"for to knowen here sicknesse and to do the lechecraft there fore" : animal ailments and their treatment in late-mediaeval England
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Veterinary medicine in late-mediaeval England has thus far received little attention. This study therefore aims to partly fill this gap by providing an insight into English veterinary practices at this time. The introduction places the animals under discussion into context, from the noble war-horse to the lowly pig. Also discussed are the sources, with their intended audience and evidence for use. The first chapter concentrates on those who were responsible for treating animals when ill, examining the qualities sought in such people, and the source of their learning. In the second chapter the ailments suffered by mediaeval animals are discussed, together with the causes of illness and methods of diagnosis. The third, and final, chapter examines the treatment meted out to animals. Firstly the factors influencing this are explored, followed by surgical intervention, then therapeutic methods of treatment. The precautions taken when treating animals are looked at, as too is the efficacy of the remedies, whilst finally the preparation of medicines, the instruments used, and the materia medica employed are discussed. The aim of this study is not only to provide an insight into the state of veterinary medicine in late-mediaeval England, but also to adopt a broader and more comparative approach than has hitherto been undertaken. It therefore draws upon veterinary texts, hawking and hunting manuals, husbandry treatises, and recipe collections, in order to compare and contrast the ailments and treatment meted out to a variety of animals. Another important facet is to examine the reality of care, which is achieved through an examination of sources such as household and manorial accounts. By marrying the actuality of care with the theory and recommendations of treatises and recipe collections, our understanding of animal welfare is more greatly enhanced.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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