Military Surgery: 1300-1600
Caution, surgery operations are of two kinds, those which benefit the patient and those which usually kill him
By Jonathon Davies & Michael Harbinson
There are some excellent in-depth medieval surgery titles out there, such as
The Major Surgery of Guy De Chauliac, but for those who just want a quick, painless overview of the subject, there’s Davies and Harbinson’s Military Surgery: 1300-1600. At under $15, this punchy little pamphlet from Stuart Press, of Green Valley fame, weighs in at just 25 pages from title to bibliography.
What is there is excellent. It’s too short to go into great detail but that also means that there’s little waffle. Every sentence is an economical and useful slice through the topic.
There are brief descriptions of the various tools used by medieval surgeons, the various types of surgery that were performed, and the various types of wounds that a military surgeon might see. Burns, bruising and fractures are all covered.
Being focused on military surgery particularly, the kind of medical services available to soldiers is considered, and the type of wounds they sustained from the evolving weapons of the medieval battlefield. We follow the development of diagnosis and treatment as armour piercing infantry weapons, then firearms became commonplace.
This pamphlet is too basic for anyone already well studied in surgery or medieval military wounds, but it is an excellent primer. There’s no shortage of blood-curdling detail and grim realities of the horrors of medieval warfare for the curious, without gratuity.
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