Sunday, July 03, 2011

Question from Ashleigh - Death in Tudor and Stuart England

Hi, I am a senior in high school, i am 18 years old and i am doing a research project for my history class. I have to focus on one aspect of social history in Tudor-Stuart England looking at the idea of continuity and change, i have decided to focus on Death in the time period.
Within this i have to form 3 focusing questions on different things that caused death in that time.
1 - Health and medicines
My question here is: How did the general health of people affect how diseases were passed on with people seeking help from diferent Medical pratices and what sort of diseases/illnesses were the most devatsating?
2 - Witchcraft
My question here is: how did the people view witchcraft in Elizabethan/Stuart Engalnd and why were so many of them killed?
3 - Religion
My question here is: How did differnet religious views of Monarchs control how "heritics" were treated?

My questions have to show a significant and prespective understanding of the aspect studied. I dont think question 1 is very good, it is to long and i dont think it focuses right on what i want it to.

Any help will be much appreciated.


shtove said...

Yeah, Q1 is very broad.

Treatment of the plague is the obvious topic, but primary sources constantly refer to the ague - assumed to be a type of malaria, which presented as a periodic sweating fever (not the sweating sickness, or sudor anglicus), often leading to death. Soldiers on campaign suffered from it all the time, so it was a concern for government. Maybe worth focusing on that.

Q2 & Q3 are linked. Google Reginald Scot and Jean Bodin.

Anonymous said...

This may seem incredibly obvious; but bleeding was used almost indiscriminately as a remedy for anything from a fever to a miscarriage. Some treatments, though, turned out to be more effective than one might think. For example, moldy bread on a wound would have been a precursor to Penicillin. Also common in this time period was the draping of a smallpox victim's room with red curtains and bed hangings. Turns out that the color red filtered out ultra-violet rays which reduced scarring. The history of medicine really is a fascinating subject. Recently, modern medicine seems to be revisiting the use of leaches. Hope this helps you to find ares to explore. Good luck! Mary R.

Anonymous said...

If you choose to go with the subject of witchcraft, you might want to look at Dr. John Dee, who was the personal Astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I. (Elizabeth did not seem to be particularly frightened of the supernatural). James I of England (aka James VI of Scotland) was an avid witch hunter. You might want to look at convictions during his reign. Fun! Mary R.

Anonymous said...

There have been some interesting archaeological excavations in cemeteries in London and, if I remember correctly, surprising little difference in stature, etc. between then and now. There was, however, a common ‘malformation’ in young men (I think it was the right shoulder) from archery practice. Once you survived childhood you had a good chance of living quite a long time, if you were lucky in childbirth and war. Herbal medicines are fascinating: comfrey (knot-bone) was prepared and carried onto the battlefield to mend breaks. Some remedies were dodgy: for gout, dog-skin hosiery was recommended, and daily applications of baked ox-dung wrapped in cabbage. Note doctors were called leeches, I think. The pox was common. Astrology was thought to be important for health: Henry, born under the sign of Cancer (28 June 1491), was thought to be governed by the watery and maternal cycles of the moon. Apothecaries @ Henry’s court included Richard Babham, Cuthbert Blackenden, Thomas Alsop, Thomas Ashe, John De Soda & Thomas Pierson. Physicians included Dr. Thomas Linacre, Dr. Water Cromar, Dr. William Butts, Dr. George Owens and Dr. John Chambre, who attended the births of both Princess Elizabeth & Prince Edward. They were usually men of the priesthood who held ecclesiastical offices as well. The Royal College of Physicians was founded by King Henry VIII in September 1518 with Dr. Linacre as President. Along with the regular physicians, there were also others who attended the king. Dr. Andrew Boorde recorded that the King was "fleshy" with pronounced arteries, possessed of ruddy cheeks and pale skin, "hair plenty and red, pulse great and full, digestion perfect, anger short [and] sweat abundant". There was William Bullein, a Protestant rector from Suffolk, who was Henry’s nurse-surgeon. Some studied overseas: Linacre (c.1460 – 1524) was one of the king’s physicians, having taken the degree of doctor of medicine with great distinction at Padua sometime after 1585: ‘During ten years in Italy, Linacre also studied medicine at Vicenza under Nicholas Leonicenus, a famous physician of the time, and received his degree of M.D. at Padua’. Linacre had been appointed Henry’s physician on his accession in 1509. Several other Tudor physicians studied overseas: Clement left Oxford in the early 1520s in order to study medicine in Italy and he had received his M. D. at Siena by March 1525. He appears to have become involved with the court by 1529, when he and Butts visited Wolsey @ Esher. Some were foreigners, such as the Venetian, Augustin Augustinus/Agostino; Cromar (died 1547); and Balthasar Guersie, the Italian surgeon to Catherine of Aragon. In Henry's final years, he was attended by George Owens, Thomas Wendy (William Butts’ successor) and Robert Huicke. All three seemed to have been witnesses of his will in December, 1546.

Anonymous said...

Additional info:
The most important change in medicine, I guess, was the idea of licensing medical people. ‘It will be curious to turn back from these times to those of Henry VIII to compare the state of surgery when there were but few, says Gale, worthy to be called by that name, and his account of the surgeons attached to the army is worthy of a place here. "I remember," says he, "when I was in the wars at Muttrel (Montreuil,) in the time of that most famous prince, Henry VIII, there was a great rabblement, that took upon themselves to be surgeons, some were sow gelders, and some horse doctors, with tinkers and cobblers. This noble sect did such great cures that they got themselves the name of dog-leaches, for in two dressings, they did commonly make their cures whole and sound forever, so that their patients, felt neither heat nor cold, nor any manner of pain after. But, when the Duke of Norfolk, who was then the General, understood, how the people did die, and that of small wounds, he sent for me and certain other surgeons, commanding us to make search how these men came to their deaths, whether it was by the grievousness of their wounds, or by the lack of knowledge of these so-called surgeons, and we, according to our commandment, made search through all the camp, and found many of the same good fellows, who took upon them the name of surgeons, not only the names, but the wages also. We asking of them whether they were surgeons or not? They said they were. We demanded, with whom they were brought up? And they, with shameless faces, would answer either with one cunning man or the other, who were dead. Then, we demanded of them, what chirurgery stuff they had to cure men withal? and they would show us a pot or a box, which they had in a budget, wherein was such trumpery, as they did use to grease horses' heels withal, and laid upon scabbed horses' backs, with rewal and such like. And others that were cobblers and tinkers used shoemakers' wax, with the rust off old pans, and made therewithal a noble salve, as they did call it. But in the end this noble rabblement were committed to the Marshalsea, and threatened, by the duke's grace, to be hanged for their worthy deeds, except they would declare the truth, what they were, and of what occupations, and in the end they did confess themselves to be as I have declared to you before." (See Pennant and also Aiken's Memoirs of Medicine).

Anonymous said...

Sorry, there's a limitation on size, so my final bit reads:

‘In the third year of Henry VIII it was enacted that no person within the City of London or within seven miles of the same, should take upon him to exercise or occupy as a physician or surgeon except he be first examined, approved, and admitted by the Bishop of London, or by the Dean of St. Paul's (for the time being,) calling to his aid four doctors of physic, and for surgery, other persons of discretion, experts in that faculty. All who came under this act, obtained a license to practise, and were of course equally qualified, whether members of the Barbers' Company or the Company of Surgeons.’ These two Companies were by an Act of Parliament passed in the thirty- second year of Henry VIII cap. xli. united and made into one body corporate by the name of the Barber-Surgeons of London

The problem with increased regulation was that traditional female healers were undermined.