Harold Ellis states that during the eighteenth century ‘the main endeavours of the surgeon were directed to the treatment of fractures and other injuries, the drainage of localised infections and removal of superficial lesions. Only when the patient could suffer his miseries no longer would he allow the surgeon to deal with his gangrenous leg by amputation, his strangulated hernia by relief from the knife or his bladder stone by lithotomy, by what was often a lethal operation’.
This section of the online exhibition describes a variety of interventions and operations carried out by surgeons such as the amputation of limbs, the use of prosthetics and orthopaedic devices, the treatment of dislocations and fractures by traction, the removal of hernias and bladder stones, and finally, the utilisation of trepanning. As you will see, a number of images are taken from the works of Ambroise Paré (1510-90). We focus on his works because he was a towering figure in the history of surgery and one of the most celebrated surgeons of the Renaissance.
Paré was born near the village of Laval, Maine in the north of France. He was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon and completed his training in Paris. He spent three years as a house surgeon in the Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu in Paris and entered military service as a surgeon at the age of twenty six. He served in at least seventeen military campaigns and was personal surgeon to four successive kings of France beginning with Henry II (1519-1559). Among his most important contributions to surgery and many surgical innovations was to popularise the use of the ligature in limb amputations to prevent haemorrhaging from blood vessels, and the rejection of boiling oil in the treatment of gunshot wound trauma. Paré was a prolific writer and published his writings in his native vernacular French rather than the academic lingua franca of the time, which was Latin. The Edward Worth Library holds a copy of the 1685 Lyons edition of his collected works entitled Les oeuures de M. Ambroise Paré, which was originally published in Paris in 1575.
Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente, Opera chirurgica … (Padua, 1647).
The above image is a depiction of the Oplomoclion, an orthopaedic exoskeleton, published in Opera chirurgica … (Padua, 1647) by the Italian surgeon Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (1533-1619).
Ellis, Harold, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Surgery, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2009).
Manring, M. M., et al., ‘Treatment of War Wounds: A Historical Review’, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Vol. 467, no. 8 (2009), 2168–2191.
Paré, Ambroise, Ten Books of Surgery translated by Robert White Linker and Nathan Womack (Athens, Georgia, 2010). This is an English translation of Paré’s Dix livres de la chirurgie (Paris, 1564).
Zimmerman, Leo M. and Ilza Veith, ‘Amroise Paré (1510-1590)’, Great ideas in the history of surgery (Baltimore, 1961), pp 179-192.
Text: Mr. Antoine Mac Gaoithín, Library Assistant at the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.
 Ellis, Harold, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Surgery, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2009), p. 46.
 Zimmerman, Leo M. and Ilza Veith, ‘Amroise Paré (1510-1590)’, Great ideas in the history of surgery (Baltimore, 1961), p. 179.
 Ibid., pp 179-180.
 Manring, M. M., et al., ‘Treatment of War Wounds: A Historical Review’, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Vol. 467, no. 8 (2009), 2176.