Anglo-Saxon Medicine

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Overview

This is the first book to make a comprehensive study of Old English medical texts. Professor Cameron compares Anglo-Saxon medical practice with that of the Greeks and Romans from whom the Anglo-Saxons borrowed freely. He analyses the position of physicians in society, the conditions under which their patients lived and the effectiveness of their remedies. He examines the ingredients of Anglo-Saxon prescriptions, their therapeutic efficacy and availability. The role of magic in medicine is dealt with in depth, but found to have played less part in medical practice than has sometimes been thought. Special attention is given to surgery, bloodletting, gynaecology and obstetrics. Professor Cameron concludes that Anglo-Saxon medicine, on the evidence of surviving texts, was as good as any previously practised in Western Europe. The author has written with the needs of medical historians and non-specialist readers as well as Anglo-Saxonists in mind. The numerous quotations from the surviving texts are given in English as well as in the original languages.

This book contains no illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Swailem S. Hennein
This book is an open-ended comparative study of medieval medical Anglo-Saxon documents that aims to present a judicial assessment of indigenous conditions having to do with issues of availability, organization, diagnosis, specializations, medications, and efficacy and how these relate to Greek/Roman medical theories and structures. A sizable part of the volume deals with sources of information, both in Old English (the Anglo-Saxon vernacular) and Latin, including ""the earliest notices ofmedical practice."""" The main finding of this effort is that, although admitting that Anglo-Saxon medicine borrowed from Galen and Hippocrates and from various parts of the Mediterranean basin, it had its own original features and contributions that were substantially rational, empirical, and deductive, and not merely magical. This monograph addresses primarily students of medical history. Information presented on the health conditions prevailing in Anglo-Saxon lands during the medieval period corresponds well with what we know about the Continent, providing a backdrop against which medical practice is ably reviewed. The author does point to misconceptions that have been circulated about that era and provides evidence of fundamental, though incomplete and perhaps unscientific, understanding of physiology, nutrition, course of diseases, kinds of prognoses, and humane treatment protocols that existed. This book does not, in any sense, assume to be the final word on the subject, and the scientific investigator is invited to start with the documents featured by the author to move further with the search. This is an honest piece of scholarly production that addresses a gap in the history of medicine.
From The Critics
Reviewer: Swailem S. Hennein, Ph.D.(University of Illinois at Chicago)
Description: This book is an open-ended comparative study of medieval medical Anglo-Saxon documents that aims to present a judicial assessment of indigenous conditions having to do with issues of availability, organization, diagnosis, specializations, medications, and efficacy and how these relate to Greek/Roman medical theories and structures. A sizable part of the volume deals with sources of information, both in Old English (the Anglo-Saxon vernacular) and Latin, including "the earliest notices ofmedical practice."
Purpose: The main finding of this effort is that, although admitting that Anglo-Saxon medicine borrowed from Galen and Hippocrates and from various parts of the Mediterranean basin, it had its own original features and contributions that were substantially rational, empirical, and deductive, and not merely magical.
Audience: This monograph addresses primarily students of medical history.
Features: Information presented on the health conditions prevailing in Anglo-Saxon lands during the medieval period corresponds well with what we know about the Continent, providing a backdrop against which medical practice is ably reviewed. The author does point to misconceptions that have been circulated about that era and provides evidence of fundamental, though incomplete and perhaps unscientific, understanding of physiology, nutrition, course of diseases, kinds of prognoses, and humane treatment protocols that existed.
Assessment: This book does not, in any sense, assume to be the final word on the subject, and the scientific investigator is invited to start with the documents featured by the author to move further with the search. This is an honest piece of scholarly production that addresses a gap in the history of medicine.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521031226
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England Series , #7
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,485,343
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; 1. Introduction; 2. Conditions for health and disease; 3. Physician and patient; 4. The earliest notices of Anglo-Saxon medical practice; 5. Medical texts of the Anglo-Saxons; 6. Compilations in Old English; 7. Compilations in Latin; 8. Latin works translated into Old English: Herbarium and Peri Didaxeon; 9. Sources for Old English texts; 10. Making a Leechbook; 11. Materia medica; 12. Rational medicine; 13. Magical medicine; 14. The humours and bloodletting; 15. Surgery; 16. Gynaecology and obstetrics; 17. Conclusions; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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