Thursday 31 January 2013

Medicine and cures

The previous post, Disease and Health in Medieval Times covered the most common afflictions to medieval man. The “Black Death” of the 1340’s did periodically return throughout the next three centuries. In addition, due to poor health and sanitation, any assembly of an army would be visited by Dysentery. For the campaign organizer, losses resulting from health issues could be as devastating as combat. How did medieval man cure himself is the topic of this post.

Mercantilism or the rise of commerce, brought not only wealth to the cities, but also disease. A physicians with a modicum of knowledge would stay in the cities where they received substantial wages and privileges. Catering predominately to the wealthy formal medicine was practiced and governed by the church; illness was divine retribution.

Knowledge of medicine from ancient text remained for the most part in the hands of the church with each monastery having an infirmary. Cultivating their own herbal remedies to treat some monasteries functioned as hospitals for the old, the disabled and traveling pilgrims.

Knowledge of herbal remedies lay not only with the church but also with women who performed practical medicine for their village. Some methods often combined Pagan cures or invoked spells. Naturally, these practices were frowned upon by the church, but calling upon the Christian God saints would remedy that.

Where the two practices collided meant religious persecution as being in league with the devil which meant execution.  

From a compendium of medieval diseases, these were the most common for our period:

Dysentery (the “bloody flux”)
An infection caused either by bacteria or amoebas, spread through contamination of food and water by infected fecal matter.

Symptoms: (Bacillary) After 1-6 days incubation, watery stools, fever, cramps, dehydration. In advanced stages, bloody stools, meningitis, conjunctivitis, and arthritis. (Amebic) Acute form: watery, bloody stools, cramps, fever, weakness. Chronic form: intermittent diarrhea, mild abdominal discomfort.

Result: Generally weakened condition.

Note: Endemic in medieval armies and pretty common in cities. Infantile diarrhea was a leading cause of death for infants. After the Black Death, many urban areas instituted public health reforms to improve sanitation and prevent these enteric fevers.

Ergotism (“St. Anthony's fire,” “holy fire,” “evil fire,” “devil's fire,” “saints' fire”)
Poisoning from a fungal infection of grain, especially rye.

Symptoms: (Convulsive) Degeneration of the nervous system causes anxiety, vertigo, aural/visual hallucinations, and the sensation of being bitten or burned; stupor, convulsions, and psychosis. (Gangrenous) Constriction of the blood vessels causes reddening and blistering of skin, then blackening, with itching and burning, and finally necrosis.

Result: 40% mortality. Lingering symptoms, including mental impairment, among survivors.

Note: Ergotism was known as a rural disease, particularly of marshy areas, and one that followed crop damage or famine; especially after a severe winter and a rainy spring. Children are more susceptible because of their smaller body weight. Because England did not rely on rye as much as populations on the continent, it suffered fewer cases of the convulsive type.

An acute, extremely contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, spread by inhalation.

Symptoms: After 1-2 days, a sudden onset of chills and fever, headache, backache, muscular aches, and general malaise; weakness, prostration, nausea, eye pain, mental confusion. After 1-5 days the respiratory symptoms become more prominent: dry or sore throat, cough, runny nose. Serious complications include bronchitis and bacterial pneumonia.

Results: A few months, maximum, of resistance to repeated infection.

Note: Flu was not a major worry in the 14th century but became a scourge in the 15th. Because flu is very contagious it often forms epidemics, generally occurring in the winter or early spring.

Campaign use:

As you may have noted, the onset of dysentery is nearly a given while encamped for periods longer than a week. This would affect both sides, as the besiegers had no proper sanitation and the besieged having to cope with the extra population gathered behind its walls. Naturally, a good army would have an abundance of clergy to help heal the body and soul.

Repeated crop failure would bring on conditions of famine, but also be a source for additional disease for the stricken fields. Certainly ruinous for the local noble and whose adversaries would see this a divine intervention.

A severe winter would increase the chances of influenza. Keep in mind when designing event tables, many situations were a natural flow of “cause and effect”. So a brilliant harvest and well stocked for the winter period, a region would have less problem with influenza.

Further reading:

Monday 28 January 2013

15th Century Timeline: 1451 to 1499

1452 In Europe, metal plates are being used in screw-type presses.

1453 Constantinople has been declining economically, in population and military strength. Using European artillery and experts, the Ottoman Turks break through Constantinople's walls. Disciplined Muslim forces capture the city. This ends Constantinople as the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the heart of the remains of the Roman Empire.        

