The Middle Ages
- Scotland developed fairly successful ways of dealing with 2 non-epidemic diseases – leprosy and
- During James IV’s peaceful reign the study of medicine in Scotland was favoured and the growth
of a separate secular profession was encouraged
- Medical practice outside monasteries developed
- Scotland began to grow in size.
- These new towns were dangerous since they began to harbour rats and fleas which spread the
plague. Other health problems resulted from the increasingly insanitary conditions
- War or famine produced local or national social crisis.
- External wars against the English and Norwegians caused victorious army to pillage, loot and
sack the vanquished leader’s land. This often lead to famine and disease
- Rise of small towns and better transport resulted in spread of epidemic disease
- The black death enetered Britain in august 1348 at Weymouth in Dorset. By autumn, it reached
London and one year later, it entered Scotland
- First there was a delay at the border. Scots considered it to have a special affliction by god on
the English army then at the border
- Eventually entry into Scotland can be blamed on Scots army for making a foolhardy attack on
English. On withdrawing back into Scotland, they brought the plague with them.
- Poor were more affected by the epidemic than rich
- Rapid fatal course, death between the 4 , 7 , day makes it recognizable in contemporary
- The plague also took a pause during winter because the rats were less active and shipping and
internal trade was reduced
- Epidemics returned again in 1362 (the second pest) and 1380 or 1392 (the third pest) but none
of these were as bad as the first
- They spread more widely in the country, because of better communications
- There were no early measurements taken to prevent the plague. Quarantine was not introduced
- No laws made in 14 century Scotland against these epidemics in spite of sensible legislation in
force dealing with leprosy
- The mechanism of the spread of the disease was slowly obtained.
- The plague was regarded as a divine punishment rather than a disease.
- Later epidemics of plague rose suspicious on goods and baggage, clothes in particular
- Main reaction to the plague was to move out of town
- First quarantine measure was taking by Venice in 1403 - In Scotland, national measures were first taken in 1452. It allowed for the burning down of any
house affected by the plague.
- First national quarantine regulations came in 1456.
- In the next 150 years, stronger and stronger measures were recorded but their effect was
- If plague reached town, all trade in and out of town was forbidden, guards were posted to keep
people from going in and out.
- Inside town, regulations were broadcasted by officials accompanied by drummers and were
read out in churches
- Cargo coming in from the east coast ports were particularly at risk. Vessels and cargo were put
into quarantine. Cargos were opened to the wind or washed in sea water and the vessel
grounded at low tide, the sea cocks opened and the ship flooded by tides
- Severe sentences were introduced for breaking the regulations or not reporting cases of plague.
Men would be hung, and women would be drowned.
- Branding on the face or cutting off a hand and banishing from the town could be enforced
- From 1529, the towns started to segregate the plague victims outside the town and maintain
them there at the towns expense.
- Scotland, escaped the last, sever epidemic of plague in England in 1665
- Leprosy appears in the earliest records of Scotland.
- Best known person thought to be infected was Robert the Bruce and hsi skull shows evidence of
- The cause of disease was unknown in medieval times and often explained as punishment for a
- The disease probably reached Britain with the crusaders returning from the east
- Legislation anent lepers was common. It compelled isolation of cases and the diagnosis were
made by town officials not medical men.
- They could not earn their living so laws were made to feed them
- Dead or wounded beasts found in the forest were sent to lepers and any unsaleable meat and
fish were given to them too
- The restrictions on the life of the medieval leper and orders for a tax for their upkeep are seen in
the Act of Parliament of 12 century Scotland
- This was the first record of a local levy to aid the sick
- Act hints