Surgery Beneath the Scholar’s Dignity

Hastings Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages I.4.6:

“It was the ordinary practice in the Italian Universities for a Medical Doctor to read the relative parts of this treatise while the Professor of Surgery performed the dissection and another Doctor pointed out to the students the various bones or muscles as they were named by the reader. By the Statutes of Florence food and wine and spices were to be provided to keep up the spirits of Professors and Students during this unwonted ordeal. The importance of Surgery in Italy as compared with its neglect in the Northern Universities is indicated by the different position occupied by its teachers. Not only was Surgery taught by Doctors of Medicine, but the latter were allowed to engage in surgical practice, an employment which was looked upon by the Doctors of Paris as a degrading manual craft, entirely beneath the dignity of a sage learned in all the wisdom of Aristotle and Galen.”

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