Tag Archives: Middle Ages

Middle Ages, Middlemarch, and the mid-twentieth century: Idealism at risk

William Marshall Tucson, AZ   From Stories of a Country Doctor (1891) by Willis P. King, p. 155. Philadelphia: Hummel and Parmele. Via Internet Archive. Public domain. The dissatisfaction with modern medicine felt by both patients and doctors occurs despite unprecedented advances and successes in disease treatment and prevention. Corporate Medicine (huge healthcare conglomerates that […]

Going berserk

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Berserk: frenzied, furiously, or madly violent. – Oxford English Dictionary   Imaginative drawing of a berserker in a fur loincloth. From Den Skandinavska Nordens Historia (The Scandinavian North’s History) by Gustaf Henrik Mellin, published 1850. The British Library on Flickr via Norwegian Wikipedia. No known copyright restrictions. The word berserkr […]

Book review: Medicine in the Middle Ages

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of Medicine in the Middle Ages by Juliana Cummings. In the history of Western Europe, the Middle Ages refers to the period between the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century through the beginning of the Renaissance in the 1500s. These thousand years were characterized […]

Essential tremor in a medieval scribe: extracting hidden historical knowledge from the work of the Tremulous Hand

Andrew Wodrich Washington DC, United States   Annotations and Glosses of the Tremulous Hand. An anonymous homily contained within Bodleian Library MS. Hatton 113, f. 68r – written approximately 1075 AD in Old English – shows the characteristic shaky script of the thirteenth-century scribe known as the Tremulous Hand. These additions are likely to have […]

Medical and literary coupling

Stephen Finn South Africa   (To be read aloud, with gusto and with a strong beat) Collage created by Hektoen staff. Images from left to right. Top row: Portrait of Rabelais, circa 1820. By Louis-François Durrans. From the Rabelais Museum, via Wikimedia; Anton Chekhov, via Wikimedia. Center: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash Bottom […]

St. Audrey Etheldrida

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Medicine is full of strange tales, some with unforeseen ramifications. I recently discovered that the origins of the useful word “tawdry” surprisingly lay in a tumor of the throat—nature unspecified—of a seventh-century saint. St. Audrey, Etheldrida, or Æþelðryþ, born c. 636 AD, was an English princess generally referred to […]

The Valsalva maneuver

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Valsalva’s maneuver. Source It is a paradox that the discovery of the Valsalva maneuver did not relate to cardiovascular physiology but to the treatment of discharges from the ear. Valsalva’s maneuver is now used physiologically1 to test cardiac and autonomic function, and in several other diagnostic and […]

Wet nursing: a historical perspective

Mariella Scerri Mellieha, Malta   A Russian wet nurse, c. 1913. Painted by Frederic de Haenen public domain via Wikimedia. Wet nursing, a form of breastfeeding provided by someone other than an infant’s biological mother,1 has a long and sometimes controversial history. Death in childbirth, a mother’s illness, as well as cultural habits and circumstance […]

COVID-19 and the Black Death

Colleen Donnelly  Denver, Colorado, United States   A street during the plague in London with a death cart and mourners. Colour wood engraving by E. Evans. Wellcome Library no. 6918i. Source During the fourteenth century waves of the bubonic plague washed across Europe. Doomsday books of the age described an apocalypse that wiped out one-quarter […]

In the heart of Damascus

Kera Panni Seaside, California, United States   Propaganda in support of President Bashar al-Assad between the Citadel of Damascus and the entrance to the suq, (May 2007). Personal archives, photo taken by author Even as a child in the American suburbs, I knew my blood flowed from Syria. Relatives said my Jiddoo’s parents were farmers […]