The great French Father of Surgery [Guy de Chauliac]…has nothing whatever to say of the evil influence upon surgery of any Church regulations, though he must have been in a position to realize their significance very well in this respect if they actually had any. He was himself, as we have said, a member of the Papal household; he was even a cleric, and seems to have encountered no difficulty at all not only in devoting himself to surgery, but even in lifting up that department of medicine from the slough of neglect into which it had fallen because of the lack of initiative of preceding generations in his native land.

It may be wondered, then, how the tradition of opposition to surgery, which is so common in history, had its origin…It is the opposition of scientists, or pseudo-scientists, to scientific progress that constitutes the real bar to advance, and has over and over again been attributed to religious motives, when it is really due to that very human overconservatism, which so constantly places men in the position of opponents to novelties of any kind, no matter how much of value they may eventually prove to have. There has always existed a certain prejudice against surgery on the part of physicians–meaning by that term, for the moment, those who devote themselves to internal medicine. This feeling has never quite died out. There were times in the Middle Ages when it was very marked. Not a little of the feeling is due to professional jealousy, and that, it is to be feared, like the poor, we shall have always with us.

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


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