Medicine & Disease

Miniature of smallpox from the Toggenburg Bible

Ole J. Benedictow describes how he calculated that the Black Death killed 50 million people in the 14th century, or 60 per cent of Europe’s entire population.

Johann Weyer, History of Magic, woodcut 1577.

Johann Weyer used his compassion and a pioneering approach to mental illness to oppose the witch-craze of early modern Europe.

Rubber boots at a Médecins Sans Frontières medical centre, Monrovia, October 18th, 2014. Zoom Dosso / Stringer / Getty Images

Few things instil as much terror as a deadly contagion with no known cure.

14th-century  English engraving on the Black Death.

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues its dreadful march, Duncan McLean looks at the 600-year-old practice of isolating individuals and communities in order to bring an end to epidemics and assesses the effectiveness of such measures.

While most people have heard of the Black Death, medieval Europe was also afflicted by a less deadly but more perplexing epidemic: the sweating sickness.

‘Man has made himself what he is today.’ Joe Rogaly writes how important biological changes have recently transformed his whole existence.

John Henderson challenges received ideas on how medieval and early modern societies dealt with perils such as plague.

The notorious malady of the 18th century is on the increase in the UK.

St Bartholomew’s was refounded in the reign of Henry VIII. Courtney Dainton describes how, for nearly two centuries, it was one of only two major hospitals in England for the care of the general sick.

Louis C. Kleber describes how, for the American Indians, ‘medicine’ was a spiritual belief as well as a curative.