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Food as a Source of Healing and Power

  • Bonnie Effros
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Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

When Christians in Gaul became ill, a variety of options were available to them in the sixth and seventh centuries. Some families, mainly those residing in cities south of the Loire or those presumably of means in more isolated locations, sought the assistance of physicians.1 Severe maladies required visits by doctors who diagnosed diseases by means of patients’ urine and pulse, and then chose the appropriate course of action from among a variety of techniques, including bleeding, cauterization, pharmaceutical remedies, dietetic regimens, the application of prosthetic devices, and surgery. While there is plentiful evidence of practicing physicians throughout late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the number of theoreticians in western Europe with extensive knowledge of classical medicine had declined dramatically.2 The last major compilation written in Gaul based on the work of ancient and contemporary Greek authors before the high Middle Ages was the Gallo-Roman Marcellus of Bordeaux’s De medicamentis, written for the sons of the Emperor Theodosius II circa 408.3 This treatise gave extensive attention to the role of herbs in healing as had been done most famously in the first century by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History and Dioscorides in his De materia medica. The latter was a Greek pharmaceutical text translated to Latin some time before the sixth century.4

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Notes

Notes to Chapter 4

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