Bloodletting was a preventative and restorative
treatment frequently administered during the Middle Ages. It was
thought that this restored balance to the body, sharpened the senses and
the brain; it was also believed that bloodletting produced a musical
voice, promoted longevity and quenched sexual desire. Bloodletting in Cistercian
abbeys, as in other religious houses, was a routine part of life.
As a matter
of course monks were bled several times a year, to keep them in
optimum health. The monks were bloodlet in batches at least four times a
year – February,
April, June and September – but there was to be no bloodletting either
at harvest, when everyone was needed to help in the fields, or
at feasts when the entire community was expected to participate in all the
Any member of the community who was ill might receive extra bleedings
to restore his health.