Before the discovery of penicillin,
antisepsis, and germ theory necessarily meant that disease was a
constant companion of medieval people. Fortunately, Europe was free
from most epidemic diseases.
There were still poor health conditions
related to famine and malnutrition, but these centuries of thriving
allowed Europe's population to grow to an estimated 75-80 million.
Nearly all fell harder on the very
young, the very old, and those whose resistance was weakened by poor
diet, hard labor, or previous disease.
Medieval physicians would have treated
these illnesses one symptom at a time, with separate prescriptions
for fever, cough, chills, and so forth. This was a time of little
change in medicine. Here are some ideas why medical knowledge and
treatments stayed at the same low level for nearly a thousand years.
Little Knowledge of public health
People forgot about the importance of
There was instability and war.
Communications were poor so it was hard for
doctors to learn or discuss ideas.