The poor fellow to the right is suffering from an anal fistula, described thusly:

  • ... a small channel that can develop between the end of the bowel and the skin near the anus.
  • ... can cause bleeding and discharge when passing stools - and can be painful. ...
  • In some cases, an anal fistula causes persistent drainage. In other cases, where the outside of the channel opening closes, the result may be recurrent anal abscesses. The only cure for an anal fistula is surgery. [WebMD]

Nowadays it is called a "pilonidal cyst." At the very least, inconvenient; in many cases, extremely painful, especially when sitting down.

At a time when many men spent long stretches of time bouncing on horseback, these fistula-in-ano (to give it the Latin phrase) were debilitating. Fortunately, soldiers of Edward III's time had a solution in the skill of John of Gaunt's favorite physician and surgeon.

John Arderne (1307-1392) left us very little information about his early life. It seems he was a surgeon in Nottinghamshire. During the Hundred Years War, he probably traveled with the army; his writing suggests a well-traveled man with wide experience of the world as well as medical practices.

Instruments illustrated on Arderne's writing.He produced the definitive work on treating this particular medical problem. His writing describes the cause and the treatment, and describes the surgical instruments needed for his procedures. He also shows knowledge of Galen & Guy de ChauliacAvicenna, and Dioscorides.

Arderne was ahead of his time in some ways. He advised opium to dull pain during surgery, and the code of conduct proper for a physician. In the matter of fees, he was fine with charging a rich patient whatever the traffic would bear, but felt that the poor should be treated for free. He was also a great believer in cleanliness, and in not fussing with a wound once treated, but allowing the healing process to proceed untampered with.

That is not to say that he was "modern." He also subscribed to the belief that parts of the body were aligned with astrological signs, and that the time of the year could influence the efficacy of surgery on parts of the body.

For more information, consider going here and here.

Did the greatest English poet of the 14th century and the greatest French poet of the 14th century meet, thanks to the Hundred Years War?

Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) was a classical composer and poet—in fact, one of the last poets who also composed music—and a part of the ars nova ["new technique"] movement which embraced polyphony. His name suggests that he was born in Machault, east of Rheims in France, but it is clear that he spent most of his life in Rheims. Unlike many non-royal figures of his age, his popularity has ensured that we possess a remarkable amount of biographical information about him.

As a young man, he was a secretary to the ing of Bohemia, John I. He was named a canon of Verdun, then Arras, then Rheims; by 1340 he had given up the other positions and was a canon of Rheims only. As a canon, attached to the cathedral in Rheims and living without private wealth, he could devote himself to composing poetry and music. In all, we have about 400 pieces in various forms.

He lost his first patron, King John of Bohemia, when John died at the Battle of Crécy in 1346 during the Hundred Years War. Machaut found support from John's daughter. When she died during the Black  Death, he found support from her sons, Jean de Berry and CharlesV, Duke of Normandy.

In the next phase of the Hundred Years War, Geoffrey Chaucer (likely still a teenager at the time) was in the retinue of Prince Lionel as a valet. During the siege of Rheims in early 1360, Rheims rallied and captured the besiegers. Chaucer was taken prisoner. This would not have involved being thrown in dungeons and experiencing deprivation. The practice at the time was to capture as many high-ranking opponents as possible in order to gain money from ransoms. (Chaucer was ransomed for £16 in March.) The English would have likely experienced a mild form of "house arrest" which would have allowed them a certain amount of freedom. Chaucer would have had ample opportunity to visit Machaut.

Did he? We cannot be sure. Chaucer's poetry rarely offers attribution for his influences, but he was certainly intimately familiar with Machaut's work. Scholars have found numerous influences in Chaucer's writing. Chaucer scholar James I. Wimsatt has referred to "Guillaume de Machaut, who among fourteenth-century French poets exerted by far the most important influence on Chaucer."[link] Even long before he himself began writing, he was in a court that valued and supported the arts and poetry. Machaut was enormously popular in his own lifetime, and it seems inconceivable that Machaut would not have been sought out by several of the English who would have appreciated his reputation.

Sir Richard Stury (c.1330-1395) was a member of a family that served the kings of England for generations. Stury, during the 1359-60 campaign of the Hundred Years War, was captured along with Geoffrey Chaucer by the French and held at Reims. Where Chaucer, as a valet in Prince Lionel's contingent, had been ransomed for £16, Stury, as a knight in the employ of the king, was worth £50.

He was a chamber knight and a councilor to Edward III. He was also, like many of his fellow chamber knights, a lover of poetry. His will included an expensive copy of the Romance of the Rose.

He and Chaucer were well-acquainted. Their paths would have crossed frequently in London, and they were put together on an embassy in 1377 and a commission in 1390 to look into repairing the dikes and drains of the Thames.

Stury had a reputation for being a Lollard, a follower of the teachings of John Wycliffe.