Introduction

The history of impairment and disability, both in Scotland and globally, is the history of struggle against the Medical Model of Disability. This is the dominant model. Disabled people are seen as a problem to be “fixed” by medicine, surgery, therapy or special treatments. It becomes a personal tragedy when this does not happen. This powerful and pervasive view is reinforced in the news media, books, film, art and language. It is reflected in social policy and at every level of society.

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Prehistory

Evidence exists that shows that there were impaired individuals living in prehistoric subhuman prima...
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3100 BCE – 100 BCE Ancient Egyptians

Carvings in ancient Egyptian tombs depict dwarves as a Shaman and as the Keeper of the Royal Wardrob...
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2334 BCE – 1654 BCE Babylonians

Records from the ancient Babylonian civilization indicate that Semitic Chaldean seers kept a list of...
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1000 BCE – 600 CE Ancient and Classical Greece

Greco/Romano notions of ‘beauty’ and ‘physical perfection’ still dominate contemporary weste...
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800 BCE – 476 CE Ancient Rome

In Ancient Rome, children with impairments were drowned in the Tiber whilst people considered to be ...
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600 BCE – Celts Arrived in Scotland

Celtic societies were based around tribal structures and there were were distinct social classes in ...
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700 CE - Asylums

Asylums for people with mental health support needs are established by the Arabs inBaghdad,Fez (Moro...
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800 BCE – 63 BCE Old Testament

Some of the world’s earliest historical manuscripts, such as the books of the Old Testament, have ...
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500 BCE

The holy book of Hinduism, the Bhagavad-Gita, begins with the inquiry of the blind King Dhritaraasht...
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70 BCE - New Testament

The view of impaired people as charitable objects of pity are also rooted in early religious thinkin...
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200 BCE – 500 CE Jewish Talmud

In sections of the Talmud, it is suggested that disability is a holy state and a means of getting to...
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41 CE – 54 CE

The Roman Emperor Claudius was born into the heart of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In an age that des...
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129 CE

Galen’s influential writings on medicine remained the unchallenged authority for over a thousand y...
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200 CE

The physician Areataeus records the symptoms of diabetes....
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300 CE

Bishop Nicholas opens a hostel for people with learning difficulties in southernTurkey...
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India

Composed around 3500 BCE, the Rig-Veda, an ancient sacred poem of India, is said to be the first wri...
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Samaria

In one Sumerian myth, the goddess Nammu creates humans out of clay. Afterwards, Sumerian deities hol...
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Hephaestus

Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire and metal-working is one of the few instances of an ancient deity ...
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Africa

In the mythology of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, the sky god Olodumare sends his sons Obatala and O...
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Northern Europe

Impairment also plays an important part in Norse mythology. Balder, the sun-god, had a series of omi...
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Western Europe

Western European folklore and folk religions also mention changelings. A changeling is usually descr...
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Scotland and the Borders

In Scottish folklore, the children might be replacements for fairy children in the Tithe to Hell, an...
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Early Middle Ages

Early Middle Ages Formation of alms-houses, charitable foundations for the care of the poor, especia...
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1100 CE

Institutions for the quarantine of people with leprosy became prolific throughout Europe, these plac...
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1200 CE

The Belgian village of Gheel supports people with learning difficulties in family care settings, pro...
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1227 CE

St Leonard's Hospital for lepers is founded near Dunfermline....
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1243 CE

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, is officially consecrated by the Bishop of St. Andrews. The mothe...
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1270 CE

Death of King Louis the Ninth of France. Louis is later canonized in 1297 for his commitment to the ...
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1280 CE

The foundation of St Leonard’s, York, one of the first and greatest medieval hospitals, housing 22...
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1300 CE

Spectacles are invented in Italy....
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1329 CE

Death from leprosy of King Robert (Robert the Bruce) at Cardross, Dunbartonshire on 7 June 1329...
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1325 CE

The Venetian Republic founds the first national health service in Europe, and obliges licensed pract...
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1326 CE

A ‘madhouse’ is constructed as part of the Georg hospital in Elbing, Germany....
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1344 CE

A ‘Royal Ordinance’ decrees that lepers should leave the City of London and “betake themselves...
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1348 – 50 CE

The Black Death or Bubonic plague reaches Britain from Europe, killing a quarter of Scotland’s pop...
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1350 CE

The beginning of the Renaissance period of art and culture in Europe leads to a resurgence of the ob...
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1360 CE

Idiot cages are constructed in the centre of European towns as a way of keeping individuals with lea...
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1363 CE

