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History

Renaissance methods of diagnosis and treatment

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It was best not to get ill in the Early Modern Age - as treatments were often far worse than any ailment, and could even hasten your death. However, Edward Jenner discovered the principle of vaccination, so there was hope on the horizon.

Summary

man dressed in long coat wearing a beak-shaped mask

17th-century engraving by Paulus Furst, of a physician wearing protective clothing, including a mask, to protect him against the plague

Methods of diagnosis in the Early Modern Age did not change from the time of the Middle Ages.

Doctors were utterly unable to cure infectious disease, and were powerless in face of diseases such as the plague and syphilis.

They did get some new drugs (eg quinine for malaria) from the New World, but generally treatment was a mixture of superstition and errors. Charles II was still asked to touch sick people, as it was said this would cure them of the 'King's Evil' (scrofula).

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