The Tudor Society

Mental Illness in Tudor Times

This week's Claire Chats video talk is inspired by the research that Clare Cherry and I did for our book on George Boleyn and the fact that he was Governor of Bethlehem Hospital, or Bedlam. I don't know why it sprang to mind but it made me dig a bit more into Bedlam and also how mental illness was viewed and treated in the Tudor period.

Disability History: Mental illness in 16th-17th centuries:

The Madness of Bedlam

Further reading

Contemporary works

  • Treatise of Melancholie (1586) – Timothie Bright
  • A Brief Discourse of a Disease Called the Suffocation of the Mother (1603) – Edward Jorden
  • The Anatomy of Melancholie (1621) – Robert Burton
  • The Newe Iewell of Health (1576) – Konrad Gesner
  • A Right Profitable Booke for all Diseases (1587) – Peter Levens
  • The Breviary of Healthe (1552) – Andrew Boorde
  • A Discourse of the Preservation of the Sight: Of Melancholike Diseases; of Rheumes, and of Old Age (1599) – M A Laurentius
  • The Method of Phisicke, Conteyning the Causes, Signes, and Cures of Inward Diseases in Mans Body from the Head to the Foote – P Barrough

There are 3 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    I haven’t as yet seen the videos which I know will be brilliant but can I as someone who has struggled with mental health problems for many years say thanks Claire and Tim for doing something on this important issue. It’s a pleasure to visit and see how history has dealt with something which people still see as taboo today. The number of celebrities and sports people who have come forward to talk about mental health is amazing. Thanks for these videos.

    1. C - Post Author

      I think it’s brilliant that people like Prince William are being open about their struggles and it’s not seen as taboo or a stigma now.

  2. M

    Thank you for an interesting talk, and I appreciate the resources. Michelle t

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Mental Illness in Tudor Times