This week’s Winning Wednesday winner is Adrie Ashford. In order to win the prize of the Behold the Dawn mouse pad, she answered the multiple choice question “Which of the following was not a common medical practice in the Middle Ages?” The correct answer is D “Anesthetics.”
Bleeding, visits to sacred relics, and herbs were all common responses to illness. Although herbs and alcohol were used to deaden pain to some extent, anesthetics weren’t at all prevalent. Most patients had to suffer through their ailments without the aid of any kind of painkiller.
A few interesting facts about health and medicine in the Middle Ages:
- People—ignorant and educated alike—believed physical diseases stemmed from spiritual causes. Because illness was supposedly brought on by sin, they were convinced that penitence at the shrine of a saint would erase not only the sin but the illness as well.
- The Church looked upon any practitioners of the medical profession who attempted to cure the physical symptoms without addressing the spiritual origins of the illness, as little less than heretics.
- Superstition often led people to believe their ailments were the result of witchery, which they then attempted to fend off with charms and amulets.
- Whelk shells, cuttlefish, and oyster shells were ground into a powder for cleaning teeth, but were available only to the wealthy, who used the application more for cosmetic purposes than hygiene.
- Leprosy was legislated against in much the same manner as common crimes, such as theft. A confirmed leper was condemned as an outcast in society, with no civil rights whatsoever. In the eyes of the law, a leper was a nonentity, no matter his former station.
This week’s prize: A Behold the Dawn keychain and a Wordplay pen.
This week’s question: At the time of the Third Crusade (1189-1192), was the use of plate armor prevalent?
In Behold the Dawn, Marcus Annan talks with Marek, his indentured servant, as he begins to remove his armor after competing in a tourney:
“That Count Heladio—or whate’er his name is—you know the bucko in charge of this here tourney thing. Well, appears his nephew got himself killed out there today.” Marek squinted. “In the last hour or so, they say.”To enter this week’s contest, use the form at the bottom of the left-hand column to email your best guess. Deadline is Tuesday, August 25, 6:00 p.m. MST. One name will be selected from the correct entries and announced next Wednesday.
“They can’t know that,” Annan said. “The bodies won’t be collected ‘til morning light.”
“Well, all I know is this Count person seemed to know what he knew. And he’s none too rejoiced over it, neither. He’s got him about half a score o’ men-at-arms, and he’s riding out to find the man what did the deed.”
“It’s a tourney. Men are killed all the time.” Annan looked down at the dirt and blood crusted on the back of his armored gauntlets, and he flexed the stiffness in his sword hand. “Matters not to us, anyway. Unsaddle the horse and rub him down before he binds up.”
Marek made a face. “How many’d you kill today?”
“A few.” He tugged the glove from his hand. “One for certain.”
Marek lifted both eyebrows, and Annan knew what the lad was thinking before he could give it voice. “Master—”
“Crusade. I know.” He yanked the glove from his left hand. The leather underside had ripped earlier that day, and a dark bruise filled his palm. As if a Crusade could ransom him.
Story by K.M. Weiland