The reputation of the University of Paris is such that we should not expect her to be backward in this important department of education. As a matter of fact, there is abundant evidence of dissection having been carried on here at the end of the thirteenth century, and the practice was not interrupted at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Lanfranc, the famous surgeon who had studied with William of Salicet in Italy (we have already mentioned both of them and we shall have much to say of them hereafter), taught surgery from a very practical standpoint in Paris, and illustrated his teachings by means of dissections. Lanfranc was succeeded in Paris by Mondeville, whose name is also associated with the practice of dissection by most historians of medicine, and whose teaching was of such a practical character that there can be no doubt that he must have employed this valuable adjunct in his surgical training of students.

In general, however, the records of dissecting work and of anatomical development are not near so satisfactory at Paris as in the Italian universities. As is the case in our own day and has always been true, universities were inclined to specialties in the Middle Ages, and the specialty of Paris was Philosophy and Theology. This was choice, however, not compulsion, any more than similar conditions in our own time. The medical school continued to be in spite of this one of the best in the world, though it was not famous for its original work, except in surgery, which is, however, the subject most nearly related to anatomy and the one whose development would seem necessarily to demand attention to anatomy.

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


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