Little is known about massage or health and beauty practices throughout the Dark and Middle Ages, i.e. from the decline of the Roman Empire around 500 ad until the Middle Ages around
1400 ad. Few records remain from those days of wars, strict religions, superstition and persecution. Little value was placed on education, the arts, physical health and fitness.
Following this period came the Renaissance (rebirth) in 1450 ad. Interest in the arts and sciences flourished and there was renewed interest in health practices. Once again we see massage advocated and practised for therapeutic purposes.
In the sixteenth century, the French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1517-90) promoted and developed the use of massage. He was the personal physician to four French kings. He is reputed to have successfully treated Mary Queen of Scots with massage. Paré graded massage into gentle, medium and vigorous. We use similar categories today, namely soothing or relaxing, general, and stimulating. Many other physicians copied his methods and massage was established medically.
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