Chapter

Disease

Robert A. Scott

in Miracle Cures

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520262751
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520946200 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520262751.003.0005
Disease

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This chapter examines in greater detail the common forms that illness took during the Middle Ages. It draws on two kinds of sources: studies that describe diseases common in this period, and reports of miracle cures that appear in registers of medieval healing shrines. No studies of medieval illness employ modern standards of epidemiological research. Instead, the chapter must rely on sources that supply hints and clues, which are often murky. Some of these come from the studies by medical historians, and some from medievalists who study the epidemics that periodically swept these societies. Still others come from research that describes patterns of morbidity in contemporary societies whose standards of living, life expectancy, and patterns of economic development approximate those of medieval and preindustrial Europe. By piecing data together from these varied sources, the chapter develops a rough picture of the patterns of morbidity characteristic of medieval populations.

Keywords: illness; Middle Ages; diseases; miracle cures; medievalists; epidemics; morbidity; societies; life expectancy; Europe

Chapter.  5715 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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