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Any history buffs AND Brother Cadfael aficionados about? With a bit of medical knowledge - or not, I've lots of questions about the period.

(14 Posts)
Jacksmania Wed 13-Feb-13 01:17:25

I've been listening to my favourite Brother Cadfael audiobooks again, and somehow my mind strayed to that fabulous thread in Classics, "Ways of Dying in 1665"...

So I started wondering if there are any history buffs around who know a bit about medieval medicine, and who know the Brother Cadfael novels...

Slim chance, I know.

But I was wondering, in "The Potter's Field" and "The Holdy Thief", what exactly is the disease Donata Blount suffers from? It's described as "a disease that pared the flesh off her bones, turning her into a bundle of sticks, with greyish skin" but sparing her beautiful eyes. I've a medical background and what comes to mind is dermatomyositis, for some reason. Can't think of anything else.

And another question, about Soulien Blount. His elder brother Eudo inherits the Longner estate, and in "The Holy Thief", Soulien has taken up training in arms and is shortly to marry. Where will he and Pernel live? Obviously she'll leave her father's manor when she marries him, but if Soulien is going into service at the castle, would he and Pernel live at the castle? Or where?

Oh, I hope someone knows the answers to this - I have so many other questions about the period, I'd really love to be able to ask someone.

Jacksmania Wed 13-Feb-13 01:18:23

"The Holdy Thief" should obviously be "The HOLY Thief" blush

MaterFacit Wed 13-Feb-13 10:18:45

Its been a while since I read it but I think I assumed it was tuberculosis due to the translucent skin and wasting away. Could also have been something like cancer, diabetes, a deficiency like anaemia, something gastrointestinal like Crohns or a lot of different diseases as the epidemiology of many diseases has changed over time.

I'm afraid I don't know a huge amount about the medieval period though, I'm just fascinated by medicine through time.

Jacksmania Sat 16-Feb-13 01:22:05

Don't know why I never thought of cancer. Only that I got the impression she had the illness over several years and was completely mentally "there" all along, only wasting away. I would have thought untreated cancer would be terminal more quickly.

MaterFacit Sat 16-Feb-13 01:55:54

I guess it could have been slowgrowing? Or a benign cancer that slowly affected the function of an organ/gland?

Jacksmania Sat 16-Feb-13 03:29:36

I suppose.
I do love a good medical mystery smile

Fiderer Sat 16-Feb-13 05:16:48

I assumed it was cancer too.

Thank you for the thread as I am re-reading the Falco books, on the second to last and already wondering what to re-read next. Cadfael it is. First thing I did in the garden when I bought this house was make a herb garden, am sure that was Cadfael's influence smile

CheerfulYank Sat 16-Feb-13 05:38:17

Oooh, Jacks, DH has just started watching Cadfael. Is it good? Should I watch/read as well?

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 16-Feb-13 06:04:27

Derek Jacobi made an excellent Cadfael, and the period details were well done too.
DS and I are fans.

Jacksmania Sat 16-Feb-13 07:53:13

CY, yes yes yes!! The books are much better than the filmed version. I like Sir DJ but I didn't like all the shows.

So, where would Soulie and Pernel have lived?

I'd love to have a thread like "Ways of Dying in 1665". Maybe "Ways of Being Ill in the 12th Century - what they thought it was and what it actually was".

CMOTDibbler Sat 16-Feb-13 08:00:46

They would have either lived in the castle, or in a dwelling on the estate - but most likely in the castle.

I'd go for non pulmonary TB - the intestinal version especially certainly just strips the body of energy and people really did waste away

Fiderer Sat 16-Feb-13 08:54:57

I love being fascinated by "mediaeval which disease?" and anything anywhere near this century would have me shrugging "Heh? Who cares?" grin

Was so excited to see Cadfael on TV but DJ wasn't Cadfael for me. Philip Madoc in the Bert Coules' radio adaptations was wonderful - are those the audiobooks you have, Jacks?

Flisspaps Sat 16-Feb-13 09:45:53

Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) was my nan's cousin (or somesuch relation)

Jacksmania Sat 16-Feb-13 15:58:00

Ohhhh Fliss, how interesting!

Fiderer, no, the audiobooks I have are narrated by either Steohen Thorne or Patrick Tull. I much prefer Patrick Tull. Another of my favourite readers is George Guidell. Could listen to either one all day long.

CMOT <snogs>
If any kind of TB, wouldn't the rest of the family have caught it, too? IIRC, it's pretty contagious.

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