Medieval bloodletting has been written about before at the gimcrack, but there’s always more to come…..
“For the physician of the Middle Ages, bleeding became his “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Extant text detail the hazards of ‘withholding blood’ and men, children and the elderly were profusely bled. Menstruating women were often spared the procedure as nature already provided them with a monthly detox. Bleeding haemorrhoids became an ailment to be desired.
Diagnosis was also influenced by astrology. Medical charts informed physicians what not to do for people born under a certain star sign.
Aries: Avoid incisions in the head and face and cut no vein in the head.
Taurus: Avoid incisions in the neck and throat and cut no veins there.
Gemini: Avoid incisions in the shoulders, arms or hands and cut no vein.
Cancer: Avoid incisions in the breasts, sides, stomach and lungs and cut no vein that goes to the spleen.
Leo: Avoid incisions of the nerves, lesions of the sides and bones, and do not cut the back either by opening and bleeding.
Virgo: Avoid opening a wound in the belly and in the internal parts.
Libra: Avoid opening wounds in the umbellicus and parts of the belly and do not open a vein in the back or do cupping.
Scorpio: Avoid cutting the testicles and anus.
Sagittarius: Avoid incisions in the thighs and fingers and do not cut blemishes and growths.
Capricorn: Avoid cutting the knees or the veins and sinews in these places.
Aquarius: Avoid cutting the knees or the veins and veins in these places.
Pisces: Avoid cutting the feet.
We’ve also discussed the popularity of the enema, known as a clyster, especially when administered by a limonadier des posterieur. In fact there was a time when I thought I was writing about them far too often, as you may remember if you ever read this post.
Administering an enema was considered a high art
“The limonadier, as a skilled tactician, was to be gentle and discreet and not take the place by storm, but like a trained sharp-shooter, is prepared for action and fires as soon as he catches sight of the enemy.”
The clyster was a like a daily vitamin pill, facial and high fibre breakfast. Nobility and royalty typically took three or four a day. Through advertisements and word of mouth, clysters acquired the reputation of increasing sexual potency and curing impotence.
Costing more, sexual enemas were known as “restaurants“. After receiving a restaurant, elderly women were said to turn skittish; men of all ages, fiery. They were indulged in regularly by the French cardinal Richelieu. When Richelieu married for the third time at age 85, he announced that if the marriage with his young bride produced no children, it would not be his fault since he still took sexual clysters, as he did until his death at 92.
When Louis Xlll of France was ill, Richelieu supervised the doctoring; within a period of 6 months, the ailing king was subjected to 47 bleedings, 215 oral purgatives and 312 clysters – two enemas every day except holidays