This book provides a fascinating insight into the early history of healing, of the treatment of wounds and illness in the Middle Ages. One cannot speak of doctors without talking of their patients too, and in consequence it also yields much detailed insight into the social history of England. It is of interest, therefore, not only to the medical profession as a history of their craft in early times, but also to the layman and particularly the social historian. Our forefathers knew more than we imagine and the mediaeval barbers and surgeons enjoyed an important place in society which could bring rich rewards. Royal patronage was, of course, the great prize. The story begins with the early surgeons and barber-surgeons and the state of medical knowledge at the time of the Conqueror, before describing in more detail the mutual almost continual interchange of scholarship between England and the Continent until the reign of Richard II. The position in the fourteenth century merits an entire chapter.
The traditional Fair Book of Surgery compiled by Thomas Morstede, the most eminent surgeon of the fifteenth century, was thought for centuries to have been lost but has been found and identified by the author in the Harleian Collection in the British Museum. It was written in 1446 and extensive extracts are quoted. The age old rivalry between the barbers and the surgeons is a subject which is fully covered as the story develops, ending with an account of the union between the Barbers Company and the Fellowship of Surgeons by Act of Parliament in 1540. A concluding chapter describes the life and times of Thomas Vicary, Sergeant Surgeon to King Henry VIII, and his contemporaries.
Wear/minor tearing to dust jacket. Minor foxing on underside of front cover. Remaining pages are clean and bright.