Only those who are thoroughly and completely ignorant of the real status of medical teaching in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries continue to hold these absurd opinions as to the nullity of medieval medicine and surgery...While it is usually said that whatever teaching of science was done at medieval universities, was so entirely speculative or purely theoretic and so thoroughly impractical as not to be of any serious use for life and its problems, the utter falsity of such declarations can be seen from the fact that William of Salicet insisted on teaching medicine by clinical methods, always discussed cases with his students, and his medical and surgical works contain many case histories. This is just what pretentiously ignorant historians of medical education have often emphatically declared that medieval teachers did not do, but should have done, in the Middle Ages…Both Salicet and Lanfranc did their wonderful work in scientific medicine down in Italy where ecclesiastical influence was strongest. Italy continued to be for the next six centuries always the home of the best medical schools in the world, to which the most ardent students from all over the continent and even England went for the sake of the magnificent opportunities provided.

It was literally true, in spite of the tradition of Church opposition to medical science, that the nearer to Rome the university the better its medical school; and as we shall see, Rome itself had the best medical school in the world for two centuries, while its greatest rival, often ahead of it in scientific achievement, always its peer, was the medical school of Bologna in the Papal States, directly under the control of the Popes since the beginning of the sixteenth century.

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


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