Monday, March 09, 2009

Question from Olivia - People with disabilities in Tudor times

How were people with disabilities viewed and treated in the Tudor period? Specifically, are there any records of disabled people among the nobility and at court?


  1. People with disabillities who lived during the Tudor era were viewed as lowly and poor.the disabled were rejected by society.people with disabillities who lived in the Henrican and through to Edward and Mary right through to the elizabethan era lived in churches.They relied on the church for support.The disabled didn't have to work.But some of them worked as bedesmen.Which meant saying prayers with rosary beads to pray for the living souls of the dead.this gave them something to do.Disabled people could work as elementary teachers.Martin luther the founder of the new formed religion lutheranism said of disabled people."This changeling should be drowned".I can't find anything on the nobillity of the tudor period that were disabled.
    This is about people with physical disabillities.As for a mental disabillity that would have been ignored unless severe.Any one can be born with a disabillity no matter who they are.There probably was nobillity who were disabled too.But either wasn't recorded or was recorded but the information was lost or misplaced somewhere.

  2. Also someone with a physical disabillity wouldn't have been allowed access to court or if there happened to be Henry would have ordered there banment from court.As for people with mental disabillities thats entirely different.If the mental disibillity was severe he/she wouldn't be at court.But if he/she was mild/moderate it would have gone amiss.So it is probable that there could have been some people at Henry's court and residences that were disabled but it would have been a mental disabillity because mental disabillities are not so easy to pick up.Even in todays society some of them go by without being picked up.Only if they started demonstating odd behaviour this would have been the only thing that would have picked them up.In the Tudor era this would have just been classed as a mental illness and funny enough still is today by some people.An there must have been some people residing at the King's court that were thought of as mad.Whether this was maddness though or just someone who was mentally disabled.No one then would have been able to tell the difference between the two.Even some people today cant. but as for the ones that don't act weird they would have just been looked at and treated the same as every one else.So this kind would have deffinately and would deffinately go unheard.

  3. Lady Jane Grey's youngest sister, Mary, was stunted and 'crook backed'. There are also several examples of noble women who suffered mental illness. One example would be the duke of Somerset's daughter, Anne.

  4. Debate is still going on wether or not Joan of Castille (Queen Katherine's sister) was actually mad, or was it a political ploy to take control of the throne.

    Joan's grandmother Isabelle, the mother to famous Queen Isabelle, and whom Joan was said to resemble both physically and mentally, was declared mad. This Isabelle is also credited with bringing madness into the family line.

  5. It's also worth noting that it is strongly believed by many that the Holy Innocents (or "natural fools") were people who suffered from what we might now identify as special needs or severe learning difficulties. In particular, Jane, who was the fool in the time of Anne Boleyn, Kateryn Parr and Lady Mary, appears to have slightly distorted facial features in the dynasty portrait which has led some historians to speculate she may have had Down Syndrome or similar. The Innocents were revered as being sent by God and were looked after accordingly.
    As a side note which may be interesting to some, it's believed Will Somer was initially regarded as an innocent because he suffered from a hunchback but became better known as a more traditional jester type of fool (or "artificial fool"). However, hunchbacks were believed to have the gift of prophecy and that is were we get the expression, "I have a hunch...". Strange but (supposedly) true!

  6. The only nobility I can think of that had a disability is Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. He had a spinal deformity.


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