Medieval Medicine and the Roman Empire

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By Unknown —, CC0,

Confusing Time

Transitioning from the Roman Empire and into the Renaissance, medicine met a confusing time in which it tried to reestablish itself and work with the powers that be of that time. The Christian Church was becoming a powerhouse that found itself in a struggle with the practice of medicine. Medicine, during the Middle Ages, was a mixture of science, superstition, and spirituality that was both feared and encouraged by the Christian Church.


Young Science


Advancements were made as the Empire grew. When the time came for the great Western Roman Empire to fall, many of the Roman medicinal practices and teachings were lost to the Western Roman Empire. Much of the Roman and Greek teachings, including medicine, were preserved and expanded on in the Eastern Byzantine Empire which was the last vesture of the Ancient Roman Empire instead of Europe where Rome once ruled. Ironically, it would be the Arabs that would give Europe its foundation for medicine.

Greek Knowledge

The Crusades opened the door to the transference of knowledge from the East (Arabs) to the West (Christians). A whole new world was opened up to Europe with advances in education and science that the world had not seen since the minds of Athens dared to question what they saw. The Arabs took the Greek knowledge and began to test what they read and experiment. They documented their own results and added them to the Greek scientific knowledge.

Use of Arab Advancements

Authoritative Texts

This was a major contributor in hindering the growth of European medicine. It kept medicine restricted to single texts instead of being treated as a deep and wide art that could be explored. Europe had copies of ancient manuscripts, but putting all of that teaching to practice was something different. Methods and material were not always easily obtained by medieval society. Those that could read the ancient texts and/or their translations were attempting to mirror a culture that did not exist and that could not successfully be emulated. Staying in the past helped create a world that was interested yet suspicious of medicine. Looking to advance medicine meant venturing into a realm that was untested by history and therefore dangerous to all, especially the Church.


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Writer for ten years, lover of education, and degrees in business, history, and English. Striving to become a Renassiance woman.

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