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Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

At turn of fourteenth century, priest John Mirfeld, who lived on grounds of St. Bartholomew's Abbey in London, published two important Latin encyclopedias for monastic community and nearby. Used by hospital staff.

One is a collection of materials on medicine and physical health for those who do not have free access to specialized libraries, and second includes a speculative or theological collection dedicated to achievement of mental health.

Both volumes are to contain text of popular advice manual known as "The Mode", with one volume being an abridged version of other, reflecting seamlessly symbiotic integration of current ideas. with teachings of Church.

When this most fundamental thing is lost, restoring a healthy constitution is difficult, if not impossible. Factors to avoid disease and slow down aging process.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

As we will see:

Diet, "the number one remedy", plays a vital role in fight against disease.

The same applies to a clean environment, where air is free of contaminants and miasms associated with plague and invigorates rather than infects those who breathe it.

Stress is a source of physical and mental illness that can be cured through actions that dispel anger, depression, fear, and other negative emotions.

A reasonable balance between exercise, rest and adequate sleep hygiene also plays a part in unnatural, as do procedures such as bloodletting and use of agents that can rid body of potentially dangerous substances.

In contrast to relatively brief description of "motion and rest" in many contemporary vernacular texts, Millfield's extensive treatment of them in his work is as striking as sentences offered, for although his scheme is far from original, it is copied almost verbatim. . is a word from Bernard Gordon's 1308 book A Humane Defense of Liberty, but it still feels awkwardly modern.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

His advice to clergy is a clear example that their vocation and status prevent them from playing sports in public:

The image of St. Bartholomew's cannon or brothers in nearby hospital "training" like today's athletes or bodybuilders is striking, although such anachronisms are usually best avoided.

Some regimina may have emphasized role of exercise as a means of strengthening musculature, but development of a perfectly sculpted and sculpted torso was never intended purpose of such an activity.

The purpose and value of physical exercise as understood by authors and readers of advice texts widespread in England at end of Middle Ages and beginning of sixteenth century.

While other aspects of program, especially those related to nutrition and emotions, have attracted much interest from medical and cultural historians, this fascinating topic has been largely ignored.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

The authors argue that exercise is clearly considered key to a regimen, amplifying other unnatural factors, while Liffe's lengheting does not promote immediate well-being, its main function is to increase and redistribute Innate body heat, Greek physician Galen of Pergamum memorably described it as "nature's chief instrument".

But it also promotes digestion and waste elimination, promotes restorative sleep, promotes emotional well-being, and transports one to a fresh, uplifting environment. In short, it is necessary for physical, emotional and spiritual health, eloquently defined as:

Pure rest of soul and body in fresh air, because then a person is exposed to healthy air and looks with joy at near and far sky, sea and green landscape.

Therefore, he had to praise, praise, and praise Lord his God, and therefore exercise is good, because in some way it unites man with his Creator.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

Moreover, since late 1340s, everyone has sought to protect themselves from plague by adopting appropriate systems that would remove potentially lethal substances without exposing pores to miasma.

Even animals cannot escape current notions of importance of activity, and among other extreme political theorists, vigorous exercise will cleanse social organism of any idle and unproductive elements.

As John Mirfeld puts it in words of a stout but bashful beggar who foreshadowed Tudor calamity:"As stagnant water rots iron and As all other metals rust from underuse, so do makers of overuse. rest, feeders and multipliers of evil and causing decay in limbs of body and in blood of a person.

The suggestions made by medieval regimina were based on deeply rooted and largely unquestioned assumptions about human physiology in works of Galen and other classical authorities.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

In a healthy person, any excess is excreted in urine, leaving a slight imbalance in favor of a certain humor that determines their temperament, however, a marked excess or lack of heat, cold, humidity or drought can be destructive and, if not corrected, leads to illness and possible death.

Blood and other humoral substances together make up natural spirit, which is transported from liver to organs and limbs, providing nourishment necessary for survival and growth, some of which goes directly to heart, which is source of heat, and therefore of life itself.

Flows from right to left through diaphragm, then mixes with air in lungs, enters arterial system, becomes a warm foamy substance, aptly called vital spirit, which carries heat to rest of body, thereby keeping it alive. .

According to Galen, vital spirit entering brain is filtered through a network called rete mirabile in upper part of spinal cord, and after mixing with air from nostrils, this purified blood not only has ability to activate nervous system, but also ability to be intermediary between sensory perception and parts of brain responsible for imagination, thinking, reason and memory.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

Now by translating into animal spirits, it truly energizes mind and body, influencing attitudes and behaviors according to individual's personal temperament, although nature spirits can be altered through procedures such as diet, medicine and bloodletting, life spirits and animal spirits have a significant impact on air quality, more sensitivity to environment, smells, images and music.

