"Health Is A Divine Gift - Do Not Abuse It, Rather Enjoy It": The Knowledge of Medicine by Noble Women in the Role of Pati

"Zdravie je boží dar - nezneužívajte ho, ale radšej využívajte". Šľachtické ženy ako pacientky a liečiteľky a ich medicínske znalosti

People in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period suffered from various diseases, injuries, pandemics and older age consequences to a considerably greater extent than nowadays. Many publicists were intrigued by physical and mental health problems of well-known historical figures, though frequently these problems were just unfounded and fabricated tales.
Nevertheless, sources of the period contain a lot of information on health issues, diseases and methods of healing. Unwritten, but usual commitment of a noble woman was to attend to health not only of her immediate family, especially children, but also of other people at their court. In many cases detailed descriptions of problems, relatively accurate diagnostics and therapy based on empirical experiences are available. Only few aristocratic women could pride themselves on having their own family doctor in the 16th and 17th centuries. Therefore many noble women considered healing as their hobby and not just as one of their duties.
The most popular were obviously midwifery and gynecology. The first exceptionally detailed and well documented treatment of doctor Gaspar Fraxin was performed on his patient Ursula Kanizsay, the wife of palatine. Paleopathological analyses of remains of Elisabeth (Alžbeta) Czobor give us interesting information on her health condition.
Secret cures and treatments were handed down for generations and guarded as the most precious family jewels. Every medicine was meticulously recorded into a recipe book. Books of recipes were more a collection of recipes for a particular member of the family and his or her specific health problems rather than a universal collection of medicines and treatments.
Also, there were several men who were interested in medical knowledge. Concerns with health issues and curing is one of the many demonstrations of humanistic orientation of Hungarian nobility in the 16th and 17th centuries and attest to general interest in education and inclination to secular way of life.