Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Cancer and Medicine in the Middle Ages

In his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee traces the history of cancer as it has been seen in the past and continues on through the innovations in cancer treatment in the 20th century and on to the exciting research going on now and the possible future of cancer treatment.  It’s a really cool book.  But one of the things that struck me was his statement that cancer has always existed and has been identified since ancient times, but that other diseases generally killed people before cancer could take hold.

Mukherjee spends some time talking about cancer in the Middle Ages in his book.  The observations he makes about how Medieval doctors viewed what we would later call cancer are not only fascinating, they are surprisingly advanced.

Medical knowledge in the Middle Ages, as you might imagine, was light years behind what we know now.  This was before germ theory, before an understanding of contagion, and well before almost all effective surgery and anything but naturopathic medicines. (more…)

Trotula, Medieval Medical Doctor

By Anna Kathryn Lanier

First, my apologies for not posting a blog on Seduced by History since May. I have had a very difficult summer, which I won’t go into, but I look forward to posting my monthly blogs for now on…hopefully, life will cooperate with my plans!

Today, I am writing about Trotula, also known as Trotula di Ruggiero, Trotula Platearius, Trota and Trocta, a medieval female physician who wrote several influential works on medicine, the most prominent of which is known as Trotula Major, a book on Passionibus Mulierum Curandorum ( The Diseases of Women).  Another work Practica Secundum Trotam was of general medicine. She also wrote about skin diseases and herbal treatments. All of these medical journals have been revised, revisited, referred to, plagiarized and used for more than five hundred years.  But who is Trotula?