1453 The French capture Bordeaux, the last place the English hold except for the port city of Calais, on the English channel. The Hundred Years' War ends without a formal treaty signed and no renouncing of rights to the French throne by an English king. Nationalism had increased, and common people in England are upset at what they see as England having lost the war. With the end of the Hundred Years' War, trade revives and economic depression ends.

1453 Forty-one Jews are burned at the stake in Breslau, Poland.

1455 In the German town of Mainz, Johann Gutenberg, using metal type in a screw-type printing press, prints the "Gutenberg" Bible.

1456 Judges and commissioners in the archbishop's palace in the city of Rouen declare that Joan of Arc was innocent of the charges that led to her execution – after nineteen years of appeal and almost one year of hearings. The Archbishop declares the case ended.

1456 The Ottoman Turks overrun Athens, begin a stay that will last 400 years, and they turn the Parthenon into a mosque

1459 The Ottoman Turks have taken control of all Serbia

1461 Two families, both descended from King Edward III (who reigned from 1327 to 1377 and was of the Plantagenet dynasty) have been at war for years. One family is the House of York the other the House of Lancaster. This is the War of the Roses. Edward, from the House of York, defeats the Lancastrians at Mortimor's Cross. He is proclaimed king and ascends the throne as Edward IV.

1461 King Loius XI of France creates a postal service.

1463 The Ottoman Turks expand into Bosnia. They execute Bosnia's king, Stefan Tomasevic – the last of the Kotromanic dynasty. Assassination, as a means of resistance to foreign rule, is viewed by the Serbs of Bosnia as a heroic act

1466 An Albanian, George Kastrioti, also known as Skanderbeg, has led another successful resistance against an Ottoman invasion, and he is a hero across Christendom.

1467 In Japan a dispute over succession of the Ashikaga shogunate begins the Onin War, which exacerbates the strife between regional warlords (daimyo).

1468 Skanderbeg has been ill and dies in bed, and the Ottomans absorb Albania.

1468 In Egypt, al-Ashraf Qaytbay becomes the Mamluk sultan. He buys 46,000 more slaves from the his area of origin -- the Caucusus. These slaves are normally from ages ten to 20, shipped through the Turkish straits. It is a trade in the hands of the Genoese.

1469 Ferdinand of Aragon marries Isabella of Castile.

1477 France's Louis XI gains control of Burgundy.

1478 A conspiracy, that includes the Archbishop of Pisa and has the support of Pope Sixtus IV, leads to an attack on the Medici while they are in church. The Archbishop and several others are hanged. Pope Sixtus puts Florence under the interdict and excommunicates the Medici leader of Florence, Lorenzo de Medici. The pope forms a military alliance with the King of Naples, and Lorenzo's diplomacy prevents an attack.

1479 After four years of war, Spain accepts monopoly trade for Portugal along Africa's Atlantic coast and Portugal acknowledges Spain's rights in the Canary Islands.

1479 The Ottoman Turks and Venice have been at war since 1463. Venice is defeated militarily and gives up that part of its empire, along the Adriatic Sea, that the Ottoman Turks occupy.

1480 Leonardo da Vinci of Florence, age 28, of invents the parachute.

1480 Moscow's Ivan III feels strong enough to refuse to pay tribute to the Mongols
1481 Louis XI of France gains the territories of Anjou, Bar Mine and Provence.

1480 Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain employ the Spanish Inquisition to investigate whether converted Jews are secretly clinging to Judaism.

1481 Two Latvian monarchs are executed for murdering the Polish king, Kazimierz IV.

1482 Portuguese have founded new trading settlements on Africa's "Gold Coast." They are trading ironware, firearms, textiles and food for gold, ivory, food and slaves.

1482 The Ottoman Turks occupy Herzegovina and join it administratively with Bosnia. Its nobles and a large percentage of its peasants are to accept Islam.

1483 Edward IV of England has died. His son succeeds him as Edward V, and he is murdered. The Duke of Gloucester, the youngest brother of Edward IV, usurps the throne and is crowned Richard III.

1483 Pope Innocent VIII issues a statement deploring the spread of witchcraft and heresy in Germany. He orders that cats belonging to convicted witches be burned as well as the witches.

1485 Henry Tudor, a relative of the Lancaster family, defeats Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The Tudor family takes power and is crowned Henry VII.

1485 Henry VII marries Elizabeth of York, uniting the Lancaster and York families. The War of Roses is over.

1491 King Charles VIII of France invades Brittany and forces 14-year-old Ann of Brittany to marry him, adding Brittany to French territory.

