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Late Medieval; 15th century
On Display: Museum of London: Medieval London: Effect of the Black Death and Medicine: Death and Disease
Glass urinal flasks like this were used by medieval doctors to diagnose patients' condition from the colour and appearance of their urine. Different colours were thought to indicate different ailments. Red urine, for example, showed a patient had a fever. Dark green urine indicated backache. Illustrations of sickbed scenes often featured a doctor holding up a urinal, and the urinal became an emblem of the medical profession. In 1382 a quack doctor, Roger Clerk of Wandsworth, was convicted of fraud when he charged Roger atte Hacche 12 pence for a 'cure' for his sick wife Johanna: a blank piece of parchment wrapped up in cloth of gold. As punishment, Clerk was paraded through the streets on a horse without a saddle, with two urinals and a whetstone (symbolising a lying tongue) hanging round his neck.
H 225 mm; DM 130 mm
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