1902 Encyclopedia > Surgery > History of Surgery - 14th and 15th Centuries. Paracelsus. Paré.

(Part 4)


Part 4. 14th and 15th Centuries. Paracelsus. Paré.

The 14th and 15th centuries are almost entirely without interest for surgical history. The dead level of tradition is broken first by two men of originality and genius, Paracelsus and Paré, and by the revival of anatomy at the hands of Vesalius and Fallopius, professors at Padua. Apart from the mystical form in which much of his teaching was cast, Para- Paracelsus has great merits as a reformer of surgical celsus. practice. "The high value of his surgical writings," says Haser, "has been recognized at all times, even by his opponents." It is not, however, as an innovator in opera- tive surgery but rather as a direct observer of natural processes that Paracelsus is distinguished. His description of "hospital gangrene," for example, is perfectly true to nature; his numerous observations on syphilis are also sound and sensible; and he was the first to point out the connexion between cretinism of the offspring and goitre of the parents. He gives most prominence to the healing of wounds. His special surgical treatises are Die Heine Chirurgie (1528) and Die grosse Wund-Arznei (1536-37),— the latter being the best known of his works. Somewhat later in date, and of much greater concrete importance Paré. for surgery than Paracelsus, is Ambroise Paré (1517- 1590). He began life as apprentice to a barber-surgeon in Paris and as a pupil at the hotel dieu. His earliest opportunities were in military surgery during the campaign of Francis I. in Piedmont. Instead of treating gunshot wounds with hot oil, according to the practice of the day, he had the temerity to trust to a simple bandage; and from that beginning he proceeded to many other de- velopments of rational surgery. In 1545 he published at Paris La methode de traicter les plages /aides par hacque- butes et aultres bastons a feu. The same year he began to attend the lectures of Sylvius, the Paris teacher of anatomy, to whom he became prosector; and his next book was an Anatomy (1550). His most memorable service was to get the use of the ligature for large arteries generally adopted, a method of controlling the haemorrhage which made am- putation on a large scale possible for the first time in history. Like Paracelsus, he writes simply and to the point in the language of the people, while he is free from the encumbrance of mystical theories, which detract not a little from the merits of his fellow-reformer in Germany. It is only in his book on monsters, written towards the end of his career, that he shows himself to have been by no me.ans free from superstition. Paré was adored by the army and greatly esteemed by successive French kings; but his innovations were opposed, as usual, by the faculty, and he had to justify the use of the ligature as well as he could by quotations from Galen and other ancients.

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