Apoplexy in the Elizabethan Age

Thomas Blundeville, The Fower Chiefyst Offices Belongyng to Horsemanshippe (London: William Seres, 1566):

The Appoplexye is a disease, depriuing all the whole body of sense, & mouing. And if it depriue but parte of the body, then it is called of the Latins by the Greeke name Paralisis, in oure tongue a Pawlsie. It procedes of colde, grosse, and tough humors, oppressing the brayne all at once, which may breede partly of crudites and rawe disgestion, and partly by meanes of some hurte in the heade, taken by fall, strype, or otherwyse. (18)

Thomas Drant, Two Sermons (London: John Daye, 1570):

Iulius Caeser, Hercules, and Mahomet haue the falling sicknesse. (H4)

Thomas Harmon, A Caueat for Common Cursetors (London: Henry Middleton, 1573):

These that do counterfet the Cranke be yong knaues and yonge harlots, that déeply dissemble the falling sicknes. For the Crank in their language is the fallinge euill, I haue séene some of these with fayre writings testimonials, with the names and eales of sme men of worship in Shropshyre, and in other Shires farre of, that I haue wel known and haue taken the same from them. Many of these do go without writings, and will go halfe naked, and looke most pitiously. And if any clothes be giuen them they immediately sell the same, for weare it they will not, because they would be the more pitied, and we are filthy clothes on their heads, and neuer goe without a péece of whyte sope about them, which if they sée cause or present gayn, they will priuely conuay the same into their mouth, & so worke the same there, that they will fome as it were a Boore, and maruelosly for a tyme torment them selues, and thus deceiue they the common people, and gayne much. (Cap. 7)

Thomas Lupton, A Thousand Notable Things, of Sundry Sortes (London: John Charlewood, 1579):

It is not good to burye any too hastely, especially: such as haue had the Apoplexy, thefalling sycknes, and that are suffocate with the Strangulation of the wombe, called the moother. For such may seeme to be deade, and yet reuyue againe within three dayes: for it was the fowrth daye after Lazarus dyed, ere Christe dyd rayse him from death to lyfe: least any should falsely report, that Lazarus had had the Apoplexy, or thefalling sycknes, or such lyke, and therfore but in a traunce, or not perfectly dead: whereby the iust meryte of Christes maruelous myracle thereof myght be darkned. This is the meaning of Lemnius in his seconde Booke of the secrete myracles of Nature. Therefore it is very meete to know, whether any such be perfectly dead or not, which you may doo by holding a lytle burning candle at the parties nose, whose mouth is open: or else by setting some lytle cuppe or glasse full of water to the brymme, vpon the sayde partyes belly or nauell, for by the mouing of the flame of the candle, or of the vessell with water: you shall perceyue his secrete breathing, and whether there be any lyfe in him or not. Camillus. (196-97)

Stephen Batmen, Batman vppon Bartholome (London: Thomas East, 1582):

Constantine and other authours call the falling euill Epilencia, and in olde time this euill was called and named Gods wrath: As Constantine sayth, Epilencia is a meist humour, by the which the chambers of the braine be not perfectly stopped, the which humour letteth the soule that i the spirit of feeling, to declare his working & dooing, vntil the way of the brain be vnstopped of that humour. This euil is called in passion Yeranoxon, that is the holy passion, for it occupieth the holy part of the body, that is the head. And it is called Hercudis also, for it is strong as Hercules was. Also it is called the faling euil, & hath that name of yt doing therof: For it stoppeth the sinews, & maketh the members, that be instruments of vertues, poore of the gouernaunce of spirits, & destroieth them. And therefore in this euil men be compelled to fal. Also this euill Epilencia is nigh of yt kind of Apoplexia: for one is the place of both, & the matter, of the which they bée bread: for it is colde and cleauing….He that hath this euill falleth sodeinly, the mouth is drawen awrye & a side, & the face also, with quaking of the neck, of ye noll, & of all the bodie, with grislye grashing of the téeth, and foming at the mouth, and outputting of many superfluities. Phisitions call this falling euill the lyttle Apoplexia, & commeth of thrée causes, as Constantine sayth, eyther of flematike or melancholyke humoures, that bréede in the further part of the braine, or els of ventositie colde and grose that hath the mastry ouer the braine, or ouer some other me~bers, or ouer the stomack. (“Of the Faling Sicknesse,” 90)

Phillip Barrough, The Methode of Phisicke (London: Thomas Vautroullier, 1583):

