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+ y C 


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9v tfie dame satttlior* 

Fardhatn University Press Series. 

Makkrs op Modbrn Mbdicinb. Lives of the 
dozen men to whom nineteenth century 
medical science owes most. Cloth, octavo, 
362 pp., ¥Kth portrait of Pasteur. Ford- 
ham University Press, New York, 1907. 
$2.00, net. 

Makbrs op BI.SCTRICITY. Brother Potamian 
and Walsh, in press. Issued October, 

Old-tims Makers op Mbdicink in prepara- 
tion, to be issued March, 1909. 

Makers op Astronomy to be issued Octo- 
ber, 1909. 

Other Publicaiums. 

Thb Thirtbbnth Orbatbst op Centuries. 
The story of the rise of the universities 
and of the origin of modem art, letters, 
science, liberty and democracy in a sin- 
gle century . Cloth , octavo, 450 pp. , fifteen 
illustrations. Catholic Summer School 
Press. N. Y., 1907. $2.50, net. 

Cathoi^ic Churchmen in Science. Lives of 
seven founders in physical science who 
were Churchmen. Cloth, gilt top, with 
portraits. The Dolphin Press, Philadel- 
phia, 1906. $1.00, net. 


series, containing the lives of Albertus 
Magnus, Roger Bacon, St. Thomas Aqui- 
nas, Pope John XXI., Jesuit Astronomers, 
Clerical Pioneers in Electricity, Father 
Piazzi, and Father Wasmann, S. J. (In 

In Collaboration, 
0'Mai«ley and Wai^h. Essays on Pastoral 
Medicine . Longmans, Green & Co . , N . Y . , 
1906. $2.50, net. 

The Popes and Science 





James J. Walsh, M. D., Ph. D., LL.D. 








THENL.'.^' voRK 


R 190o L 

^ifia ^tMttot: 


Censor deputatus. 

3iiijprtoattir : 

•• :• • 

'•; .'•- 

•••••••• • 


Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis, 

Copyright, 1908. 

jambs j. wai^sh. 

All rights reserved. 


to pope pius x. 

Your Holiness : 

It is with very great pleasure that I avail myself 
of the permission obtained for me by my good friend 
Archbishop Farley, of New York, to dedicate this volume 
to Your Holiness. Four years ago, when I had the 
privilege of an audience. Your Holiness spoke very 
earnestly of the Apostolate of the press and of the 
lecture platform. The words impressed me profoundly 
and have often recurred to my mind. They led me 
to devote much of my time during these years to the 
study and publication of the records of the Papal rela- 
tions to science and education. I am now very glad to 
be able to lay at the feet of Your Holiness a volume 
which sets the attitude of the Popes to Science in an 
entirely different light from that in which it is usually 
placed by English-speaking historians at least. I am 
sorry that the cause of the Church and of the Popes has 
not fallen to better hands. I willingly assume all the 
responsibility for any misstatements that may have 
crept into the treatment for the first time of so large a 
subject, and only hope that the truth, which I have 
found so different from what I had been led to beliBve, 
may redound to the glory of Holy Mother Church and 
the universal appreciation of the beneficent mission 
of the Vicar of Christ upon earth. This shall not be 
the last volume of this kind, God willing, and I hope 
always to remain. 

Your Holiness' humble and obedient servant, 

James J. Walsh. 
Our Lady's Day, 


"Great additions have of late been made to our 
knowledge of the past ; the long conspiracy against the 
revelation of truth has gradually given way, and com- 
peting historians all over the civilized world have been 
zealous to take advantage of the change. The printing 
of archives has kept pace with the admission of en- 
quirers ; and the total mass of new matter, which the 
last half -century has accumulated, amounts to many 
thousands of volumes. In view of changes and of gains 
such as these, it has become impossible for the histori- 
cal writer of the present age to trust without reserve 
even to the most respected secondary authorities. The 
honest student finds himself continually deserted, re- 
tarded, misled by the classics of historical literature, 
and has to hew his own way through multitudinous 
transactions, periodicals and ofiicial publications in order 
to reach the truth. 

"Ultimate history cannot be obtained in this genera- 
tion ; but, so far as documentary evidence is at com- 
mand, conventional history can be discarded, and the 
point can be shown that has been reached on the road 
from one to the other.'' (Preface of Cambridge Mod- 
ern History.) 


For years, as a student and physician, I listened to 
remarks from teachers and professional friends as to 
the opposition of the Popes to science, until finally, 
much against my will, I came to believe that there had 
been many Papd documents issued, which intentionally 
or otherwise hampered the progress of science. Inter- 
est in the history of medicine led me to investigate tiie 
subject for myself. To my surprise, I found that the 
supposed Papal opposition to science was practically all 
founded on an exaggeration of the signincance of the 
Galileo incident As a matter of history, the Popes 
were as liberal patrons of science as of art In the 
Renaissance period, when their patronage of Raphael 
and Michel Angelo and other great artists did so much 
for art, similar relations to Columbus, Eustachius, and 
CsBsalpinus, and later to Steno and Malpighi, our great- 
est medical discoverers, had like results for science. The 
Papal Medical School was for centuries the greatest 
medical school in Europe, and its professors were the 
most distinguished medical scientists of the time. This 
is a perfectly simple bit of history that anyone may find 
for himself in any reliable history of medicine. The 
medical schools were the scientific departments of the 
universities practically down to the nineteenth century. 
In them were studied botany, zoology and the biological 
sciences generally, chemistry, physics, mineraJogy and 
even astronomy, because of the belief that the stars in- 
fluenced hmnan constitutions. The Popes in fostering 
medical schools (there were four of them in the Papd 
dominions, and two of them, Bologna and Rome, were 
the greatest medical schools for several centuries) were 
acting as wise and beneficent patrons of science. Many 
of the greatest scientists of the Middle Ages were 
clergymen. Some of the greatest of them were canon- 
ized as saints. Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas 
are typical examples. At least one Pope had been a 
distinguished scientist before being elected to the 
Papacy. For seven centuries the Popes selected as 
their physicians the greatest medical scientists of the 


time, and the list of Papal physicians is the worthiest 
series of names connected by any bond in the history of 
medicine, far surpassing in scientific import even the 
roll of the faculty of any medical school. 

In a word, I failed to find any trace of Papal opposi- 
tion to true science in any form. On the contrary, I 
found abundant evidence of their having been just 
as liberal and judicious patrons of science as they were 
of art and education in all forms. I foimd also that 
those who write most emphatically about Papal opposi- 
tion to science, know nothing at all of the history 
of science, and above all of medicine and of surgery, 
during three very precious centuries. Because they 
know nothing about it they think there was none, and 
go out of their way to find a reason for its absence, 
while all the time there is a wondrous series of chapters 
of science for those who care to look for them. This is 
the story that I have tried to tell in this book. 

This material is, I think, gathered into compact form 
for the first time. No one knows better than I do how 
many defects are probably in the volume. What I have 
tried to do is to present a large subject in a popular 
way, and at the same time with such references to 
readily available authorities as would make the collec- 
tion of further information comparatively easy. I am 
sorry that the book has had to take on a controversial 
tone. No one feels more than I do that controversy 
seldom advances truth. There are certain false notions, 
however, which have the prestige of prominent names 
behind them, which simply must be flatly contradicted. 
I did not seek the controversy, for when I began to 
publish the original documents in the subject I men- 
tioned no names. Controversy was forced on me, but 
not imtil I had made it a point to meet and spend many 
pleasant hours with the writer whose statements I must 
mipugn, because they so flagrantly contradict the simple 
facts of medical history. 



