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History of Nursing - Midieval Era

Date post: 19-Jun-2015
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Roman empire, monasticism, feudalism, guilds, medieval hospitals, arabic medicine, crusades, military nursing orders, secular nursing orders, nursing saints
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III MEDIEVAL ERA 500 – 1500 AD (The ‘servant image’ of the nurse)
  • 1.
    • III
  • MEDIEVAL ERA500 1500 AD ( The servant image of the nurse)


  • Began with the fall of the Roman Empire
    • Barbaric tribes invaded Rome
    • Homes and bridges destroyed
    • Romans turned to monasteries for help
  • 3 protective units developed
    • Monasticism
    • Feudalism
    • Guilds


  • For a time everything was in confusion
  • But the nuns and priests were good organizers & administrators
  • Monasteries increased in size
  • St Benedict built a large monastery
  • By Benedictian rule
    • All must work.
    • Follow poverty, chastity & obedience
    • Men and women had equal rights
    • Thus arts & crafts developed
    • Right methods of agriculture
  • Monasteries became the place for education of medicine and nursing.But..
  • Too strict >> Diminished interest in work >> decline of monasteries between 9 thand 10 th centuries


  • Feudalism The Kings owned all the land.He gave portions of it to his favourite subjects>> Barons, Earls, Knights
    • Land = Fief/ Feud (in Europe), Manor (in England)
    • The Barons divided land among many Serfs who worked on the land in return for food, shelter and protection
    • The Serfs also served in the Army.This lead to famine and disease
  • Chivalry An accepted code of living a good life
    • The church developed youth in ideals of solidarity of conduct and ambitions as necessary
    • A system of training given to the knights >> Chivalry
    • Service to God = Service to others, protection and defense of the weak


  • An organization of people not attached to monastic/ feudal groups
    • Stressed on apprenticeship method of learning a skill, high work standards and insurance of selves
    • This followed in medical and nursing teaching
    • This is the fore-runner of labour unions and professional organizations


  • Hotel Dieu of Lyons in France (542 AD)
  • Hotel Dieu of Paris (651 AD)
  • Santo Spurito Hospital in Rome (717 AD)
    • Here, pilgrims, poor, sick and infirm got shelter
    • Under lay management and penitants for 600 years
    • 12 th 16 thcentury Ruled by religious order
    • Nursing done by dedicated women, who took vows, but could not leave or get married.
    • Also nursing brothers.
    • Age Bet 16 24 yrs


  • 570 AD Mohammad
  • Moslem One who submits
  • They learnt from other cultures about medicine
  • Did not allow surgery and dissection So medicine did not progress
  • Introduced catgut
  • Females kept in purdah

8. Nursing had at lastdevelopedroots, purpose, direction and leadership ! 9. LATE MIDDLE AGES(1000 1500 AD)

  • Medicine was under two influences
    • Lay medicine followed after then Roman tradition and
    • Religious medicine as existed in the monasteries
  • The Crusades stimulated the Military nursing orders


  • = Religious war between Moslems and Christians (for almost 200 yrs). A pilgrimage undertaken to Jerusalem to rescue Christs tomb from the Moslems
  • Many died on the way
  • Two great Military Nursing orders came into being to care for the sick and injured
    • Order of Knight hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem
    • Order of Knights of St Lazarus (Care of leprosy
    • patients)


  • Made up by Knight hospitallers, monks and serving brothers
  • & sisters
  • Did excellent work and their fame spread
  • The knights & sisters wore black habits with a white cross
  • By end of 13 thcentury
    • Its efficiency declined
    • Nursing was neglected, politics spoilt its reputation
  • The traditions continue in St John Ambulance Corps, First Aid to the Injured, Societies and Nursing Associations
  • Knights of St Lazarus declined with the decline of Leprosy in Europe
  • Even today, we follow -
    • The military form & organization and discipline followed then
    • Strict discipline and unquestioning obedience
    • Promotion system
    • Ceremony Hospital rounds, standing at attention
    • Self denial for the sake of the sick


  • Mendicant Order
  • Strict rules in monasteries >> Few people attracted to them
  • So mendicants (traveling monks) took religion to the homes
    • St Dominic (1170 1221) From wealthy Spanish family. Preached.>> Dominican Order
    • St Francis of Assissi (1182 1226) Middle class family in Italy.Cared for Leprosy patients. >> Franciscan Order
    • Poor Clares (II Order of St Francis) Order of women under the leadership of Clarissa, a rich young woman.Cared for the sick (especially leprosy).They improved the community and sanitary conditions

St Dominic St Francis of Assissi 13.

  • Secular nursing orders (Tertiary/ Non religious Order)
  • A third order started by St Francis as many men and women came to join his Order
  • They lived in their homes and took no vows.Could leave at any time
  • Other Secular Orders Arose, but did not last long.One the Beguines of Flanders did private hospital and visiting nursing in Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland


  • Nursing SaintsConsidered nursing their religious duty and gave outstanding service
    • St Hildegarde (1098 1179) Wrote books on Medicine (Jaundice, dysentery, lung diseases)
    • St Elizabeth of Hungry (1207 1231) Cared for the poor and sick
    • St Catherine of Sienna (1347 1380) Looked after Plague affected people.Carried a lantern from home to hospital
    • St Isabel (Queen Elizabeth of Portugal) Founded a hospital for the poor and nursed the sick.Introduced the tent type hospitals and ambulances for the injured on the battlefield

St Elizabeth