Though medieval physicians lacked knowledge now considered commonplace, they were by no means stupid or incompetent.Because they lacked the ability that we now have to work with the body on a very fine level, medieval physicians' purview consisted as much of natural philosophy as of physical knowledge, which was limited due to strong moral considerations.
In addition to more and less palatable recipes to aid conception, contains some very entertaining passages. [read more] O my companions you should be aware that although certain women do not know the secret cause of what I shall describe, many women are familiar with the effect, . As a consequence of this duality, sex was most often depicted in extreme ways that ignored the well-balanced middle ground inhabited by most medieval people.
In one such, the author claims that a person who consumes sage upon which a cat has ejaculated will have kittens. [read more] Note that if the womb and intestine of a hare are dried and pulverized they become very hot, and similarly a pig's liver is hot in itself . Celibacy or whoredom, chastity or adultery – in literature and art there was often no middle ground, and these oppositional portrayals bled over specifically into depictions of women.
In predominantly Christian Europe, the body was seen as sacred in many ways, and to mutilate a human body through dissection was not only disrespectful, but also sacrilegious.
Therefore, dissections were only rarely performed – perhaps once or twice a year at the larger medical academies – and physicians' knowledge of the human body was limited to gross anatomy.
In general, the body's health was seen through an Aristotelian viewpoint.
Observing that human personalities could be divided into a few similar groupings, and that many illnesses were caused by and/or produced effects more like some personalities than others, classical and medieval authorities reasoned that the body was governed by substances called s, which ran throughout the body in differing quantities, not only causing variations in personality, but also causing varying states of health.
This is where natural philosophy came in; what physicians could not observe, they had to infer.
Some classical texts on medicine had survived into the Middle Ages, and physicians and scholars used these as a starting point for medical knowledge.
Though these methods are often now considered ineffective and even harmful, they made sense in the light of the philosophy of the humors.