Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Revelation

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Revelation

By C.J. Sansom

Revelation
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2009,
    560 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2010,
    560 pages.

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Beyond the Book

Bethlem Hospital

The Bedlam Hospital that appears in Revelation is no figment of the author’s imagination. It is fashioned after what is perhaps the oldest hospital for the mentally ill in the Western world, Bethlem Hospital in London. Bethlem has also gone by the name Bedlam, the root of the modern English word bedlam, meaning "uproarious confusion." Open at first to small groups of patients in the 1300s, Bethlem hospital was long the only hospital in Britain for the mentally ill. The wealthy families who could afford to have patients confined and "treated" unwittingly (or wittingly) subjected their loved ones to cruel and inhumane conditions.

In the 17th century, the need for more room and the dire conditions of the existing building (today the site of the Liverpool Street Station) caused Bethlem to move to a grand, new space with wide hallways and elegant ironwork. During this time, the only alternative to Bethlem for British in need of psychiatric care was a ...

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