The Dark Ages
The Knights of St John
During the 12th and 13th centuries, orders of the knighthood came about to care for the sick.
The Knights of St John was formed during the crusades. They established there first hospital in Jerusalem and later founded one in Rhodes in 1311.
The hospitals of the middle ages were grand affairs that were specifically built to be hospitals as opposed to a place of worship where the sick and injured were treated.
The 14th century ushered in some amazing advances in surgery, due unfortunately to the use of guns in warfare; these were becoming more common in battle. Some amputations were closed with a skin flap instead of just being cauterised and sealed. Plastic surgery came into being as a result of these closure changes.
During the wars between the English and the French, the English devised an evacuation chain from France to England. On arrival in England, the wounded were discharged. It was a long way from today’s system where soldiers are treated and returned to duty, in those times it was seen as uneconomical to do so.
The image shows; Hospitallers Grand Master, Guillaume de Villiers or Guillaume de Clermont
defending the walls of Acre, Galilee, 1291. by Dominique-Louis Papéty (1815–1849) at Versailles.232
John of Ardene
One of the most famous English victories over the French during the hundred year’s war was the battle of Crecy in 1346. Crecy was the battle that highlighted the superiority of the English and Welsh long bowman over the vastly superior French forces. It was said that 1200 French knights alone died in the battle.
The first book by an English surgeon was written during this period; entitled De Arte Medicinal.
It was by John of Ardene who it is said, was the only English surgeon at Crecy 102 He has also be described as the first real English surgeon 103 and one of the great fathers of surgery.
John of Ardene also allegedly advocated the use of mandrake to relieve the pain associated with surgery, he apparently rubbed it on the soles of the feet. It is however not confirmed that mandrake was any use at all.
His view on fees was that rich men should be charged as much as possible, but poor men should be remedied free of charge. It was during this time that cannon were first used by the English, in 1347 at Calais.
King Edward III’s crushing English victory over the French; where the Black Prince won his spurs and acquired the emblem of the Three White Feathers. 104