May Catholics dissect ? Supposed prohibition of dissection. Twenty 
medical schools in Catholic Europe. Medieval universities and 
medical education. Allbutt on medicine down to the sixteenth cen- 
tury. William of Salicet and Lanfranc, the great medieval surgeons. 
The nearer to Rome the better the medical school. The state of 
medical teaching and discovery. The relation of the Popes to medi- 
cal progress. Supposed Papal prohibitions. Ignorance of medieval 
medicine the reason for misrepresentation. The Popes did not 
hamper medicine nor any other science. Galileo's case an incident, 
not the index of a policy. The Papal Medical School the greatest in 
the world. The Papal Physicians leaders in science. The Church 
did for science as much as for art and literature. History a con- 
spiracy against the truth. (Cambridge Modern History.) 1 


A new Catholic medical school and dissection. Supposed Papal 
prohibitions of anatomy and of chemistry. The bull of Pope Boni- 
face VIII., De Sepulturis. Reason for the bull. Supposed misinter- 
pretation. Misuse of word infallibility. Some history of dissection. 
Date of bull important in history. Mondino's work. Body-snatch- 
ing. Dissections elsewhere. How Mondino prepared his bodies for 
dissection. Guy de Chauliac at Bologna sees many dissections. 
Mondino*s assistants, Otto and Alessandra. Papal permissions to 
dissect. The Church granting anatomical privileges where civil 
authorities refused. How the tradition of this Papal prohibition 
originated. M. Daunou as an authority. Reply of Pope Benedict 
XIV. as to bull. This subject a type of certain kinds of history. . 28 


Presumed failure of anatomy during the Middle Ages a mjrth. 

Famous Law of Frederick II. Dissections at Salerno. Taddeo and 

aaatomj. Salicet and Lanfranc. A famous medico-legal autopsy. 



Mondino in the history of anatomy. Roth's story of dissection. Guy , 

de Chauliac's experience at Bologna. The story of dissection dnring 
the fourteenth century without a break. Continued in next century. 
The work of Berengar of Carpi, Achillini, Matthew of Gradi. Path- 
ological anatomy born with Benivieni. Pres. White's attitude to 
the evidence for dissection at this time 61 


The golden age of anatomy as of letters and art in Italy. Not 
origin, but wonderful development. Great predecessors of Raphael 
and Michel Angelo, as of Vesalius and Columbus. Legitimate culmi- 
nation of anatomical development. The pre-Vesalians, Mondino, 
Bertrucci, Chauliac, Achillini, Berengar and Benivieni. The English 
students, Linacre, Cains, Phreas. Italy the Mecca of anatomical in- 
vestigators. Harvey and Steno. Graduate work in Italy then as in 
Germany now. Vesalius *s career. The University of Louvain. 
Vesalius in Paris, in Italy. The Father of Modern Anatomy. Royal 
Physician to Charles V. Some historical misconstructions. What 
the Popes did for anatomy in the sixteenth century 90 


False impression prevalent just as in anatomy. Striking similar- 
ity of history -lie. American writers. The Papal decree. Its pur- 
pose. The gold -brick industry. Fines to be distributed to the poor. 
Pope John's bull , Super Illius specula. Appeal to historians of 
chemistry. Chemistry in later Middle Ages. Albertus Magnus, 
Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Ra3rmondLully, Arnold of Villanova, 
the two Hollanduses, Basil Valentine, Paracelsus and his ecclesias- 
tical teachers. Pope John XXII. a patron of science and of 
education 120 


Pope John XXII. distinguished for his administrative abilities, his 
learning and his abstemiousness. Avarice and the Papal revenues. 
Educational foundations from Papal revenues. Modern educators and 
this old-time patron of education. All great Popes subject of slander. 
The personality of Pope John XXII. Pres. White's astonish- 
ing declarations as to the bull Super Illius specula. Pope John 
XXII. "a kindly and rational scholar." His bull for the University 



of Pemgia. Perugia and the history of cultare. Standards in edu- 
cation. Seven years for the doctorate in medicine. Foundation of 
tbe University of Cahors. Modem requirements. Why the Pope 
favored' edu c ation 158 



Mistaken notions as to medieval surgery. Supposed Church dis- 
couragement of surgery. Misinterpreted ecclesiastical documents 
OQoe more. Gurlt on surgery during the Middle Ages. Wonderful 
developments of surgery, when ignorantly said not to exist. Allbutt 
and Pagel on the great surgeons of the Middle Ages. Salicet. Lan- 
franc. Surprising anticipations of modem surgery. Mondeville. 
Surgical common sense. Yperman. Illustrations of surgical instru- 
ments. Hydrophobia. Chauliac the Father of Modern Surgery. 
Place in surgery. Chamberlain of the Pope. Technics of surgery. 
Chauliac*s career. Ardqra, the English surgeon. His works. False 
impressions with regard to surgical history. Professional jealousy 
not ecclesiastical persecution. The college of St. C6me and itd 
lessons. False traditions as to the Church and surgery and their 
meaning 167 


Papal Medical School at Rome since 1300. Supported by revenues 
from Popes at Avignon. Previous Papal relations to medicine. 
Monte Cassino and Salerno. Pope Sylvester II. and medicine. 
Medical schools and the ecclesiastical authorities. A great physician 
made Pope. The Renaissance and the re-established Papal Medical 
School. Columbus original discoverer and practical teacher. At- 
tendance at his lessons. His book dedicated to Pope. Other medical 
dedications to Popes. Eustachius's work. Piccolomini as a great 
teacher. Caesalpinus the probable discoverer of the circulation of 
the blood. Father Kircher's work at Rome. Malpighi the Father 
of Comparative Anatomy. Tozzi the best teacher of his time. 
Lancisi as a founder in clinical medicine. On Sudden Death. Mor- 
gagni's place as an adviser. Bologna in the Papal dominions. 
Medical schools at Ferrara and Perugia. Protestant traditions with 
regard to the Popes and medicine 222 



Belief in miracles and progress in medicine. Prayer and healing. 
The men the Popes chose as their medical advisers. Names greater 
than those of the medical faculty of any university. Guy of Mont- 
pelier, Richard the Englishman, Pope John XXI., Simon Januensia 
and the first medical dictionary. Arnold of Villanova. Guy de 
Chauliac. Cecco di Ascolo. Joannes de Tornamira. Francis of 
Siena. Baverius of Imola. John de Vigo. Columbus. Eustachina. 
Varolius. Piccolomini. Caesalpinus. Malpighi. Tozzi. Lancisi. 
Morgagni. Contributions to the biological sciences from Papa] 
Physicians 199 


Pope Innocent III., the Father of City Hospitals. Santo Spirito 
at Rome. Virchow on the effect of this in Germany. French hos- 
pitals and the Hotel Dieu. English hospitals. The five royal hos- 
pitals. Virchow's tribute to Pope Innocent III. Hospital regulation 
Care for the poor. Longings of patients. Religious nurses and 
modern nursing. Virchow's opinion. Contemporaries on hospital 
accomplishment. Magnificent hospital building. Models for all 
future time. A modem achitect's opinion. Hospital decoration. 
Siena Hospital. Hospital abuses. Problem of malingerers. Leper 
hospitals. The eradication of leprosy. Lesson for our generation as 
to tuberculosis. Special hospitals for erysipelas. Benefit of segre- 
gation. The religious dress and its anticipation of aseptic needs. 
Hospitals ruined when taken from the Church and the religious.. 248 


The doubting mood so important for science supposed to preclude 
faith. Most great scientists Catholics. Francis Bacon, the supposed 
Father of Inductive Science. Only the popularizer of the ex- 
perimental method. Bacon and Copernicus. Gilbert of Colchester 
before Bacon. Friar Bacon on the experimental method. Peregrinus 
and the value of experiments. Bacon's four grounds of human 
ignorance Bacon's great teacher, Albertus Magnus, and the ex- 
perimental method. Christian tradition as to scientific inquiry as 
begun by Augustine. Albert's place in the history of inductive sci- 
ence. Interest of the Middle Ages in physical science 281 




The Popes and the medieval universities. What the scholastic 
philosophers did for science. Scientific teaching at the early uni- 
versities. "Foundations of knowledge for Galileo, Harvey, New- 
ton and Darwin.*' (Allbutt.) Magnetics. Philosopher's stone and 
the transmutation of metals. Constitution of matter. Matter and 
form. Indestructibility of matter. Conservation of energy. Albertus 
Magnus on the antipodes. Humboldt's appreciation of Albert. Al- 
bert's scientific accomplishments. Astronomy, botany, geography 
and biological sciences. Roger Bacon and explosives ; achievements 
in optics and astronomy. Aquinas and chemistry. The relations 
of these men to the Popes. Bacon's difficulties. Medieval accom- 
plishments in applied science. Scientific applications in medieval 
cities (Kropotkin). Decadence in science after Middle Ages. The 
place of the reformation so-called. The first encyclopedia. Vincent 
of Beauvais and interest in his work. Thomas of Cantimprato and 
Bartholomseus Anglicns. Craving for information in natural 
science 302 


