Leprosy

  • Medieval Era
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

Leprosy is a debilitating and disfiguring disease. The bacterium that causes it was only discovered in the 19th Century. Although well-known since biblical days, it became a part of “daily life” in The Middle Ages. Looked upon as “uncleanliness and punishment for sin”, Leprosy was not understood in The Medieval Era. Some theorized that “rich foods” were to blame. Still others “unclean food” (another biblical reference for specific animals that were NOT supposed to be consumed). It was widely held in the 13th Century that “spicy foods” were the root of the problems (and all forms of spices were to be shunned). However, once contracted, a victim was completely shut off from Society at large – forever. Depending on where the Leper lived, they were not allowed to drink from Public Wells or other known water sources. They could not go to Markets, enter Church or (heaven forbid) – touch other people. Lepers in many Communities were required to wear distinctive clothing (robes and hoods) of a certain color to identify them (even at far off). If they were traveling through (or near a different Community other than their own), they were obliged to carry with them and ring a bell (to warn others of their nearness). In 1067, the first “known” hospice for Lepers was opened (founded by Spanish hero Rodrigio Diaz, aka El Cid). As time progress, more humane treatment (and living arrangements) were created. Food, water and clothing were provided (donated). Some more daring Priests and Nuns even volunteered to care for them “spiritually” often at the risk of contracting the disease themselves. By the 14th Century, the number of known and documented Leprosy cases began to decline. It had been speculated that with the rise of The Plague (or Black Death), many Lepers died out faster than a more “healthier” person did.