Fearing the Beast: Animal Attacks and Medical Practice in the Middle Ages

Fearing the Beast: Animal Attacks and Medical Practice in the Middle Ages

This event has finished Took place on: Thursday, 18th Apr 2019

Animals and humans lived in close proximity in the medieval period. Both the reality of animal bites and the fear of the event loomed large in the medieval imagination. This talk will examine this subject from the writings of medical authors and practitioners, in order to understand what animals were especially feared and what actions could be taken to either prevent an attack or the best remedial measures afterwards, from eating walnuts when going through a snake-infested area to applying ointments on cat bites.

Feared animals present in the literature ranged from the imaginary (but considered very real such as basilisks), the distant (crocodiles), the unlikely (wolves and bears), and the mundane (including assorted household pets).

One of the focuses will be on the bites of rabid domestic dogs, and strange symptoms medieval writers believed would be suffered by the patient. Exasperated by their fear of the dreaded animal that had bitten them, the victim or their physician might attest to visions of dogs, the inability to look in a mirror, or even the creation of little dog forms in one’s body!

Dr Walker-Meikle’s research interests focus on the relationship between animals and humans, particularly in medicine and natural history. She was awarded her PhD from University College London, and has published Medieval Pets (Boydell & Brewer, 2012), along with popular books on animal history (Medieval Cats, Medieval Dogs, The Dog Book: Dogs of Historical Distinction, The Cat Book: Cats of Historical Distinction, The Horse Book: Horses of Historical Distinction). Recent research has focused on animal bites and toxicology in the medieval period, with published articles and more publications forthcoming. Other fields of interest include medieval pharmacology, natural magic and palaeography. She is currently a research fellow on the Renaissance Skin project at King’s College London, working on animal and skin diseases.

Cost: £12

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2019-04-18 2019-04-18 Europe/London Fearing the Beast: Animal Attacks and Medical Practice in the Middle Ages Join Dr. Kathleen Walker-Meikle for this talk on fear, animals and medieval practice in the Middle Ages. https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2019/04/18/fearing-the-beast-animal-attacks-and-medical-practice-in-the-middle-ages-198170 The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret,9a Saint Thomas Street,London,

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