Public health in the middle Ages

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Created by beth_goodbody over 5 years ago
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Public health in the middle Ages
1 Water
1.1 Drinking water was collected from rivers or storage pits, which were often next to cesspits, which is where people went to the toilet.
2 Towns
2.1 Without public health systems, medieval towns were much dirtier than roman ones.
2.2 During 5th and 6th centuries, Britain was taken over by the angles and Saxons who couldn't read and were not interested in Galen, baths or sewer systems.
3 Animals
3.1 Pigs and chickens roamed the streets. Rats and mice scavenged the streets that were full of rotting fish bones, animal dung, food waste and human faeces. Cattle, sheep and geese were butchered in the streets ready for sale.
4 Decline of Public Health
4.1 All roman engineers left meaning the knowledge was lost of how to keep the baths/sewers/aqueducts working.
4.2 War: Invading tribes destroyed public health systems and burned Galen's books. It also made travel dangerous, so doctors could not gain experience or an education.
4.3 Kings: They believed their job was to fight wars, not spend taxes on public health.
5 Problems and solutions to Medieval towns
5.1 Improvement to medieval towns: Cesspit. By 1200 stone was being used to build foundations for buildings and to line the cesspits, which reduced the amount of faeces leaking into the drinking water.
5.2 Problem: People dropped litter and faeces in the street. Solution: Small number of rakers were employed to clean the streets, but not enough.
5.3 Problem: Open sewers ran through the streets. Solution: Building of public toilets but were not looked after well enough.
5.4 Problem: Animals were butchered in the streets and butchers dumped rotting animal meat into rivers. Solution: Laws to punish those breaking the rules but there were only a few officials to enforce the punishments.
5.4.1 This solution didn't work because councils did not have enough money or officials to be able to enforce the laws and knew people wouldn't pay the taxes to clean the streets.
5.5 Why solutions didn't work: The king collected taxes for fighting wars, not improving public health; he didn't see it as his job.
5.6 Why solutions didn't work: Ordinary people wouldn't pay taxes to improve public health as they believed that god caused disease.
6 Treatments
6.1 Herbal remedies: Many cures were passed down from generation, they were used because it made people feel better E.G Honey was used for sore throats.
6.2 Religious beliefs: People believed that god caused disease, therefore, people in the middle ages would pray to god if they were ill, they may also carry a charm, or consult astrologers to look at the planets.
7 Galen
7.1 Galens work continued to influence medicine. Rich people might consult physicians who would prescribe treatment based on Galens books. Usually bloodletting or purging, based on the story of the opposites and the four humours.
8 Training of doctors
8.1 The training of doctors saw little change from the roman era to the start of the middle ages. It was based on reading books or working with a successful doctor. Monastries and convents later became centres of learning until 12th and 13th centuries when universities were set up to train doctors.
9 Places for treatment.
9.1 Hospitals: Usually run by monks and nuns as part of their Christian duties. Their work was based on care rather than cure as they believed that god caused disease, therefore people with infectious diseases were not admitted. Beds were positioned so the patients could see the altar; religious statues and images on stained glass windows to help them focus on religion and be healed.
9.2 Almshouses: Places where the 'deserving' poor and old could rest, not intended to be hospitals but people were cared for whilst there.
9.3 Leperhouses: These were set up to isolate those with leprosy away from healthy people, no treatment was available.

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