APOPLEXIA in Greeke and Latin is a disease wherin the fountaine and originall of all the senewes being affected, euery part of the body doth sodainly loose both mouing and sense. Or it is a depryuing both of sense and mouing through out the whole body coming sodainly with let and hurt of all voluntary functions. If this stopping of the brain come in on halfe of the body only then it is called Paralysis in Greeke: in English the palsey wherof we will speak in the next Chapter. The Apoplexie is caused of a flegmaticke humour, that is cold, grosse and tough, which doth at one time aboundantly fill the principall ventricles of the braine, which humour ouermuch crudities, and chiefly dronkennes doth engender. Also it is caused by a fall or a blow which shaketh & bruiseth the braine, and causeth humours to flowe thither. Also very cold ayer which doth thick and congele the humidities and excrements of the braine, doth somtime cause this disease: it may also be caused of a grosse mela~choly humour. Concerning signes ther goeth befor this disease a full and sharp pain of the head, and a swelling of the vaines in the necke, the Vertigo, and brightnes before the eyes, also cold of the extreme partes without cause, panting of the whole body, slownes to moue, and gnashing of the teeth whyle they sleepe. Ther vrine is litle in quantity, black, like rust and canker in metall, and hath a residence like meale. They that fall into this disease doe lack sense altogether, they lye as they were a sleepe with ther eyes shut, and do snort. The veheme~cie & greatnesse of this disease maie be discerned by the impediment that they haue in breathing. For when it is very much differing from naturall order, it betokeneth vehemencie of the disease, and that it is a great and strong Apoplexie. But when ther is a litle impedime~t in the breathing, then you may iudge that ther is but litle hurte in the braine, and so you maie account it a small and weak Apoplexy. The worst and strongest Apoplexie is, wherin the breathing is so deminished that it can very hardly be perceiued, and that is almost as euill, wherin the breath stoppeth for a whyle, and then is fetched with great violence. This disease for the most part doth chaunce to old men, which be of a flegmaticke complexion, and which doe vse such a diet as encreaseth fleume. But if so be it inuade any yong person, and that in sommer season, it is most perillous. This disease is vncurable, or at the lest is seeldome cured. (“Of the Apoplexy,” 25)

PARALYSIS in Greeke, Resolutio in Latin: in Englishe the Palseye. It is a disease wherin the one halfe of the body either the right or the left doth loose both sense and mouing. Also somtime the palsey chaunceth in one member only, (as for example) in the hand, the legge, or the tongue. But note here that the palsey which followeth the Apoplexy is particularly called in greeke [undefined span non-Latin alphabet]. And therfore the word Paralysis is a more generall name then Paraplegia. But wheras in the palsey, somtime sense only is lost, and sometime mouing alone, and somtime both sense and mouing: it is especially called resolution of the senewes or palseye, when mouing is lost. (“Of the Palseye,” 26)

EPILEPSIA in Greeke (as Galen saith) is a conuulsion, drawing, and stretching of all the whole partes of the body, not continually, but that which chaunceth at sundrie times, with hurt of the mind and sense, it is so called bycause it attachethe both the sense and feeling of the head, & also of the mind. The Latines call this disease, Morbus comitialis. Ther be .iij. differences in this sicknes or disease. The first is caused, when this sicknes cometh only of disease in the braine, as it chaunceth of grosse and clammy fleume, or sharpe choler doth [ 1] stoppe the passage of the spirite in the ventricles of the braine, if this euill cometh of a grosse humour, then the disease commeth sodainly, & it is soon gone again. Secondly it is caused [ 2] through euill affect in the mouth of the stomake, (that is) when the braine laboureth to driue awaie the vapours and humours that ascend vp to it from the stomake. Thirdly the [ 3] falling sicknes is caused, when as the patient feeleth a thing like vnto a cold ayer, comming from some member, and creeping vp to the braine, but this chaunceth very seeldome. Ther goeth before this euill an vnwyse state of the body and mind, saddenesse, forgetfullnes, troublesome dreames, ache of the head, and continuall fullnes in it, especially in anger, palenes of the face, inordinate mouing of the tongue, & many do byte it. Assone as this euill taketh them, the sicke fall downe, and they are plucked vp together, they snort, and sometime they crye out, many do tremble, and turn round about. But the peculiar signe of this disease is foming at the mouth. This disease chaunceth most to children. (“Of the falling sicknes. DE EPILEPSIA,” 31)

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene (London: William Ponsonbie, 1590):

Full many mischiefes follow cruell Wrath;
Abhorred bloodshed, and tumultuous strife,
Vnmanly murder, and vnthrifty scath,
Bitter despight, with rancours rusty knife,
And fretting griefe the enemy of life;
All these, and many euils moe haunt ire,
The swelling Splene, and Frenzy raging rife,
The shaking Palsey, and Saint Fraunces fire:
Such one was Wrath, the last of this vngodly tire.

Ben Jonson, The Comicall Satyre of Euery Man Out of His Humor (London: Adam Islip for William Holme, 1600):

MACILENTE.A Man well parted, a sufficient Scholler, and travail'd; who (wanting that place in the worlds account, which he thinkes his merit apable of) fals into such an envious Apoplexie, with which his iudgement is so dazeled and distasted, that he growes violently impatient of any opposite happinesse in another.