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What influence did religion have on the development of medicine in the middle ages?

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What influence did religion have on the development of medicine in the middle ages? After the decline of the Roman Empire the two religions of Islam and Christianity took control over the development and progress of medicine. This period of time lasting from 1000AD till 1500AD was named the Middle Ages .During this time Islam and Christianity influenced medicine in both positive and negative ways in many areas of medicine; which will be analysed through this essay. The downfall of the roman empire had a dramatic affect on Europe and Asia the majority of their engineering and medical breakthroughs were lost forever. However some of their books were rescued from the ruins. The majority of these books were located in Europe in monasteries were they were translated by monks. These monks were the main contributors to the medical progress from a Christianity perspective. They read the books of Galen and Hippocrates and approved of their theories saying they fitted in with their beliefs about god. The acknowledgement and acceptation of Glens and Hippocrates theories was a highly influential step in the middle ages as it meant that medical knowledge could no longer go backwards in terms of knowledge. Although many spiritual beliefs did come back as influenced by the church. The church in the middle ages had most of the power and would do anything to keep people under control and under their power. ...read more.


These physicians showed very little medical knowledge at all and many of there patients died from the things they did to them; an Italian poet said "I have died of to many physicians". Surgery in these times was also poor because of the church people could not carry out dissections so therefore knowledge of the human body was minimal. People cut open pigs to learn about anatomy which wasn't very accurate. surgeons were generally part time workers they would usually be a butcher or a barber. European doctors were not all bad they did carry vademecums which were a little reference book which contain supersititious theories such as a zodiac man: this was the astrological theories behind illness. Each star sign related to a part of the body which is said to affect the person due to there birth sign e.g. During Pisces avoid cutting the feet. Also if a persons star sign was Pisces they would have trouble with their feet. As well as this and other supernatural theories it also contain a urine chart which told the doctor about the persons health due to what shade/colour it was. On the whole doctors in Europe were pritty bad and had little medical knowledge. Women were not allowed to train as doctors but there were "wise women" who would help the sick and advise them on spiritual cures. ...read more.


He wrote about many types of surgery including dentistry. Unlike Catholics the Arabs did set up hospitals the most famous being Al Mansur in Cairo. As well as looking after the sick in these hospitals doctors were trained there. They had separate wards for male and female patience wit quarantined areas for fevers, eye troubles and wounds. They introduce pharmacy and new drugs such as benzoine, camphor and myrrh. They also progressed in chemistry with the techniques of distillation and sublimation. Also paper was invented in china replacing papyrus so therefore Glens work and Arab doctor's work could be written down with ease and spread around quicker. The Arabs had a vast knowledge of diet and personal hygiene and knew many herbal remedies which were more effective than the superstitious treatments going on in western Europe. The only restriction was the fact that dissections were forbidden so knowledge of anatomy didn't progress. As shown throughout the essay both religions of Islam and Christianity had both positive and negative effects on medical development. Islam had more of a positive influence due to the fact they had more knowledge and dint go back to spiritual theories. The strong beliefs in god asserted by the catholic church restricted progression although the Koran did hold the Islamic doctors back just not as influentially. On the whole both religions helped in the treating and teaching of medical theories. Although neither religions provided for those who wanted to look for new theories/ideas. By Ben Mendo ...read more.

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