Exercise, especially when performed in a pleasant environment, plays a vital role in supporting every element of this complex overall system.

Given these beliefs, timing and type of physical activity is crucial, as many authorities explain, whether strenuous physical labor performed by laborers and craftsmen such as carpenters and masons, or constant exercise on foot or on move. horseback riding does not fall under specific remit of regime.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

The "Lechecraft Exercises" described in its pages are voluntary and selective, carefully planned to coincide with third and final intravenous stage of digestive process, when humoral substances diffuse outward from liver.

This is "the most important step in sustaining life", and some doctors describe it as a fusing process that "sticks together" body's components, while others believe fluid turns into actual flesh.

The great Arab physician agreed with Galen that a vigorous daily regimen would render unnecessary aggressive cleansing normally used to detoxify, which is often hastened by depletion of body's basic water stores as body ages.

Obviously, some precaution is needed, because if left to rot, these "nameless" fluids can cause swelling, rashes, and lesions that portend a profuse or dangerous overdose.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

They interfere with delivery of nutrients throughout body, pollute living spirit, and ultimately suppress heart itself, just as skeptical French surgeon Henri de Mondeville attacked pilgrims for their gullibility to Saint Eligio. The apparently miraculous "healing" of fistula documented in his tomb had nothing to do with divine intervention, as he claimed at time.

In contrast, natural heat generated by "physical exercises of pilgrimage" was enough to dispel "cold, damp, and undigested fluids" that contributed to this agonizing state.

Breathing exercises are an alternative method of flushing out toxins from body and are ideal for those whose choice is limited by age or disability.

Bernard Gordon advises his readers: "If you don't have anyone who plays sports", keep your short hair as long as possible and blow it out as usual.

Therefore, from a medical point of view, decision of when to exercise depends on dietary habits of individual, especially since doing energetic activity at wrong time, when very full or completely empty, prevents flow of food to Efficient Transformation . spirit of nature.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

After Avicenna, who suggested checking urine frequently to determine exact moment in digestive process when activity would be most beneficial, urine began to thicken and turn yellow, but did not yet acquire a bright hue. indicates starvation. Exercise during this time can be extremely dangerous.

Of course, ordinary people could not take such careful precautions, but they could still benefit from literature on offer, such as Secret Documents, widely circulated in vernacular from late fourteenth century onwards, and proved to be basis of a bestseller of early Tudor English prosperity in development of print culture.

Originally intended for guidance of a ruling elite,Secreta survived in several late medieval English editions for wider use, as shown in a sumptuous gold-relief manuscript for future consumption by Edward III in 1326.

Among various "protection of Herta" rules that Aristotle gave to his student Alexander Great, there are clear, understandable suggestions for exercise, in line with directions already described, with exception of most basic, except for theoretical basis, all other suggestions have been deleted.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

Like other members of royal family, Secreta emphasizes dangers of fatigue after eating, urging readers to "walk carefully" for a short time after eating, "or ellis stonde ryght vppe so that you can completely go down to bottom stomach and relax on a soft bed.

This precaution will allow food to slowly settle into place, because, as we have seen, "dry nature hastens from inside out and causes digestion."

Late medieval travelers traditionally gave advice on how to deal with excessive consumption of food and drink, suggesting that, as today, foreign travel was a welcome excuse for excessive excess.

The recommendations for this metric are medical, not explicitly ethical, and clearly reflect time assumptions discussed above.

Health in Late Medieval England: Physicians Like Galen on Maintaining Health

Walking through Clean Air Highlands costs nothing, is accessible to all but really aging, and, as an added bonus, is most effective exercise of its time. One of a kind.

Moderation, defining feature of regimen, remains guiding principle, because no matter how young and active a person is, episodes of discomfort, fatigue, or shortness of breath are often considered warning signs that it's time to stop.

This is perfect advice, and data on conspicuous consumption of food and alcohol by royalty, aristocratic families and wealthier English monasteries shows that expert opinion often remains muffled. On other hand, people who care about their health can put themselves pushed to extreme.

Realizing that some of his patients may exercise to point of exhaustion, doctor warns that when overexerted, exercise can be as detrimental to animal spirit as compulsive exercise or chronic insomnia, leading to "or sense organ" "fall apart and wither away."

Document Source:

Humanism defends Bernard Gordon's freedom

Lily Medicine, Bernard Gordon

Rereading Galen is a review of Galen's Medical Thought by Liu Hong.

The best doctor is also a philosopher——On relationship between philosophy and medicine in Ancient Greece. Tu Jiangbo

Greek and Roman Medicine in Classical Cultural and Educational Tradition - An Interpretation of Galen's On Functions of Parts of Body 3.2.6–3.2.13[J]. Zhang Xuanqi

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