After a bit of googling I've found that the Catholic Church prohibited bloodletting at the Council of Tours in 1163.


But nothing about Protestant opinions...

Some Protestant author wrote something about bloodletting?

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    I don't want to leave a glib response, but there was almost 400 years between 1163 and the Protestant Reformation.
    – Peter Turner
    Sep 9, 2021 at 18:04
  • @PeterTurner, obviously. I'm interested in Christian opinions about bloodletting. I've found the Catholic official opinion. But nothing about Protestants. The bloodletting was practised, v. gr. in the United States. But... I'm interested in religious opinions. Sep 9, 2021 at 18:16
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    @PeterTurner but the practice continued a few hundred years beyond even the reformation. In general, I assume Protestantism follows Catholicism on obscure or unspecified issues, but it doesn’t seem like bloodletting could have survived both condemning it, although perhaps it could and did
    – Al Brown
    Sep 9, 2021 at 18:36
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    Bloodletting, as a medical 'procedure' was not agreed with by all the medical profession, nor by all the potential patients. One hopes that bible readers in general would realise the futility of such a practice. That said, though, donating blood is a healthy thing to do. So maybe it wasn't completely poppycock.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 9, 2021 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


Bloodletting and Protestantism?

Just a little clarification before continuing here. The Council of Tours in 1163, did not exactly prohibited bloodletting completely. It is true that it declared bloodletting as being an abhor to the Church. In 1163 this Church edict simply prohibited monks and priests, who often stood in as doctors, from performing bloodletting, stating that the church “abhorred” the procedure. The Church simply did not want her ministers to accidentally be responsible causing the death of someone.

Bloodletting continued for many centuries up to about 1920, including both Catholic and Protestant countries.

Bloodletting has been employed since ancient times as a method to keep the body’s so-called four humors in balance. By the second millennium, the belief in the four humors began to decline, but bloodletting remained popular. Because surgery was still a crude practice, many physicians avoided it. Instead, people turned to the church for medical help. However, in 1163 a church edict by the Council of Tours forbade monks and priests to practice bloodletting. - Bloodletting: an early treatment used by barbers, surgeons

It can be equally seen that many Protestant faithful and doctors equally had an abhor for the practice of bloodletting. It took until the early 20th centuries before the practice was completely abandoned by medical professionals including Catholic and Protestant physicians.

The medical physician Alexander Seitz (1470-1545) offers how some reformers snapped the fears and convictions surrounding the 1521 plague.

Seitz’s agenda extended beyond spiritual issues and into natural medicine and was noteworthy for its personal character. Besides his prediction of a Divine flood, Seitz wrote pamphlets on Plague and bloodletting in 1521 that argue for medical reform. Seitz’s attack on the practice of bleeding plague victims blends personal observation with scholarly learning, much like other medical reformer of the time. He states clearly that bloodletting has the cost innumerable countless lives and deferents his unorthodox views by citing words reminiscent of Luther in 1521: [T]he characteristic of a free conscience is to fear no one concerning the truth. Seitz wanted physicians to recognize the complexities of bloodletting, pointing out the nuanced views of Avienna, Meuse and Gentilis who advocated bloodletting only when the blood was poisoned. To support his case Seitz relates his own experience. Among recent pet inns at the monastery of Scheffelar, ten that had blood drawn soon died, while the one person left soon recovered. Seitz also states that when plague broke out in his own home, he saved six people without bloodletting, while the one he bleed soon died. - Plague, Print, and the Reformation: The German Reform of Healing, 1473–1573

The practice continued for centuries. Certainly physicians had various opinions on this subject matter in regions influenced by both Catholics and Protestants.

Marie-Antoinette (a Catholic), for instance, seemed to benefit from a healthy dose of bloodletting while giving birth to her first child, Marie-Thérèse, in 1778, 14 years before the guillotine would shed more of the queen’s blood.

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