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10 Portrait of a Surgeon in Fifteenth-Century England

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Chapter Summary

The late medieval period witnessed a passionate struggle by physicians and surgeons for the professionalization of medicine. Endeavouring to distinguish themselves from medieval Europe's "broader set of healers" and thereby establish themselves "as the highest rung of a hierarchy of practitioners", physicians and surgeons went to great lengths to elevate their status in the public eye. Adoption and reinforcement of the ideology of Christus Medicus was just one way in which elite medical practitioners attempted to enhance their reputations. Surgery was a marginalized field, in large part, because it "was carried out with the hands and with instruments, and not with ideas, words, and books. Fifteenth-century London witnessed attempts to create a joint college of physicians and surgeons, "with absolute control over the licensing and practice of all forms of medicine in the capital".

Keywords: Christus Medicus; late medieval period; London; physicians; surgeons



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