13th Century: Execution and Doctors

The 13th century saw the rise and fall of two kings; King John and King Henry III, the former of which had been forced to sign the Magna Carta a document which all future politics and civil rights were based on. The Scots and Welsh fought against England all three of them trying to concur the others with only England succeeding in annexing Wales in 1277 until 1283 while the Scots remain unmoved against England and Norway winning the Western isles from Norway. In 1272, King Edward I, was going to take the throne, without being on the crusades at the time he wasn’t coroneted until his return in 1974. He reorganised the judicial system and expelled the Jews 1290. This was due to Jews becoming more powerful as they mortgaged lands to penniless people. He originally, in 1275 laid down rules that Jews must live by, including banned from selling land and owning it for more than three years.

Execution was still as gruesome as it had ever been including some of our old favourite burning at the stake, hanging and my personal favourite crushing (because don’t we all have a favourite medieval torture method). However, were some much more horrible ones including quartering where the limbs of a person tied to four separate horse and someone would yell ‘ya!’ Being boiled to death a practice only reversed for prisoners was as gruesome as it sounds and of course hung drawn and quarter, the most gruesome and common practice in Europe at the time was for traitors of the highest order. They would be hung until half dead before being quartered alive and disembowelled.

Medical practice was as good as you could expect from people who believed gold and chicken bottoms were the cures to the plague. Of course they were still well trained (or as well trained as they could be) people floated around called physicians. These people would receive five years of extensive training and would only work for the richest amongst society. Below them were surgeons treating wounds and broken bones. These people required less training and when training each other would usually use a hand on method rather than books. Well below them were barbers, barbers were famed for their one method to cure all. That being ‘cut it off’. Broken leg; cut it off, stomach ache; draining the blood, headache; well there’s only one sure way to cure that! These people barely had any training and were considered some of the lowest in the ranks. However, despite this, some people still could afford any of these medical providers, and that is where churches came in. after the Normandy invasion of England and the crowning of King William, French and England both started to build hostels for travellers and homes for lepers and the mentally ill. People here were treated by monks and would offer only be given a bed and water as a cure but for most this was better than nothing.


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