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Document Details :
Title: Waaraan leed Liedewij in godsnaam?
Subtitle: Enige opmerkingen over het ziekbed van de maagd van Schiedam (1380-1433)
Author(s): JONKMAN, Joost , JONGEN, Ludo
Journal: Ons Geestelijk Erf
Volume: 79 Issue: 2 Date: Juni 2008
Medieval writers did not strife for historical correctness in their biographies (vitae) of saints. Their main aim was to describe Christian values (often in metaphorical terms) and the intervention of the Creator in daily live by the occurrence of miracles. Nevertheless some vitae contain actual facts which are even more interesting when substantiated by documentation by medieval civilian authorities. This is also the case in the life of Liedewij of Schiedam (1380-1433). So it seemed acceptable to reconsider her medical history combining her vita and a charter by the aldermen of Schiedam. It appears that without any doubt she was suffering from malaria, dropsy, bedsores, bladder stones and multifocal neurological symptoms, the latter probably more due to gastrointestinal infection and severe deficiencies than to multiple sclerosis. The central symptom, anorexia, can be seen as a way to manifest herself in a situation of ultimate dependency by a person with a pre-existent tendency to manipulating her environment.