what little there was) was held and practiced by
Monks in Monasteries.
In summary of medical practice to the end of 1400, it may be said medicine
was practiced mostly by the clerics in monasteries and the laity whose locus
of operation was the apothecary shop. The physician...