The Arc Blog and Podcasts

Finding Modern Medical Treatments in Medieval Places

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="257"] Pentafillos (Cinquefoil) and Columbaris (Vervain) from Pseudo-Apuleius Herbal, 11th century, Bodleian MS Ashmole 1431, fol. 6r. The Old English Herbarium credits Pentafillos, or ‘fifleafe’ in Old English, as a curative for anything from joint ache to stomachaches and headaches to even ulcers. To the author’s knowledge, however, the efficacy of fifleafein these recipes has not been tested recently.[/caption] At this year’s Society for General Microbiology’s Annual Conference, researchers from the University of Nottingham presented results from tests using a modern recreation of a 10th-century cure for a stye (an infected eyelash follicle). This Anglo-Saxon eye-salve recipe, found...

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Getting the Words Out (and Back In): What to do When a Plague Image is Not an Image of Plague

[caption id="attachment_220" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1: Image as it appears on Wikipedia, originally with the caption “Plague Victims Blessed by Priest”[/caption] In October 2012, Dr. Monica Green, Professor of History at Arizona State University posted an informative commentary on the medieval medicine listserv MEDMED-L to explore the dangers that arise when decontextualised (and cropped) medieval manuscript images circulate freely on the Internet and are used for retrospective (iconographic) diagnosis. Green focused in particular on this now iconic and ubiquitous representation of the Black Death taken from James le Palmer’s Omne bonum (British Library MS Royal 6 E. VI f.301, 1360-1375)....

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