Anyone who talks about the lack of surgery in Europe during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is supremely ignorant of the real course of history at this time, and when in addition he attributes the failure of surgery to develop to a trumped-up opposition of the Church or ecclesiastics, he is simply making a ridiculous exhibition of intolerance and of foolish readiness to accept anything, however groundless, that may enable him to make out a case against the ecclesiastical authorities.

It is curious to reflect that in spite of all this wonderful progress in surgery, somehow there has crept in the tradition which has been very generally accepted by historians not acquainted with the details of medical history, that surgery was neglected during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The existence of this tradition, and its acceptance by men who had no idea that they were being influenced by that peculiar state of mind which considers that nothing good can come out of the Nazareth of the times before the reformation so-called, is of itself a warning with regard to the way history has been written, especially for the Teutonic and English-speaking peoples, that should carry weight in other departments of history beside medicine and surgery.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


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