Dante a type of the medieval university student. His knowledge 
a proof of how he was taught. Dante as a student of nature. Rus- 
kin's opinion. Trobridge's suggestions. Dante's early education. 
Azarias and Kropotkin on the public schools of Florence and Nurem- 
berg. Kuhns on Dante's science. Optics. Astronomy. Humboldt's 
praise of Dante's scientific knowledge. Dante the observer, phos- 
phorescence, flies, bees and ants. Dante knew more science than 
any modern poet. His contribution to the science of education.. 340 


Disease and supernatural agency. Denial of disease. Scientists 
and spiritualism. Reaction in recent years. Anticipations in 
psychiatry. Supposed evolution of treatment of the mentally dis- 
eased. Medieval care of the insane. Psychopathic wards in hos- 
pitals. The open door treatment. After-care of the insane. The 
colony system. Religious suggestion and cure— ancient and modem. 
Prayer and mental disease. Care of the insane at Gheel. Neglect 


of insane not ezclusiyely medieval. Milder measures quite modem. 
Spiritual agencies in life. Alfred Russell Wallace, Sir William 
Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Prof. Charles Richet, lAMnbroso 363 



The Popes as patrons of scientific education. Swift on genius and 
assinine opposition. Allston on truth in unusual form. "Nonsense" 
and ' 'absurd' ' on scientists' tongues. Jordan on human conservatism. 
Galileo's letter to Kepler, on "logic" and science. Huxley on Gal* 
ileo. De Morgan on other cases. Dogmatism and folly . Persecutiofli 
of scientists. Harvey, Vesalius, Servetus, Steno. Not confined to 
old times, Jenner, Auenbrugger, Laennec, Thomas Young, Oliver 
Wendell Holmes, Semmelweiss. Opposition in other sciences. Ohm, 
Young men and discoveries. Pasteur and rabies. Our universities 
and economics. Conservatism still active. The lesson 390 



De Sepulturis. De Critmne Falsi, Suffer Illius specula. Bulls 
for erection of Universities of Perugia and Cahors 413 


Emperor Frederick's Law Regulating the Practice of Medicine 
(1231) 419 


When, some years ago, the announcement of the 
prospective opening ol the medical school at Pordham 
University, New York City, was made, the preliminary 
faculty were rather astonished to find that a number of 
intelligent physicians expressed surprise that there 
should be any question of the establishment of a med- 
ical school in connection with a Catholic institution of 
learning, since, as they understood, the Church forbade 
the practice of dissection, and in general was distinctly 
imfavorable to the development of medical science. 
Most of us had already known of the false persuasion 
existing in some minds, that by a Papal decree the prac- 
tice of dissection had been forbidden during the Middle 
Ages, but it was hard to understand how men should 
think, in this day of general information, that Catholics 
were not free to pursue the study of any true science, 
and above all medical science, without let or hindrance 
from ecclesiastical authorities. In a word, though we 
live in what we are pleased to call an enlightened age 
with the schoolmaster abroad in the land, as is so 
proudly proclaimed, we encountered the most childish 
simplicity of belief in a number of old-time prejudices 
as to the position of the Church with regard to the 
study of science. 

We found such a curious state of positive ignorance 
and such an erroneous, pretentious knowledge with re- 
gard to the supposed attitude of the Church to medicine 
especially, that we realized that the first thing that the 



new medical department would have to do would be to 
set about correcting authoritatively the false notions 
which existed with regard to the Popes and medical 
science. Most of the misinformation in this matter in 
American minds, we soon found, had its origin in Dr. 
Andrew D. White's volumes, "On the History of the 
Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.'' It 
is impossible for anyone to read Dr. White's chapter on 
from Miracles to Medicine in this work without coming 
to the conclusion that the constant policy of the Church 
for all the centuries down practically to our own time 
was to prevent the progress of medicine as far as pos- 
sible. The reason for this policy, presumably, must be 
taken to be that it was to the interest of the ecclesias- 
tics to have people apply to them for healing. Sufferers 
were to look to miracles rather than to drugs for their 
relief from ailments of any and every kind. Prayers 
were to be considered as much more efficacious than 
powders, and Masses much more likely to do good than 
the most careful nursing. These ecclesiastical offices 
had to be paid for. Accordingly, people had to be dis- 
couraged from appljring to physicians, medical schools 
were kept under an ecclesiastical ban, "dissection was 
prohibited," anatomy declared "a sin against the Holy 
Ghost," " chemistry forbidden under the severest pen- 
alties," "the medieval miracles of healing checked 
medical science," "the practice of surgery was rele- 
gated mainly to the lowest orders of practitioners and 
confined strictly to them," "as the grasp of theology 
upon education tightened, medicine declined," and every 
possible means was employed to keep the popular mind 
in subjection to the clergy, and to prevent physicians 
from getting so much knowledge as would enable them 


to help free the people from the bondage of superstition, 
of which they were the victims and the slaves. 

We do not think that we exaggerate the impression 
likely to be obtained from Dr. White's book in stating 
the ordinarily accepted opinions thus baldly, and as a 
matter of fact, as the quotation marks are intended to 
show, most of the strongest phrases that we have used 
are Dr. White's own. For those who can take such 
statements in good faith, it must be a very genuine sur- 
prise to learn a few facts from the history of medicine 
in the Middle Ages. Before the beginning of the six- 
teenth century, that is, before the religious revolt in 
Germany, which has been dignified by the name of ref- 
ormation, altogether some twenty medical schools were 
founded in various parts of Europe. Of these, the best 
known in the order of their foundation were Salerno, 
Bologna, Naples, Montpelier, Paris, Padua and Pisa. 
Excellent schools, however, were established also at Ox- 
ford, Rome, Salamanca, Orleans and Coimbra. Even 
early in the fourteenth century such unimportant towns 
as Perugia, Cahors and Lerida had medical schools. 
These schools were usually established in connection 
with the universities. It was realized that this would 
make the teaching of medicine more serious and keep 
the practical side of medicine from obscuring too much 
the scientific and cultural aspects of the medical train- 
ing. In modem times in America we made the mistake 
of having our medical schools independent of universi- 
ties, but with the advance in education and culture we 
have come to imitate the custom of the thirteenth and 
the fourteenth century in this regard. 

The universities, as is well known, were the outgrowth 
of cathedral schools. Practically all those in authority 


in them, by far the greater number of teachers and 
most of the pupils, were of the clerical order, that is, 
had assumed some ecclesiastical obligations and were 
considered to be churchmen. At these universities, if 
we can trust the example of England as applicable to 
the Continent also, there were, according to trust- 
worthy, conservative statistics, more students in attend- 
ance in proportion to the population than there has been 
at any period since, or than there are even at the pres- 
ent time in the twentieth century in any country of the 
civilized world. From this we can readily appreciate 
the enthusiastic ardor of those seeking education. Of 
these large numbers, the medical schools had their due 

Of course it will be said at once that though there 
were medical schools and medical professors and stu- 
dents, what was taught and studied at this time was so 
far distant from anything like practical knowledge of 
medicine, that it does not tell against the argument that 
medical education was practically non-existent. Some 
people will perhaps harbor the thought, if they do not 
frankly express it, that very probably these schools 
were organized under ecclesiastical authority, only in 
order to enable the Church and the clergy to maintain 
their control of medical education and keep the people 
from knowledge that might prove dangerous to Church 
authority. They were thus able to satisfy some of men's 
cravings for information in these matters, and yet pre- 
vent them from making such advances as would endan- 
ger the Church's policy of having them apply for pray- 
ers and Masses rather than for more physical remedies, 

^ This subject of the attendance at the universities of the Middle A^es is discussed, 
and authorities quoted, in my book "The Thirteenth. Greatest of Centuries." pub- 
lished bj the Catholic Summer School Press, N. T. 



except possibly for certain minor ailments. We do not 
doubt that there are many educated people who would 
be quite satisfied to accept this as a complete explana- 
tion of the situation in medical education at the medieval 
universities. Those who have read Dr. White's "His- 
tory of the Warfare of Theology with Science'* and 
have placed any faith in his really amusing excursions 
into a realm of which apparently he knows nothing— 
the history of medicine— must believe something like 
this. For them a little glance at even a few of the real- 
ities of medical teaching in the thirteenth century will 
show at once what a castle of the imagination they have 
been living in. 

