It is thought that only about 10% of all Tudors lived to be beyond their 40th birthday – and one of the reasons, among many, was the poor standard of Tudor medicine and medical knowledge.
Smallpox was a highly contagious, potentially disfiguring and often deadly disease which had no cure and no effective treatment.
Henry VIII contracted smallpox, as did his forth wife Anne of Cleaves but his daughter Elizabeth I was the family member to become seriously ill with the disease. In 1562 her doctors thought that she would die. Fear gripped her people as Elizabeth was unmarried and had no heirs. The queen was lucky and she survived with only a few pockmark scars. The ‘cure’ was thought to be caused by ‘the red treatment’ which was administered by the queen being wrapped in a red blanket and placed by a fire.
Continue reading “Tudor cure for Smallpox Demons…”
Tudor physicians believed that fish could cause leprosy, Fresh fruit was considered unhealthy and the stars could put our bodies ‘humours’ completely out out of balance.
The bills of mortality show that Tudor people thought they could die from things such as: wind, worms, gripping of the guts, the teeth, a cough and even of surprise. There were many other Tudor ailments that we don’t even think of as being fatal or even ailments at all. Tudor beliefs about health and medicine can be very strange to modern eyes.
Readers could be forgiven for feeling that the surviving notes of doctor Hall, who practiced in Elizabethan England are more like spells from J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books than anything like the serious medical documents they were intended to be:
To stop bleeding from the nose a small cloth was dipped into frog spawn and left to dry. This little ‘tent’ was then inserted into the nostril. (Frog spawn was meant to cool burns and inflammation.) Then clay was applied to the forehead, temples and neck. Continue reading “Tudor medicine… Frog’s spawn anyone?”