Revolting Remedies from the Middle Ages

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SKU: BK2973

For a zitty face.

Take urine eight days old and heat it over the fire; wash your face with it morning and night.

In late medieval England, ordinary people, apothecaries and physicians gathered up practical medical tips for everyday use. While some were sensible herbal cures, many were weird and wonderful. This book selects some of the most revolting or remarkable remedies from medieval manuscripts in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

There are embarrassing ailments and painful procedures, icky ingredients and bizarre beliefs. The would-be doctors seem oblivious to pain, and any animal, vegetable or mineral, let alone bodily fluid, can be ground up, smeared on or inserted for medical benefit. Similar ingredients are used in ‘recipes’ for how to make yourself invisible, how to make a woman love you, how to stop dogs from barking at you and how to make freckles disappear.

Written in the down-to-earth speech of the time, these remedies often blur the distinction between medicine and magic. They also give a humorous insight into the strange ideas, ingenuity and bravery of men and women in the Middle Ages, and a glimpse of the often gruesome history of medicine through time.

The remedies have been collected and transcribed from fifteenth-century manuscripts by students at the University of Oxford. Modern English translations, for easier reading, are given alongside the original Middle English.

Daniel Wakelin is Jeremy Griffiths Professor of Medieval English Palaeography in the Faculty of English, University of Oxford.

  • Hardback
  • 112 pages, 170 x 110 mm
  • ISBN: 9781851244768
  • Publication November 2017

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