Only those who are thoroughly and completely igno- 
rant of the real status of medical teaching in the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries continue to hold these 
absurd opinions as to the nullity of medieval medicine 
and surgery. The reading of a single short recent con- 
tribution to medical history, the address of Professor 
Clifford AUbutt, Regius Professor of Physic at the Uni- 
versity of Cambridge, England, before the Congress of 
Arts and Sciences at the Exposition held in St. Louis in 
1904, "On the Historical Relations of Medicine and Sur- 
gery down to the Sixteenth Century," would suffice to 
eradicate completely such traditional errors. He pointed 
out some surprising anticipations of what is most mod- 
em in medicine and surgery in the teachings of William 
of Salicet and his pupil Lanfranc, Professors of Medi- 
cine and Surgery in the Italian Universities and in Paris 
during the thirteenth century. As these two professors 
were the most distinguished teachers of surgery of the 
period and the acknowledged leaders of thought in their 
time, their teaching may fairly be taken as representa- 


tive of the curricula of medieval medical schools. Will- 
iam of Salicet, according to Professor Allbutt, taught 
that dropsy was due to a hardening of the kidneys ; 
durities renum are his exact words. He insisted on the 
danger of wounds of the neck. He taught the suture 
of divided nerves and gave explicit directions how to 
find the severed ends. He made a special study of sup- 
purative disease of the hip and taught many practical 
things with regard to it He taught, though this is a 
bit of knowledge supposed to come three centuries later 
into medicine and history, the true origin of chancre 
and phagedena. Most surprising of all, however, re- 
mains. William substituted the use of the knife for the 
-abuse of the cautery, which had been introduced by the 
Arabs because they feared hemorrhage, and he insisted 
that hemorrhage could be controlled by proper means 
without searing the tissues, and that the wounds made 
by the knife healed ever so much more kindly and with 
less danger to the patient. In the matter of wound 
healing, he investigated the causes of the failure of 
healing by first intention, and expressed on this subject 
some marvelous ideas that are supposed to be of late 
nineteenth century origin. 

While it is usually said that whatever teaching of 
science was done at medieval universities, was so en- 
tirely speculative or purely theoretic and so thoroughly 
impractical as not to be of any serious use for life and 
its problems, the utter falsity of such declarations can 
be seen from the fact that William of Salicet insisted on 
teaching medicine by clinical methods, always discussed 
cases with his students, and his medical and surgical 
works contain many case histories. This is just what 
pretentiously ignorant historians of medical education 



have often emphatically declared that medieval teach- 
ers did not do, but should have done, in the Middle 
Ages. It is not surprising then to find that William 
himself, and his great pupil Lanfranc, insisted on the 
utter inadvisability of separating medicine and surgery 
in such a way that the physician would not have the op- 
portunity to be present at operations, and thus gain 
more definite knowledge about the actual conditions of 
various organs which he had tried to investigate from 
the surface of the body. It is a very curious coincidence 
that both the Regius Professors of Physic in England at 
the present time, our own Professor Osier, now at Ox- 
ford, as well as his colleague, Professor Allbutt, of Cam- 
bridge, have within the last five years emphasized this 
same idea in almost the very words which were used by 
William and Lanfranc nearly seven hundred years ago. 
Lanfranc went even beyond his master in practical 
applications of important scientific principles to medi- 
cine and surgery. He added to the means of controlling 
hemorrhage. In arterial hemorrhage he suggested dig- 
ital compression for an hour, or in severe cases ligature. 
His master had studied wounds of the neck. Lanfranc 
has a magnificent chapter on injuries of the head, which 
Professor Allbutt does not hesitate to call one of the 
classics of surgery. Lanfranc was thoroughly appre- 
ciated by his contemporaries. After years of study and 
teaching in Italy he was invited to Paris, where he be- 
came one of the lights of that great university. Both 
Salicet and Lanfranc did their wonderful work in scien- 
tific medicine down in Italy where ecclesiastical influ- 
ence was strongest. Italy continued to be for the next 
six centuries always the home of the best medical schools 
in the world, to which the most ardent students from 


all over the continent and even England went for the 
sake of the magnificent opportunities provided. It was 
literally true, in spite of the tradition of Church opposi- 
tion to medical science, that the nearer to Rome the uni- 
versity the better its medical school ; and as we shall 
see, Rome itself had the best medical school in the world 
for two centuries, while its greatest rival, often ahead 
of it in scientific achievement, always its peer, was the 
medical school of Bologna in the Papal States, directly 
under the control of the Popes since the beginning of 
the sixteenth century. 

Dr. White has said just the opposite of this in a well- 
known passage of his book, in which he assures his 
readers that "in proportion as the grasp of theology 
upon education tightened, medicine declined ; and in 
proportion as that grasp relaxed, medicine has been de- 
veloped.'* The reason for such a statement is that he 
knew nothing about the history of medicine and surgery 
in these medieval centuries and thought there was none. 
This is a characteristic example of his mode of writing 
the History of the (Supposed) Warfare of Theology with 
Science in Christendom. This much will give some idea 
of the value of his book as a work of reference. 

After knowing something of these wonderful develop- 
ments of medieval medical science, it is to be hoped that 
no one will listen hereafter to the ignorant assertions of 
those who talk of the suppression of medical knowledge 
at this time. WiUiam of Salicet and Lavfranc were both 
of them clerics, that is, they belonged to the ecclesias- 
tical body and had taken minor orders, though they were 
not priests, as priests were for obvious reasons not al- 
lowed to do surgical operations, it being as repugnant 
to human feelings in the Middle Ages as it is now, that 


the messenger of Divine Mercy should handle the knife 
and spill blood, or that the pastor of souls should come 
straight from the operating room to bring consolation 
to the afflicted and the dying. 

Much more might be said about the wonderful med- 
ical teaching of the thirteenth century. The men who 
made the universities what they have continued to be 
down to the present time, had open minds for any gjreat 
advances that might come. Accordingly, when the his- 
tories of anesthesia tell us that there was a form of 
anesthesia introduced during the thirteenth century by 
Ugo da Lucca, and that even some method of inhalation 
was employed for this purpose, it will be a surprise only 
to those who have never properly realized all that our 
educational forefathers of the early university days suc- 
ceeded in accomplishing. 

Down at Montpelier, Gilbert the Englishman taught 
that small-pox patients should be treated in rooms with 
red hangings, red curtains being especially advised for 
the doors and windows. This is what Finsen re-discov- 
ered in the nineteenth century, and for it was given the 
Nobel prize in the twentieth century. He found that 
small-pox patients suffered much less, that their fever 
was shorter, and that the after effects were much less 
marked when only red light was admitted to them. One 
may well ask what drugs did they employ, and perhaps 
conclude that because they knew very little of drugs, 
therefore they knew little of medicine. It is in the use 
of drugs, however, that medicine has always been at its 
weakest, and we scarcely need Oliver Wendel Holmes's 
declaration, that if all the drugs men used up to his time 
had been thrown into the sea, they would be better 
rather than worse off for it ; nor Professor Osier's many 


emphatic protests with regard to our ignorance of drugs, 
to make the world of the present day realize that a gen- 
eration's use of them as a test would tell quite as se- 
verely against the eighteenth or the nineteenth century, 
as against the thirteenth or the fourteenth. They did 
use opium, however, the drug having been introduced 
into general practice, it is said, by a distinguished Papal 
physician, Simon Januensis. Mandrake was employed, 
and has not as yet gone entirely out of use. Various 
herbal decoctions were employed, and though these were 
used entirely on empiric grounds, some at least of them 
have continued in use with no better reason for their 
employment during most of the centuries since. 