1492 Spain's monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, do their part in a war against Islam – they annex Granada. Also they give Jews three months to convert to Christianity if they are to avoid banishment from the country. And the voyage that the monarchy is paying for, led by Christopher Columbus, sets sail for China by going westward.

1493 Christopher Columbus returns from the Caribbean, and later in the year he sails back to the Caribbean.
1494 Kings were doing what kings had been doing for ages: pursuing wealth, territorial expansion and control over people. This year Christopher Columbus – an agent for Ferdinand and Isabella – begins using people of the Caribbean as slaves.

1494 Piero de Medici has ruled since the death of his father, Lorenzo, in 1492. He makes peace with the French, who have invaded Tuscany (in which Florence is located). A political rising drives him into exile. Florence is in anarchy. A Dominican priest, Savonarola, is anti-Renaissance. He is opposed to popular music, art and other worldliness.

1496 Jews are expelled from Syria.

1496 Sultan Qaytbay dies at the age of 53 followed by grand amirs competing to succeed him.

1497 Boys working under Savonarola collect from homes things associated with moral laxity: mirrors, cosmetics, pictures, books, fine dresses, the works of immoral poets. Savonarola has these burned. Renaissance art work is lost. Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Savonarola.

1497 In Scotland, children are required by law to go to school

1498 Savonarola is hanged. An enraged crowd burns Savonarola at the same spot where he ordered his bonfire.

1498 Columbus sails from Spain with six ships on his third voyage to the Americas.

1498 Jews are expelled from Nuremberg and Bavaria.

1498 The Ottoman Turks invade Dalmatia and devastate land around Zara. Venice goes to war again against the Ottoman Turks.

Compilations from various web sources including Wikipedia.

Saturday 26 January 2013

15th Century Timeline: 1401 to 1450

15th Century Timeline: 1401 to 1450

1406 The geography of Ptolemy, an ancient Greek, is introduced in Europe. This holds that the earth is the center of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolve around it in perfect circles.

1407 London has a new institution – a place for the insane called Bethlehem hospital

1409 Prelates meet at Pisa to name a pope to replace the two claiming to be pope. The two existing popes refuse to step aside.

1410 A Germanic force, the Teutonic Knights, are trying to gain control of Poland. The knights are allied with the kings of Bohemia and Hungary. Their army has volunteer "crusaders" and numbers around 27,000. An army of 39,000 fighting for the Polish king, Wladyslaw Jagiello, includes Lithuanians, Ruthenians and Tatars in addition to Poles, and they defeat the Germans. The Teutonic Knights decline in power and Eastern Europe does not become a German colony.

1413 In England, followers of John Wyclif, dead since 1384, hold that the Bible is the only rule of faith. They appeal to the Catholic clergy to return to the simple life of the early Church. They oppose war, the doctrine of transubstantiation, confession, and images in worship. They march on London, and Henry V, fearing social disorder, suppresses the movement.

1415 John Hus, a Czech and former dean of philosophy at the University of Prague, travels to the Council of Constance to propose his reforms for the Church. Upon his arrival he is tried for heresy and burned at the stake.

1415 Prince Henry of Portugal, with a fleet of 200 ships and 20,000 men, captures the port of Ceuta from the Moors.

1416 Dutch fishermen are using drift nets.

1419 Lately the Portuguese have been building latine-rigged ships, which can tack into the wind. They are are exploring waters off the coast of northern Africa, and they lay claim to the island of Madiera.

1420 The Portuguese are fighting inhabitants of the Canary Islands, south of Madiera.

1421 In Austria, Jews are imprisoned and expelled.

1421 In Florence, the first patent is granted – for a barge with hoists, used for hauling marble.

1428 Pope Martin V orders John Wyclif's bones exhumed and burned.

1428 King Alfonso V, king of Naples and Sicily, orders Jews in Sicily to convert to Catholicism.

1429 The Hundred Years' War is still on, and, in May, Joan of Arc defeats the English at Orleans. In August she enters Paris in triumph.

1431 Some Englishmen see Joan of Arc as truly a witch and as an agent of the devil – a common response to adversity in this age. Joan is captured. The English turn her over to ecclesiastic authorities -- the Inquisition – and at the French town of Rouen, then under English rule, Joan is burned at the stake.

1434 In this pre-industrial age the biggest business is banking, and in the Tuscan city of Florence a banking family, the Medici, begins to dominate the city politically.

