Winning Wednesday: Keychain and Pen

Behold the Dawn by K.M. WeilandThis 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.”

Health in the Middle Ages

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.
  • Wounds might be rubbed with snow, where available, before bandaging.

Congratulations, Adrie! Your prize is in the mail! Please feel free to enter again.

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?

Excerpt From Behold the Dawn

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.”

“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.

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.

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Nothing like a little cuttlefish toothpaste! 😀

    This facts were fascinating. Reminded me of the Bible verse when Jesus was asked about the sick son.

    ~ Wendy

  2. Yeah, I can just see cuttleflish replacing peppermint as the toothpaste flavor of choice! Yum!

  3. Can you imagine no pain med or anesthetic? good lord! *ouch*

    However, all of this is facinating to me. In a history class I took at LSU (college courses I took in my 40’s) I did a audio-visual report on the medicine and surgical practices from ancient Rome…. interesting!

  4. Sounds fascinating! One of things I find esp. intriguing is how much science (including medicine) devolved from the peak of the Roman civilization to the Middle Ages.

  5. intriguing is how much science (including medicine) devolved from the peak of the Roman civilization to the Middle Ages.

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