The relation of the Popes to these advances in medi- 
cine may be best appreciated from the interest which 
they took in the hospitals. It was only in hospitals that 
cases could be properly studied, and the medieval hos- 
pitals were conducted with very nearly the same rela- 
tions to the universities of that time as those that exist 
at the present day. In the chapter on the Foundation 
of City Hospitals we show that these institutions are all, 
as Virchow, who is surely an authority above suspicion 
in any matter relating to the Popes has declared, due to 
one great Pope. This is the best possible demonstration 
of supreme humanitarian interest in human ills, and 
their treatment. Innocent III., as we shall see, at the 
beginning of the thirteenth century summoned Guy from 
Montpelier, where he had been trained in the care of 
patients, and where the greatest medical school of the 
time existed, to come to Rome and organize the Hospital 
of the Holy Ghost in the Papal City, which was to be a 
model for hospitals of the same kind in every diocese 
throughout the Christian world. Literally hundreds of 


these hospitals were founded during the thirteenth cen- 
tury as the result of this initiative. Patients were not 
left to die, with only the hope of prayers to relieve their 
sufferings, but they were cared for as skilfully as the 
rising science of the time knew how and with the ten- 
derness that religious care has always been able to give. 
For added consolation in the midst of their sufferings 
and as a fortifier against the thought of death, they had 
religion and all its beautiful influences, for which even 
Virchow, himself utterly unbelieving, cannot suppress a 

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Uni- 
versity of the City of Rome was founded by Pope Boni- 
face VIII. Only a year or two later the Popes removed 
their capital to Avignon. It has often been thought 
that, because of this removal of the Papal capital, this 
University of the City never came into existence ; but 
we have definite records of salaries paid out of the Papal 
revenues to professors of law and medicine about the 
end of the first quarter of the fourteenth century. 

Down in the South of Prance, at Avignon itself, the 
Popes had for one of their chamberlains the famous Guy 
de Chauliac, who is always spoken of as the Father of 
Modem Surgery. One of the Popes of the Avignon 
period founded the College of Twelve Physicians at 
Montpelier, the foundation being sufficient to support 
twelve medical students, and by adding the prestige of 
the Pope's patronage to the reputation of the University, 
greatly encouraged attendance at it. 

Another of the Popes of the Avignon period, Pope 
John XXII., who is said by President White to have been 
most bitter in opposition to every form of science, actu- 
ally helped in the foundation of two medical schools. 


One of these was at Cahors, his birthplace, and the 
other was at Perugia, at that time in the Papal States. 
In founding the medical school at Perugia, Pope John 
insisted that its standards must be as high as those of 
Paris and Bologna, and required that the first teachers 
there should be graduates from Paris or Bologna, where 
were the two greatest medical schools of the time. 
Seven years of study, three in the undergraduate de- 
partment and four in the graduate schools, were to be 
required, according to this bull of foundation (given in full 
in the appendix), before the degree of Doctor of Medi- 
cine could be conferred. If it is recalled that this stand- 
ard of three years of undergraduate work and four in 
the graduate school, or at least of seven years of Uni- 
versity work, is the ideal toward which our universities 
are struggling, and, it must be said, not with the entire 
success we would like, at the beginning of the twentieth 
century, then, it is surprising to think that the presi- 
dent of a modem university, deeply interested in educa- 
tion in all its features and himself a professor of history, 
should know so little of, and be so lacking in sympathy 
with these men who laid the deep foundations of our 
modem education. 

Perhaps the most striking feature of the relation of 
the Popes to medicine remains to be mentioned. If they 
really were the bitter opponents of things medical that 
Dr. White would have us believe, then we should expect 
that either there were no such officials as Papal physi- 
cians, or else that the men who occupied these posts 
were the veriest charlatans, who knew very little of 
medicine, and certainly did nothing to develop the 
science. As a matter of fact, there is no list of physi- 
cians connected by any common bond in history who are 


80 gloriously representative of scientific progress in med- 
icine as the Papal physicians. The faculty of no medical 
school presents such a list of great names as those of the 
men who were chosen to be the official medical attend- 
ants of the Popes, and who were thus given a position 
of prominence where their discoveries in medicine had a 
vogue they otherwise could not have attained. The list 
of the Royal physicians of any reigning house of Europe 
for the last seven centuries looks trivial beside the roll 
of Papal physicians. Could the Popes possibly have 
done anything more than this for medicine, or shown 
their interest in its progress, or made people realize 
better, that while prayer might be of service, every pos- 
sible himian means must be taken to secure, maintain 
and recover health. 

To read even the headings of Dr. White's chapter on 
from Miracles to Medicine, in which he tells of how 
*'the medieval miracles of healing checked medical 
science,'* how "pastoral medicine held back scientific 
effort, '* how ' ' there was so much theological discourage- 
ment of medicine, '* and finally, how ** the study of Anat- 
omy was considered a sin against the Holy Ghost," in 
the light of this plain, matter-of-fact story of the won- 
derful development of medical science in the ecclesias- 
tically founded and ruled universities of the thirteenth 
century, makes one realize into what a farcical state of 
mind as regards the realities of history such writers 
have forced themselves, and unfortunately have led 
many readers, by their excursions into the history of 
medicine and science. Probably there was never a more 
pretentious exhibition of ignorance of the facts of his- 
tory than is displayed by these expressions and by the 
whole drift of this chapter. Dr. White would have us 


believe that the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were 
so backward in medicine and surgery that they practi- 
cally have no history in these departments, or so little 
as not to be worth talking about The simple facts show 
us that this is one of three or four great periods in hu- 
man history in which there was the most wonderful de- 
velopment of medicine and surgery. 

As we shall see in the course of this book, there was 
no bull or any other document issued by the Popes for- 
bidding dissection or hampering the development of 
anatomy in any way. As a matter of fact, the ecclesi- 
astics, instead of being behind their age in liberality of 
spirit with regard to the use of the himian body after 
death for anatomical purposes, were always ahead of it 
There has always existed a popular horror of dissection, 
and this has manifested itself from the earliest times in 
history down to and within the last half century, in re- 
fusal to enact such secular legislation as would properly 
provide for the practice of dissection. This was as true 
in the United States until within the memory of men 
still alive as it had always been hitherto in European 
history. Dissection came to be allowed so freely in the 
medieval universities founded under ecclesiastical influ- 
ence and ruled by ecclesiastics, as the result of the intel- 
ligent realization on the part of churchmen that the study 
of the human body was necessary for a proper recogni- 
tion and appreciation of the causes of the ills to which 
flesh is heir. They realized that the only way to lay the 
foundation of exact medical knowledge was not only to 
permit, but to encourage the practice of dissection, and 
accordingly this was done at everyone of a dozen med- 
ical schools of Italy during the fourteenth, fifteenth and 
sixteenth centuries, and nowhere more so than at the 


Papal University at Rome itself during the sixteenth 
century, at a time when, if we would believe Dr. White, 
the Church authorities were doing everything in their 
power to prevent dissection. 

None of the other sciences allied to medicine were 
hampered in any way, but, on the contrary, fostered 
and encouraged ; and the devoted students of science 
were prominent churchmen, some of whom were hon- 
ored with the title of saint after their deaths. In spite 
of declarations to the contrary, chemistry was not for- 
bidden by a Papal decree or other document, though the 
practice of certain alchemists of pretending to make gold 
and silver out of baser metals and thus cheating people 
was condemned, just as we condemn the corresponding 
practice of selling "gold bricks'' at the present time. 
As will be made very clear, the Pope who issued the de- 
cree that forbids such sharp practices was a distin- 
guished and discriminating patron of medical education 
at the beginning of the fourteenth century, doing more 
for it than any ruler for three centuries after his time ; 
yet in doing so he was only carrying out the policy which 
had been maintained by the Popes before his time and 
was to continue ever afterwards. 

