Official Post 2- Greg Sloan

During the Medieval England class this semester, we learned about many different aspects of British history and how day to day life was during that time period. We learned about things such as food, clothing, traveling, laws, and many other things. However, as I am a Biology major and I am very interested in science, the one thing that really interested me were the medical and hygiene practices that they used during this time period. The theories and ideas about what caused diseases and other illnesses during the medieval times were very different from what we know today. Their hygiene practices and medical treatments are very different now compared to what they were back then. Hygiene was not as common as it is today. In medieval times, bathing was only common for the wealthy and royal subjects, while the poor usually only cleaned common areas such as their hands, feet, and face. Bathing was also not a thing that was commonly done everyday, and was typically done every other day or every two days, depending on a person’s wealth and status. Another important note on hygiene was that the smell of a person’s breath was more important that actually getting the teeth and oral cavity clean, which could have easily contributed to the spread of disease due to lack of cleanliness. Bathing also tended to be more of a public event, so the elderly and the sick had to rely on others to help them. Their theories and ideas about diseases ultimately affected their health and sanitation standards during this time period. Another thing we learned about this semester that I thought was interesting was how disease was dealt with, both in regards to the patient and to the actual treatment for the disease. Most people in medieval times believed that disease was caused by one of two things, either by the alignment of the planets, or because of God being upset with the people, as most of them were religious in some shape or form. As a result, a lot of their treatments and ways to deal with diseases were impacted by these beliefs. For instance, leprosy during that time was one of the most commonly feared diseases, and therefore people who suffered from it were segregated from society based on the idea that God was punishing them for something they had done wrong. Another example is the Black Plague and how it affected society as a whole. Not only did the Black Plague affect the people who suffered and perished from the disease, but it also affected the morale and hope of the people. The people felt as though there was no hope because a lot of their beliefs about the world were based on religion and God, and during the Black Plague, they though God had abandoned humanity, and therefore they had no reason to live or to move forward with their lives. For me, it was interesting to learn about how their beliefs and traditions impacted so many aspects of their lives, and how it ultimately changed history.


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