There are four winds. There are four ranks of angels in
There are four times of the year: spring, summer, autumn and
winter. There are four humours in the human body: red bile,
black bile, blood and phlegm.
[From a tract on humorology in a herbal from Byland’s library] (54)
Sustenance for the sick Roger de Mowbray gave two stags and three hinds to Byland each year, to
sustain the sick members of the community.
at Byland, like that of other religious houses, was managed by the infirmarer (or server of the sick), who was a monastic official (obedientiary)
of some prominence. He would have had at least one servant to assist him.
In addition to sick monks, the infirmarer would have cared for
from bloodletting, as well as older members of the community who required
greater comfort and a more fortifying diet.
customary of the Cistercian Order (Ecclesiastica Officia) discusses
the infirmarer’s managerial duties in some detail, but says
little of his medical knowledge. The infirmarer – and no doubt others
in the abbey – was probably well-versed in herbal remedies and used
herbs from the abbey’s herb garden.
He would also have administered medicinal compounds.
The infirmarer would
have had access to certain medical and herbal texts from the library at
Byland. An interesting example is a late twelfth/early
herbal now preserved in Cambridge University Library. This rather ambitious
work began as an exhaustive list of herbs in alphabetical order, but stops
at the letter ‘B’; it then continues with a summary of humorology
and its bearing on bloodletting. For example, it recommends that bloodletting
should not be carried out after the Ides of July, as blood was most active
just before this period.(55)
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