Strange as it may appear when we recall how much 
has been said with regard to Papal, and Church, and 
theological opposition to science, the story that we have 
just told with regard to the Papal relations to medicine 
and medical schools must be retold with regard to science 
in every department, and the scientific studies at the 
great medieval universities. Most people will find it 
even more difficult to accept this than to reach a calm 
consideration of the Papal relations to the medical sci- 
ences. Medicine is supposed to be the sort of practical 


subject that, in spite of prejudice, the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities could not neglect and were not able to suppress. 
Science in general, however, is supposed to be so dis- 
tinctly opposed to what was at least considered religious 
truth, that the Church could not very well do anything 
else than prevent its development, or at least hamper its 
progress to such an extent that it was only with the lif t^ 
ing of the ecclesiastical incubus in our own day, that any 
great scientific advances came in the physical sciences. 
This is an entirely false impression emphasized by the 
ridiculous intolerance of writers who knew practically 
nothing of the real history of science in the Middle Ages, 
wrote their own prejudices large into the story of the 
times, and did great positive harm to the cause of truth 
by a pretense of knowledge they did not have, but which 
so many confidingly believed them to possess. 

But it will at once be said, what of Galileo ? Does not 
his case show the anti-scientific temper of churchmen ? 
Nearly half a century ago. Cardinal Newman in his 
Apologia characteristically observed that this very case 
sufficed to prove that the Church did not set herself 
against scientific progress, for this is the "one stock 
argument" to the contrary, "the exception which 
proves the rule." Commenting upon the Galileo inci- 
dent, Professor Augustus de Morgan, in his article on 
the Motion of the Earth in the English Encyclopedia, 
has expressed exactly the same conclusion. He is an 
authority not likely to be suspected of Catholic sjon- 
pathy. He says : 

"The Papal power must upon the whole have been 
moderately used in matters of philosophy, if we may 
judge by the great stress laid on this one case of Galileo. 
It is the standing proof that an authority which has 


lasted a thousand years was all the time occupied in 
checking the progress of thought (!) There are certainly 
one or two other instances, but those who make most of 
the outcry do not know them/' 

There is no doubt that Galileo was prosecuted by the 
Roman inqmsition on account of his astronomical teach- 
ings. We would be the last to deny that this was a 
deplorable mistake made by persons in ecclesiastical au- 
thority, who endeavored to make a Church tribunal the 
judge of scientific truth, a function altogether alien to 
its character which it was not competent to exercise. 
The fact that this was practically the only time that this 
was done serves to show that it was an unfortunate in- 
cident, but not a policy. The mistake has been to con- 
clude that this was a typical case-^one of many, more 
flagrant than the others. This single incident has in- 
deed made it impossible that anything of the same kind 
should ever occur again. It was rather because of the 
way in which Galileo urged his truths than because of 
the truths themselves that he was condemned. Even 
Professor Huxley, in a letter to Professor St. George 
Mivart, November 12th, 1885, said: **I gave some at- 
tention to the case of Galileo when I was in Italy, and I 
arrived at the conclusion that the Pope and the College 
of Cardinals had rather the best of it." 

Before as well as after Galileo's time scientific research 
was carried on ardently in the universities, especially in 
Italy. In the chapter on Science at the Medieval Uni- 
versities, we call attention to the many advances then 
made with regard to scientific questions in which the 
world is very much interested at the present time. A 
hundred years before Galileo's time Copernicus went 
down to Italy to study astronomy and medicine, and 


when his book was published it was dedicated to a Pope. 
Copernicus himself was a faithful churchman all his life, 
came near being: made a bishop once, and kept the dio- 
cese in which he lived, and in which his personal friend 
was bishop, in the fold of the Church in spite of Luther 
and the religious revolt all around it in Germany. One 
of the great scientists of the seventeenth century whose 
name is stamped deeply on the history of science. Father 
Kircher, the Jesuit, was invited to Rome the very year 
after Galileo's condemnation, and for thirty years con- 
tinued to experiment and write in all branches of science, 
not only with the approbation of his own order, the 
Jesuits, which helped him in every way by the collection 
of specimens for his museum, but also with the hearty 
good will of many cardinals who were his personal 
friends, and with the constant patronage of the Popes, 
whose generous liberality enabled him to make Rome 
the greatest centre of scientific interest during this cen- 

At this time and during the preceding century the 
Roman University had the greatest medical school in the 
world. The names of its professors during the preced- 
ing century need only be mentioned in order to empha- 
size this. They include such distinguished men as Eus- 
tachius and Varolius, whose names are forever enshrined 
in the history of anatomy ; Columbus, who discovered 
and described the lesser or pulmonary circulation half 
a century before Harvey's publication with regard to 
the general circulation ; Caesalpinus, to whom the Ital- 
ians attribute the discovery of the greater circulation 
before Harvey. In the next century Malpighi was 
tempted to come to Rome to teach at the Papal Univer- 
sity, and the great Father of Comparative Anatomy 


ended his days in the Papal capital, amidst the friend- 
ship of all the high ecclesiastics and with the social in- 
timacy of the Pope. From the beginning of the six- 
teenth century Bologna is a Papal city, but its medical 
school, far from declining after it came under Papal 
jurisdiction, was even more brilliant than before, and 
soon came even to outshine its previously successful 
rival, Padua. 

What we would say then, is that the story of the sup- 
posed opposition of the Church and the Popes and the 
ecclesiastical authorities to science in any of its branches, 
is founded entirely on mistaken notions. Most of it is 
quite imaginary. Much of it is due to the exaggeration 
of the significance of the Galileo incident. Only those 
who know nothing about the history of medicine and of 
science continue to harbor it. That Dr. White's book, 
contradicted as it is so directly by all our serious his- 
tories of medicine and of science, should have been read 
by so many thousands in this country, and should have 
been taken seriously by educated men, physicians, teach- 
ers, and even professors of science who want to know 
the history of their own sciences, only shows how easily 
even supposedly educated men may be led to follow their 
prejudices rather than their mental faculties, and em- 
phasizes the fact that the tradition that there is no good 
that can possibly come out of the Nazareth of the times 
before the reformation, still dominates the intellects of 
many educated people who think that they are far from 
prejudice and have minds perfectly open to conviction. 

We would not leave the impression, moreover, that it 
was in medicine alone that the misunderstood Middle 
Ages made distinct progress in science. This is true in 
every department of what we now call natural science. 


The reason for the false impression that science was not 
studied in the Middle Ages at the universities, is that 
the supposed historians of education and of science who 
have made such declarations have never taken the 
trouble to look into the works of the great writers of 
this perfbd. Anyone who does so, at once changes his 
opinion in this matter. Humboldt, for instance, the 
great German natural philosopher, has given ample 
credit to these colleagues of his, who lived some six 
centuries before him, yet did such wonderful work in 
spite of their inadequate means and the fact that they 
were as yet only groping in the darkness of the begin- 
nings of science. Whewell, the English historian of the 
inductive sciences, has also proved sympathetic to 
these old philosophers, and especially to Albertus Mag- 
nus and Roger Bacon. Those who so ignorantly but 
with a pretense of knowledge make little of the science 
of the Middle Ages, know nothing of the real accomplish- 
ments of such men as Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Thomas 
Aquinas, Arnold of Villanova, nor Vincent of Beauvais, 
the encyclopedist. As is always the case, however, the 
ignorance of supposed historians of science and educa- 
tion in this matter, has only served to emphasize the pre- 
sumptuous assurance of their declarations as to the in- 
tolerance of the Middle Ages toward scientific progress. 
It is ever the ignorant man who has the least doubt 
about his opinions. 

Unfortunately many students of science followed these 
writers apparently without a hint of the deception that 
was being practiced on them. Not infrequently the 
prestige or institutional position of the writers has been 
enough to carry their works into a vogue which has been 
heightened by the existence of religious prejudice and 


intolerance. Usually such motives are supposed to be 
far distant &om the scientific mind. In this case they 
have been, to some degree at least, unconsciously pres- 
ent There has imf ortunately been a definite persuasion 
that there could be nothing good in the Middle Ages, 
and therefore there has been no surprise that e^l should 
be found there. Perhaps there is nothing sadder in present 
day education, than the fact that serious students and 
professors of science should thus have been led astray. 
Nothing shows more clearly the superficialty of our edu- 
cation than the fact that these unfounded statements 
with regard to the greatest period of education in his- 
tory have been so universally accepted with so little 

A moment's consideration of the conditions in which the 
universities developed will show how unreasonable is the 
thought that the Church or the Popes were opposed to 
any phase of education. 