A Leper Hospital is founded at Spittal Hill, Aberdeen....
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1388 CE

An English statute gives a mandate to local officials to discriminate between the ‘deserving’ an...
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1405 CE

Report of a ‘Visitation’ enquiring into the deplorable state of affairs at Bethlem Hospital. The...
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1409 CE

Spain has been described as the cradle of humane psychiatry because of the treatment at asylums such...
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1410 CE

St. Andrew’s University is founded....
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1432 CE

An Enactment in the Scottish Parliament restricts the movement of lepers in cities. Glasgow magist...
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1436 CE

Margery Kempe (c.1373-1438, dictates a book of her spiritual experiences) which shows how she went ?...
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1440 CE

Attitudes in rural Britain harden further towards the ‘sinful poor’. It is recognised that agric...
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1464 CE

Two examples taken from the Calendar of Patent Rolls for Edward 4th are of people being granted cust...
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1480 CE

Following the invention of the printing press, mass communication becomes much easier. Henry Tudor i...
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1489 CE

During a two hundred year period between 8 and 20 million people, mainly women are put to death acro...
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1494 CE

The Vagabonds and Beggars Act is passed in England. “Vagabonds, idle and suspected persons shall b...
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1495 CE

Syphilis, possibly introduced from the new world breaks out amongst troops in Italy and rapidly spre...
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1497 CE

Major outbreak of ‘grandgore’ (Syphilis) in Aberdeen...
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1501 CE

Birth of Girolamo Cardano, the first physician to recognize the ability of D/deaf people to reason....
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1505 CE

Incorporation of the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh. A charter, the Seal of Cause, decrees “… that...
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1516 CE

“Utopia” by Thomas More is published (English translation in 1551). “But hospital patients get...
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1530 – 1540 CE

With the Dissolution of the Roman Catholic monasteries and hospitals by Henry VIII, large numbers of...
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1531 CE

Justices of the peace are ordered to issue a ‘licence to beg’ to the infirm poor, thus making be...
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1535 CE

The Poor Law Act requires that “all Governors of Shires, Cities, Towns, Hundreds, Hamlets and Pari...
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1538 CE

The City of London unsuccessfully petitions Henry VIII to give them five hospitals plus their endowm...
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1547 CE

In 1547, Henry VIII hands over to the city of London the Priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem (which beca...
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1551 CE

The 5th outbreak of fever and ‘sweating sickness’ (influenza) since 1485 kills thousands of peop...
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1552 CE

Parishes are ordered to register their poor; onus for the relief of the poor is placed on parish cou...
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1572 CE

The Poor Law Act make each parish responsible to provide for its own ‘aged, impotent and sick’ p...
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1574 CE

The Scottish Poor Law Act is enforced...
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1575 CE

Licenciado Lasso, a Spanish lawyer, concludes that deaf people who learn to speak are no longer dumb...
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1579 CE

In Sicily 65 people, many of whom were believed to be associates of fairies, are put on trial for so...
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1586 CE

Severe famine in England which gave rise to the Poor Law system....
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1590 CE

The first major witchcraft persecution in Scotland begins with the North Berwick witch trials when a...
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1593 CE

The Act for the Necessary Relief of Soldiers and Mariners requires that 'Every parish shall be charg...
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1594-98 CE

Intermittent famines, some associated with typhus and dysentery ('bloody flux'). 'People were starvi...
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1597 CE

Poor Law legislation in Scotland enables voluntary contributions via the Kirk to support the ‘aged...
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1598 CE

Poor Law Act: Every parish is required to appoint overseers of the poor to find work for the unemplo...
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1600 CE

One quarter of all children born in the 1600s die before the age of 10. Two thirds of this number di...
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1601 CE

The Poor Law makes economic provision for people dependent on charity, including disabled people....
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1604 CE

As leprosy begins to disappear the remaining colonies are converted to other uses and become filled ...
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1611 CE

Publication of the Authorised (King James) Bible with its influential portrayal of disabled people a...
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1613 CE

Death records are introduced – ‘That Bills of Mortality were appointed to be kept in Glasgow, th...
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1616 CE

Giovanni Bonifacio publishes a treatise discussing sign language, “Of The Art of Signs”....
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1621 CE

Publication of Robert Burton’s ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy. What it is with all the kinds, causes...
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1646 CE

Outbreak of the bubonic plague in Perth...
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1649 CE

Famine in northern England and the borders...
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1654 CE

In Glasgow, ‘The surgeons gave in a paper to the session offering their services in behalf of the ...
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