Disease and the Supernatural


Disease and the Supernatural 1000-1500

Medicine Stands Still

Disease was thought to have supernatural causes

  • Most people believed that disease was a punishment from God.
  • They thought disease existed to show people the error of their ways, and it would teach them to become better people.
  • No-one looked for cures, because they thought the only cure was prayer and repentance.
  • Disease was also thoght to be caused by witches and evil supernatural beings, this meant many people were tried and executed.
  • Many people also performed exorcisms, because evil spirits were living inside someone. This caused disease so they used chants to remove the spirit from the person's body.
  • The key problem was the lack of understanding of the causes of disease - without knowing what the causes are, you can't possibly find cures.
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Disease and the Supernatural 1000-1500

Medicine Stands Still

The Church had a big influence on medieval medicine

  • The Roman Catholic Chuch was extremely powerful in Medieval Europe.
  • It controlled the way people thought and studied medicine.
  • They encouraged people to believe that disease was a punishment from God, which prevented people from trying to find cures.
  • They made sure that scholars learned the works of Galen.
  • Galen's ideas fit Christian's beliefs.
  • It stopped anyone from disagreeing with Galen.
  • The Church outlawed dissection, so doctors couldn't discover ideas about human anatomy for themselves - they had to believe Galen's incorrect ideas.
  • The Church's influence over medieval medicine meant there was very little change about the cause of disease. People had to accept it, because the Church was so influential people were unable to question them.
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