1434 Portuguese start sailing past Cape Bojador, beyond which had been considered a "Sea of Darkness" from which no European had returned.

1435 Amid rebellion and turmoil, Sweden's parliament meets for the first time, to be dominated by noble families and the body that maintains Swedish national identity.

1439 Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church leaders agree to reunify these two branches of Christianity. The Russians do not agree and the Russian Orthodox Church is to remain independent of the Vatican in Rome.

1441 In one of their caravels, the Portuguese transport around 200 slaves from Africa to Portugal.

1448 On a small island known as Arguin (Arguim), rougly 700 kilometers south of Cape Bojador, the Portuguese build a castle and establish the first European trading post in Africa.

1448 The Russian Orthodox Church becomes independent of the Patriarch of Constantinople. 

Compilation from various web sources including Wikipedia.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Dry terrain with Mughal Indians and Ottomans

I took advantage of a relaxing Sunday afternoon to take photographs of not only the Dry terrain, but also Arable with SYW Prussians and Austrians deployed on them. These can be seen at my other blog, 18th Century Sojourn.

For this photo session, I split the terrain items between two double sized boards painted for arid geography. The first series have Ottoman cavalry deploying behind a gentle hill. Although not listed as an option under the DBA set, we make some allowances for our historical battles to use other terrain features, such as the dry river bed.

The second photo show skirmishers deployed in rough ground. The outcroppings are made from pink foam material and based so they can be removed for the placement of troops.

The last photo shows the dry river bed.

Mughal Indians
Mughal cavalry and infantry line up behind their heavy cannon in photo one, while in the next photo you can see the left wing resting on the village. For both photos, only one-third the numbers of elements were used. Plenty of punch left in the boxes. 


Friday 4 January 2013

DBA Dry terrain

Completing the necessary Arable terrain items for large scale battles, I moved on to the next terrain project on my list, Dry. According to the rules, DRY consists of 1-2 Rocky or Scrub as mandatory features with .Dunes, Difficult Hills, Oasis and BUA as optional.

Using various painting techniques, I covered two big battle sized boards and cut twenty pieces of varying shapes and sizes from my stock of floor covering. Painting these in the same style, I would embellish these to represent rocky, scrub or dunes. To ensure all items were consistent, I did this project in three steps.

Step 1, a base coat of earth colour was applied to board and all terrain features.
Step 2, a second colour was daubed on to give a mottled effect. This was followed with some highlighting.
Step 3, the finishing touches; adding dried grass sparingly to bring a consistency to the whole. At this step, I modeled a variety of outcroppings to place on the features marked rocky. Scrub features had smaller patches of dried grass. I made an attempt to make loose scrub items to place on the feature, but this was not successful.

The dry river bed and low hills were re-done in the same fashion. Although not on the DBA list of terrain items, these will serve for our historical battles also those using the DBA-HX system.

This was repainted to conform with the collection and given some highlighting.

Photo before touch up.

I have a large collection of tropical terrain features and during the years some items have come apart. The loose palm trees and brush I would re-use for my planned oasis.

I purchases a glue-gun for this purpose, but must confess I had never used one. This going to be a trial-by-error experience. Aside from the cord being too short, the whole experience went well. After the first attempt I noted the amount of time needed to solidify was relatively short, so I advanced a few steps and did a number of palm trees at a time. I them added the foliage hugging the ground. All items were firmly fixed and faster than if I used epoxy glue. I look forward to doing my Tropical items next. 

Added 5-01-2013

This marks the final item to complete the collection of Dry terrain. Google sand, dunes, aerial photography and you will find a wealth of interesting sand formations. I wanted a two dimensional representation of dunes to avoid my line of miniatures crossing over dunes looking like drunken sailors on a weekend shore-leave.  

On a sheet of paper, I painted my first attempts and knew I was moving in the right direction. Next step, I layered fine sand over the piece to be covered and played with the ripple effect made by wind. This was what I had imagined the final product to look like.

The problem here, I could not coat the entire piece with thinned glue as over time the sand would flake and fall off leaving bald spots. The flooring material or base is flexible, so I decided to draw through the sand lines marking only the high points of the dunes. Covering only the lines with sand would still leave 50% exposed. This space would be painted darker as a depression. The final step of painting and highlighting was completed today.

The finished collection would be sufficient to cover a 4 x 6 foot table. Now my Africans, Ottomans and Moghul Indians will have sufficient “Home” terrain to fight over. Photos of the collection will be posted tomorrow.