Medicine through time

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What were your chances of a long life if you were born in 1350?

Life in the Middle Ages was not easy.

The majority of people worked on the land. It was physically demanding work that wasn't guaranteed to result in enough fod being available for a family to live on: Famine was a major killer in Medieval Europe. Disease was still a major threat. Whilst the Black Death had already ravaged Europe there was always a threat of an infection taking hold and wiping out communities. In towns the conditions remained poor. There was often no provision of sewers, limited rules about health and hygeine and many jobs in medieval industries were dirty and dangerous. Again, access to food would be an occasional problem. And if you manage to survive all of these hazards into your adolescence? Theres always the chance of being required to fight in one of the many wars that took place at this time!

All of the above supposes that you survive childbirth itself. Many did not. In the middle ages it is estimated that around 30% of new born babies died during or shortly after birth. Some historians argue that the figure may be as high as 50%.

Life expectancy in this period was approximately 30.

The population of Europe is estimated to have fallen by up to 40% between 1350 and 1420, though there are many possible reasons for this.

See The Medieval Child for a detailed overview of issues a child would face if born in 1350.





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