It has come to be universally conceded in recent years 
that the Church was the great patron of art and of let- 
ters during these centuries. Without the inspiration 
of her teachings there would have been no sublime 
subjects for artists ; without the lives of her saints 
there would have been much less opportunity for 
artistic expression; without the patronage of the 
cathedral bmlders, the high ecclesiastics, and above 
all the monastic orders, on whom, with so little 
reason, so much contempt has been heaped, there 
would have been none of that great art which developed 
during the centuries before what is called the Renais- 
sance. In literature, everyone of the great national 
poems that lie at the basis of modem literature is shot 
through and through with sublime thoughts that owe 


their origin to the Church. We need only mention the 
Cid in Spain, the Arthur Legends in England, such works 
of the Meistersingers as Perceval and Arme Heinrich, 
the Golden Legend, the Romance of the Rose, and Dante, 
—all written during the thirteenth century alone, to il- 
lustrate Church influence in literature. This is, as we 
have said, admitted by all. It is supposed, however, 
that while the Church encouraged this side of human 
development, it effectually prevented the evolution of 
man's scientific interests. 

As a matter of fact, however, the Church did quite as 
much for science as for literature and art and charity. 
There has never been any question that under her fos- 
tering care philosophy developed in a very marvelous 
way. The scholastic philosophers are no longer held in 
the disrepute so ignorantly accorded them in the last 
century. It is recognized that scholastic philosophy rep- 
resents a supremely great development of human think- 
ing with regard to the relations of man to his Creator, 
to his fellow man, and to the universe. Even those who 
do not accept its conclusions now, if themselves edu- 
cated men, no longer make little of those wonderful 
thinkers, but sympathize with their magnificent work. 
Only those who are ignorant of scholastic philosophy en- 
tirely, still continue to re-echo the expressions of critics 
whose opinions were founded on second-hand authorities 
and who confessedly had been unable to make anything 
out of the scholastics themselves. This field of philos- 
ophy was the real danger point for faith and the Church, 
yet its study was encouraged in every way, provided the 
philosophers kept within the bounds of their subject. 

Just exactly the same thing was true in the realm 
of natural science. Strange as it may seem to those 


who have allowed themselves to be led into thinking 
that only for the last century or a little more have 
men made observations on nature, and only com- 
paratively recently have the conclusions which they 
reached with regard to natural phenomena been of any 
real significance, there is no doubt at all that men made 
great achievements in physical science in the Middle 
Ages, some of which unfortunately were lost sight of 
later, but many of which remained to form the basis on 
which our modem scientific knowledge has been built 
In order to obtain a proper appreciation of this, all that 
is necessary is to study the works of the investigating 
scholars of the early history of the universities, and see 
how much that is considered very modem they antici- 
X>ated in their writings. They must be read for them-^ 
selves, not be judged by excerpts chosen by prejudiced 
readers, much less by critics who were bent on not find- 
ing anything good in the Middle Ages. There is need 
of sjonpathetic interpretation to replace the ignorant 
contempt which has so far dominated this period of the 
history of education. The precious lesson that men may 
learn from the unfortunate misunderstanding, however, 
is how much old-time prejudice still dominates the atti- 
tude even of scholars— nay, even of scientists and edu- 
cators, with regard to certain periods in history. 

To most people it will be utterly uncomprehensible, 
however, that after all that they have heard about 
Church opposition to science and Papal discouragement 
of education as dangerous to faith, there should now be 
an absolute denial of the supposed grounds for the as- 
sertions in this matter. Most readers, even among edu- 
cated people, will be very prone to think that their im- 
pressions in these matters cannot be entirely wrong, and 


that previous writers on the subject cannot have been 
either deceiving or deceived. In all that relates to the 
Roman Catholic Church, however, before the date of the 
so-called reformation, it is important to remember that 
there came into existence a definite body of Protestant 
tradition, the creation of the reformers who wished to 
blacken the memory of the Old Church as much as pos- 
sible to justify their own apostasy, and who therefore 
spared no means to pervert the facts of history or to 
exaggerate the significance of historical details so as to 
produce this false impression. Subsequent generations 
were of tener deceived themselves than deceiving. They 
were sure that the Church was opposed to education and 
to science, and consequently it was not hard for them to 
read in certain incidents and documents a meaning quite 
other than their actual significance, because this added 
meaning agreed with their prejudices on these subjects. 

Every advance in modem history, every modification 
of view that has been brought about by the critical his- 
torical method of recent times, has emphasized this point 
of view almost without exception. The distinguished 
philosophic and historical writer, the Comte de Maistre, 
in his Soirees of St Petersburg about a century ago, de- 
clared that "History for the last three centuries (1500- 
1800) has been a conspiracy against the truth." Just 
about a century later the editors of the Cambridge Mod- 
em History, in the preface to the first volume of their 
monumental work, re-echoed the words of the Comte de 
Maistre almost literally in a pregnant paragraph which 
deserves to be in the note-book of everyone who is try- 
ing to get at the real truth of history. They said : 

" Great additions have of late been made to our knowl- 
edge of the past ; the Umg conspiracy against the revelor- 


tion of truth has gradually given way, and competing 
historians all over the civilized worid have been zealous to 
take advantage of the change. The printing of archives 
has kept pace with the admission of enquirers; and 
the total mass of new matter, which the last half-century 
has accumulated, amounts to many thousands of vol- 
umes. In view of changes and of gains such as these, 
it has become impossible for the historical writer of the 
present age to trust without reserve even to the most 
respected secondary authorities. The honest student 
finds himself continually deserted, retarded, misled by 
the classics of historical literature, and has to hew his 
own way through multitudinous transactions, periodicals 
and official publications in order to reach the truth. 

"Ultimate history cannot be obtained in this genera- 
tion ; but, so far as documentary evidence is at command, 
conventional history can be discarded, and the point can 
he shovm that has been reached on the road &om one to 
the other.'' 

The italics in this passage are ours, but the ideas they 
emphasize will serve to show how necessary it is for 
most of us to give up the supposed historical truth of 
the preceding generations and have an open mind for 
the newer ideas that are coming in as the result of the 
renewed consultation of original docimients and primal 
sources of information. The present volume is written 
entirely with the idea of bringing out the facts of the 
relations of the Popes and the Church and the ecclesias- 
tics, especially of the centuries before the reformation, 
to science and to scientific education. My own position 
as a professor of the history of medicine has necessarily 
made medical science very prominent in the book. This, 
however, far from being a disadvantage, is really an 


advantage, since the physical sciences of the medieval 
times gathered mainly around medicine, and it was 
chiefly physicians and medical students who devoted 
most time to them. After a detailed study of the his- 
tory of medical science in the Middle Ages as well of its 
allied sciences, it becomes very clear that there was no 
trace of Papal or Church opposition to science as science, 
and, on the contrary, liberal patronage, abundant en- 
couragement, and even pecuniary aid for the develop- 
ment of scientific education in every way. 

What we have tried to give in this book, then, is the 
authoritative refutation of the supposed prohibition 
of the cultivation of certain departments of medi- 
cal and allied sciences by the Popes, and suflficient 
information to enable students and teachers of science 
to realize that the ordinarily accepted notions with 
regard to opposition to science in the Middle Ages are 
founded on nothing more substantial than sublime ig- 
norance of the facts of the history of science at that 
time. There was no bull against anatomy or dis- 
section ; no bull against chemistry ; the Popes were the 
patrons of the great medical scientists and surgeons ; 
the Papal Medical School was one of the best in the 
world and was sedulously fostered ; the great scientists 
of the Middle Ages were clergymen, and many of them 
when they died were declared saints by the Church. 
The opposite impression is entirely a deduction from 
false premises with regard to the supposed attitude of 
the Church and churchmen. We shall furnish abundant 
authorities of the first rank and of value as absolute as 
there can be in present day history as to these ques- 
tions. The consultation of these will furnish further 
material for those who desire to have real knowledge of 



the history of science in a magnificently original and 
greatly fruitful period. 


