I spent my childhood in Lincolnshire and went to Art College in Leicester before moving to Sussex, where I still live, and I am passionate about the seventeenth century.
I have written stories since I was little girl and, although I never liked history at school, I have always enjoyed historical novels. I became inspired to write my books when I first visited Versailles, the palace of the magnificent Sun King, Louis X1V, As I wandered around the sumptuous rooms in his chateau and walked in the very gardens he created there, King Louis came to life for me, He was real, he was there – I could almost see him admiring the fountains, surrounded by his finely-dressed courtiers! I felt I had been transported back in time.
I try to take my own readers on a journey to this exciting era so, if you fancy travelling to the 17th century, why not join Philip and friends on their adventures?
Two more of the events I attended last year!
The Brighton & Hove Summer Book Fayre
My book signing at Waterstones in Eastbourne
RECENT BLOG POSTS – Read more at my blog site: http://Judiththomsonblog.wordpress.com
Bet, one of the characters in my ‘Philip Devalle’ books was adept at preparing potions with which to treat the household. Two of her treatments were making her patients swallow a piece of cotton dipped in mouse blood in order to cure a sore throat and using as an antiseptic a solution made from olive oil in which she had boiled a dead cat. To ease pain, she prepared a potion of rosewater, liquorice and white of egg, although it was apparently believed by some that to alleviate the pain of childbirth the father of the child should place his hat upon the woman’s abdomen whilst she was in labour!
Here a few more cures I came across in my research (which I strongly suggest you do not try at home!)
To cure a Windy Rupture (not too sure what that is!) warm some cow dung, spread it thickly on a piece of leather and apply it to the affected area.
To cure a cold, pare the rind of an orange very thinly, roll it up inside out and put a roll up each nostril.
To cure the ague (fits of hot sweats and shivering) you could take pills made of cobwebs. If you think they sound distasteful, then you should consider that to cure asthma the pills should be made of powdered toads!
The cure for toothache, though was very simple – you just put a clove of garlic into your ear!
For gout in the foot or hand you could apply lean beef-steak. (This may sound less outlandish but I assure you it is quite a repulsive thought to someone like me, who is a vegetarian!) Far more palatable was dealing with a cut by binding on some toasted cheese!
My favourite remedy of all is to cure something called the Iliac Passion, a condition which seemed to involve particularly nasty vomiting. The remedy? Hold a live puppy constantly on your stomach. Now that I wouldn’t mind trying!
There were also the herbal remedies. Nicholas Culpeper published his ‘Complete Herbal’ in the early part of the seventeenth century and it contained information on an astounding number of plants, explaining in detail their properties, usage and even when they should be picked to be at their best. I have a modern copy of the book, which I bought for my research, and it makes for fascinating reading. Some of his remedies, I’m sure, would have worked very well, although the herbal medicines that were in use during the Plague in 1665 would have been hopelessly inadequate. Culpeper says confidently that rue is a good cure for the Plague and that sorrel will help Plague sores to break but, as I mentioned in ‘Designs of a Gentleman,’ the Pest Houses used to give patients a mixture made up of “a handful of mandragories and the same of rue, then featherfew and sorrel burnet, with a quantity of the crops and roots of dragons,” and it was of little use. No more use, probably, than deliberately catching syphilis, which some thought would prevent them from being infected by the Plague in the first place!
Having said that, Bet’s primrose salve may well have helped to heal a wound and the syrup she distilled from poppy heads would almost certainly have induced sleep! All the same, I imagine it was a brave person who consulted his physician, and an especially brave one who, like Samuel Pepys and King Louis XlV endured operations during the seventeenth century. Most people, I imagine, just hoped that whatever ailed them would just get better on its own!