In conclusion, we may say that, in the Middle Ages, once men had lifted themselves up from the condition into which they had been plunged by the incursions of the barbarians, there was nothing like the neglect of surgery which is sometimes said to have existed. Surgery had its normal development, and reached as high a stage as medicine in that beginning Renaissance, which is the characteristic feature of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. The traditions of a low state of surgery at this time are all false and founded on insufficient knowledge of the real conditions, which have been so clearly revealed to us by the investigation of original documents in the last twenty-five years.

This was, in fact, one of the greatest periods in the history of surgery that the world has ever known. Whatever of difficulty in development surgery encountered was due not to any Church opposition, but to unfortunate conditions that arose in the practice of medicine. Professional jealousy and shortsightedness was the main element in it. Even this, however, did not prevent the very wonderful development of surgery that came during the Middle Ages, and that made this department of human knowledge quite as progressive and successful as any other, in that marvelous period when the universities came into existence in the form which they have maintained ever since.

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


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