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'Because My Son Does Not Read Latin'. Rhetoric, Competition And Education In Middle Dutch Surgical Handbooks

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Chapter Summary

Two late medieval handbooks of surgery, written in Middle Dutch, are used here as sources for answering the question: which value did book-learning and formal education offer to non-academic late medieval surgeons. The authors, the Flemish surgeons Jan Yperman and Thomaes Scellinck van Thienen, probably both lacked a university education, and wrote in the vernacular. In their works, they employed the fiercest rhetoric possible against the empirics or lay surgeons. Their knowledge of surgery was much less than that of Yperman or Scellinck, and accordingly, the variety in their remedies was very poor. Therefore, the lay surgeons' results were bad, and it was shameful and a disgrace that they could actually practice the way they did. Furthermore, lay surgeons were not hampered by academic scrupules in claiming the most fantastic cures, which may have benefited their business on the competitive medical market of the late Middle Ages.

Keywords: education; Jan Yperman; lay surgeons; Middle Dutch; rhetoric; Thomaes Scellinck



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