357 research outputs found

    ‘She sleeps well and eats an egg’: convalescent care in early modern England

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    Early modern diaries and letters are replete with complaints about the state of the body after illness. ‘A long sicknes…has much drained mee…and indeed…my feeble hands…can scarce write’, remarked Rev. Thomas Lowgh from Cumbria in 1654. A few years later, the London gentlewoman Ann Fanshawe recorded in her memoirs, ‘a very ill kind of fever…brought me so low that I was like an anatomy’. Serious physical illness thus left the body weak and lean, full of the ‘footsteps of disease’, to use the early modern term. It was not until full strength and flesh had returned that the patient was pronounced back to health. This chapter asks how doctors and laypeople measured the patient’s growing strength after illness, and analyses the physiological processes through which this restitution was thought to occur. It shows that both the measures, and the mechanisms, for the restoration of strength were intimately connected to the ‘six non-natural things’, excretion, sleep, food, passions, air, and exercise. Patients’ sleeping patterns, appetites for foods, and emotions, along with other inclinations and behaviours that related to the non-naturals, were used to track their progression on ‘the road to health’. Medical practitioners and the patient’s family sought to regulate each non-natural in order to promote the body’s restoration, and guard against possible relapse. I argue that this regulation, together with the assiduous monitoring of the patient’s growing strength, constitute a concept of convalescent care. Convalescence has rarely been addressed in the historiography of early modern medicine, perhaps because scholars have assumed that it was a later, Victorian invention. As this study shows, however, the concept has much older origins, rooted in ancient Hippocratic-Galenic medical traditions

    Chapter 5 ‘Rapt Up with Joy’:

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    This chapter takes advantage of recent insights from the history of emotions to offer a fresh perspective on children’s emotional responses to death. Drawing on a range of printed and archival sources, it argues that children expressed diverse and conflicting emotions, from fear and anxiety, to excitement and ecstasy. In contrast to Houlbrooke and Stannard, I have found that children’s responses seem to have changed little over the early modern period. This continuity is largely due to the endurance of the Christian doctrine of salvation, with its hauntingly divergent fates of heaven and hell

    Chapter 4 'She sleeps well and eats an egg’: convalescent care in early modern England

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    "Very little is known about early modern approaches to convalescence and the author investigates the measures were taken by physicians and laypeople to restore health after illness. Drawing on medical texts, regimens, letters, and diaries, this chapter shows that the treatment of the convalescent differed both from the care of the sick and the healthy. It shows the vital place of the non-naturals in early modern medicine, and the role played by ‘Nature’, understood as the body’s principal agent and governor in physiological processes. The author finds that the 'six non-natural things' were on the one hand used as a way of gauging the extent of recovery, and on the other, were manipulated in a therapeutic role to ensure that both strength and flesh were restored. Thus, any remaining humours which might cause a relapse must be evacuated: good sleep, improved appetite and an ability to exercise were all signs of improvement but each, managed appropriately, also helped to restore strength, whilst negative emotions could endanger recovery and in its place cheerfulness –which was a restorative-must be encouraged.

    Misery to Mirth

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    The history of early modern medicine often makes for depressing reading. It implies that people fell ill, took ineffective remedies, and died. This book seeks to rebalance and brighten our overall picture of early modern health by focusing on the neglected subject of recovery from illness in England, c.1580–1720. Drawing on an array of archival and printed materials, Misery to Mirth shows that recovery did exist conceptually at this time, and that it was a widely reported phenomenon. The book takes three main perspectives: the first is physiological or medical, asking what doctors and laypeople meant by recovery, and how they thought it occurred. This includes a discussion of convalescent care, a special branch of medicine designed to restore strength to the patient’s fragile body after illness. Secondly, the book adopts the viewpoint of patients themselves: it investigates how they reacted to the escape from death, the abatement of pain and suffering, and the return to normal life and work. At the heart of getting better was contrast—from ‘paine to ease, sadnesse to mirth, prison to liberty, and death to life’. The third perspective concerns the patient’s loved ones; it shows that family and friends usually shared the feelings of patients, undergoing a dramatic transformation from anguish to elation. This mirroring of experiences, known as ‘fellow-feeling’, reveals the depth of love between many individuals. Through these discussions, the book opens a window onto some of the most profound, as well as the more prosaic, aspects of early modern existence, from attitudes to life and death, to details of what convalescents ate for supper and wore in bed

    Misery to mirth: recovery from illness in early modern England

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    The history of early modern medicine often makes for depressing reading. It implies that people fell ill, took ineffective remedies, and died. This book seeks to rebalance and brighten our overall picture of early modern health by focusing on the neglected subject of recovery from illness in England, c.1580-1720. Drawing on an array of archival and printed materials, Misery to Mirth shows that recovery did exist conceptually at this time, and that it was a widely reported phenomenon. The book takes three main perspectives: the first is physiological or medical, asking what doctors and laypeople meant by recovery, and how they thought it occurred. This includes a discussion of convalescent care, a special branch of medicine designed to restore strength to the patient’s fragile body after illness. Secondly, the book adopts the viewpoint of patients themselves: it investigates how they reacted to the escape from death, the abatement of pain and suffering, and the return to normal life and work. At the heart of getting better was contrast – from ‘paine to ease, sadnesse to mirth, prison to liberty, and death to life’. The third perspective concerns the patient’s loved ones; it shows that family and friends usually shared the feelings of patients, undergoing a dramatic transformation from anguish to elation. This mirroring of experiences, known as ‘fellow-feeling’, reveals the depth of love between many individuals. Through these discussions, the book opens a window on some of the most profound, as well as the more prosaic, aspects of early modern existence, from attitudes to life and death, to details of what convalescents ate for supper and wore in bed

    ‘Rapt up with joy’: children’s emotional responses to death in early modern England

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    The chapter is an investigation of the child’s emotional response to death in early modern England. While much valuable scholarship has been produced on parents’ responses to the deaths of children, the reactions of the young themselves have rarely been explored. Drawing on a range of printed and archival sources, I argue that children expressed diverse and conflicting emotions, from fear and anxiety, to excitement and ecstasy. By exploring the emotional experiences of Protestants, the chapter contributes to the bourgeoning literature on emotion and religion, and contests earlier depictions of reformed Protestantism as an inherently intellectual, rather than an affective, faith. This study also suggests that we revise the way we classify the emotions, resisting the intuitive urge to categorise them as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. The fear of hell, for example, though profoundly unpleasant, was regarded as a rational, commendable response, which demonstrated the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, and was a prerequisite for the attainment of a joyful assurance of heaven. An underlying question is to what extent children’s responses to death differed from those of adults. I propose that although their reactions were broadly similar, the precise preoccupations of dying children were different. Through highlighting these distinctive features, we can come to a closer idea of what it was like to be a child in the early modern period
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