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Method in the Madness


According to the humoral model of the body, illness resulted from an imbalance of the four humours, or their corruption. Climate, emotional upset, diet, a lack of exercise or the movement of the stars and planets could impact the balance or state of the humours. Different symptoms and illnesses depended upon the balance or condition of the humours. Knowledge of the patient’s individual humoral makeup before illness was essential before a course of treatment could be decided upon.


Here begynneth a good booke of medecines called the treasure of poore men

London, 1560

This book provides a number of cures for illnesses of different parts of the body. Books like this allowed for the dissemination of medical knowledge beyond the medical profession. Physicians, surgeons and apothecaries were expensive so lay medical practice was common. Information could be found in medical texts but was also commonly spread by word of mouth since not everybody could read.