There is a very general impression that the Roman 
Catholic Church was, during the Middle Ages, opposed 
to the practice of dissection, and that various ecclesias- 
tical regulations and even Papal decrees were issued 
which prohibited, or at least limited to a very great de- 
' gree, this necessary adjunct of medical teaching. These 
ecclesiastical censures are supposed to be in force, to 
some extent at least, even at the present time. The 
persuasion as to the minatory attitude of the Church in 
regard to dissection is so widespread among even sup- 
posedly well-educated professional men, that, as we have 
said in the introductory chapter, when there was ques- 
tion some time ago of opening a medical school in New 
York City under Catholic auspices as a department of 
Fordham University, a number of more than ordinarily 
intelligent physicians asked : What would be done about 
the study of anatonjy, since in the circumstances sug- 
gested dissection would not be allowed ? This false im- 
pression has been produced by writers in the history of 
science who have emphasized very strenuously the sup- 
posed opposition of the Church to science, and as these 
writers had a certain prestige as scholars their works 
have been widely read and their assertions have been 
unquestioned, because it would naturally be presumed 
that they would not make them without thorough inves- 
tigation of such important questions. Professional men 
are not to blame if they have taken such statements se- 



riously, even though they are absolutely without founda- 
tion. That statements of this kind should have been 
made by men of distinction in educational circles and 
should have passed current so long, is only additional 
evidence of an intolerant spirit in those who least sus- 
pect it in themselves and are most ready to deprecate 
intolerance in others. 

Take a single example. Most of what is said as to 
the opposition of the Church to medicine during the 
Middle Ages in A History of the Warfare of Science 
with Theology in Christendom, by Andrew D. White 
(Appleton's, New York), is founded on a supposed 
Papal prohibition of anatomy and on a subsequent equal- 
ly supposed Papal prohibition of chemistry. These two 
documents are emphasized so much, that most readers 
cannot but conclude that, even without further evidence, 
these are quite enough to prove the contention with re- 
gard to the unfortunate opposition of the Church to 
medical science. Without these two presumably solid 
pillars of actual Papal documents, what is said with re- 
gard to the Church and its relations to medical science 
in the Middle Ages amounls~lo very little. Much is \ 
made of the existence of superstitions in medicine as 
characteristic of the Middle Ages and as encouraged by 
clerg3rmen, but medical superstitions of many kinds con- 
tinue to have their hold on even the intelligent classes 
down to the present day in spite of the progress of edu- 
cation, and in countries where the Church has very little 
influence over the people. Dr. White quotes with great 
confidence and absolute assurance a Papal decree issued 
^in the year 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII., which forbade 
the mutilation of the human body and consequently 
hampered all possibility of progress in anatomy for sev- 


eral important centuries in the history of modem science. 
Indeed, this supposed Papal prohibition of dissection is 
definitely stated to have precluded all opportunity for the 
proper acquisition of anatomical knowledge until the first 
half ot the sixteenth century, when the Golden Age of 
modem anatomy set in. This date being coincident 
with the spread of the movement known as the Protes- 
tant Reformation, many people at once conclude that 
somehow the liberality of spirit that then came into the 
world, and is supposed at least to have put an end to all 
intolerance, must have been the active factor in this de- 
velopment of anatomy, and that, as Dr. White has in- 
deed declared, it was only because the Church was forced 
from her position of opposition that anatomical investi- 
gation was allowed. 

Since so serious an accusation is founded on a definite 
Papal document, it cannot but be a matter of surprise 
that those who have cited it so confidently as forbidding 
anatomy, and especially dissection, have never given 
the full text of the document. It is practically impos- 
sible for the ordinary reader, or even for the serious 
student of the history of medicine, to obtain a copy of 
this decree unless he has special library facilities at his 
command and the help of those who are familiar with 
this class of documents. Many references have been 
made to this prohibition by Pope Boniface VIII., but no 
one has thought it worth while to give, even in a foot- 
note, the text of it. The reason for this is easy to un- 
derstand as soon as one reads the actual text. It has 
nothing to say at all with regard to dissection. It has 
absolutely no reference to the cutting up of the human 
body for teaching purposes. Its purpose is very plain, 
and is stated so that there can be no possible misappre- 


hension of its meaning. Here we have an excellent il- 
lustration of what the editors of the Cambridge Modem 
History declared to be the breaking up of the long con- 
spiracy against the truth by the consultation of original 

Through the kindness of the Rev. D. A. Corbett, of 
the Seminary of St Charles Borromeo, Overbrook, Pa., 
I have been able to secure a copy of Pope Boniface's de- 
cree, and this at once disposes of the assertion that dis- 
section was forbidden or anatomy in any way hampered 
by it. Father Corbett writes : 

'* The Bull De Sepulturis of Boniface VIH. is not found 
in the CoUectio BuUarum of Coquelines, nor is it incor- 
porated in the Liber Sextus Decretaliimi Divi Bonif acii 
Papae VHL, though it is from here that it is quoted in 
the Histoire Litteraire de la France (as referred to by 
President White). It appears in an appendix to this 
sixth book among the Extravagantes, a term that is used 
to signify that the docimients contained under it were 
issued at a time somewhat apart from the period this 
special book of decretals was supposed to cover. The 
Liber Sextus was published in 1298. This ' Bull De Se- 
pulturis ' was not issued until 1300. It is to be found in 
the third book of the Extravagantes, Chapter I." 

Even a glance at the title would seem to be sufficient 
to show that this document did not refer even distantly 
to dissection, and this makes it all the harder to under- 
stand the misapprehension that ensued in the matter, if 
the document was quoted in good faith, for usually the 
compression necessary in the title is the source of such 
errors. The full text of the bull only confirms the abso- 
lute absence of any suggestion of forbidding dissection 
or discouraging the study of anatomy. 


"Title-Concerning Burials.^ Boniface VIII. Per- 
sons cutting up the bodies of the dead, barbarously boil- 
ing them, in order that the bones, being separated from 
the flesh, may be carried for burial into their own coun- 
tries, are by the very act exconmiunicated. 

"As there exists a certain abuse, which is character- 
ized by the most abominable savagery, but which never- 
theless some of the faithful have stupidly adopted. We, 
prompted by motives of humanity, have decreed that all 
further mangling of the himian body, the very mention 
of which fills the soul with horror, should be henceforth 

"The custom referred to is observed with regard to 
those who happen to be in any way distinguished by 
birth or position, who, when dying in foreign lands, 
have expressed a desire to be buried in their own coun- 
try. The custom consists of disemboweling and dis- 
membering the corpse, or chopping it into pieces and 
then boiling it so as to remove the flesh before sending 
the bones home to be buried— all from a distorted re- 
spect for the dead. Now, this is not only abominable 
in the sight of God, but extremely revolting under every 
human aspect. Wishing, therefore, as the duty of our 
office demands, to provide a remedy for this abuse, by 
which the custom, which is such an abomination, so in- 
himian and so impious, may be eradicated and no longer 
be practiced by anyone, We, by our apostolic authority, 
decree and ordain that no matter of what position or 
family or dignity they may be, no matter in what cities 
or lands or places in which the worship of the Catholic 
faith flourishes, the practice of this or any similar abuse 
with regard to the bodies of the dead should cease for- 

1 See Latin text in full in appendix. 


ever, no longer be observed, and that the hands of the 
faithful should not be stained by such barbarities. 

"And in order that the bodies of the dead should not 
be thus impiously and barbarously treated and then 
transported to the places in which, while alive, they had 
selected to be buried, let them be given sepulture for the 
time either in the city or the camp or in the place where 
they have died, or in some neighboring place, so that, 
when finally their bodies have been reduced to ashes or 
otherwise, they may be brought to the place where 
they wish to be buried and there be interred. And, if 
the executor or executrix of the aforesaid defunct, or 
those of his household, or anyone else of whatever 
order, condition, state or grade he may be, even if he 
should be clothed with episcopal dignity, should presume 
to attempt anything against the tenor of this our statute 
and ordination, by inhumanly and barbarously treating 
the bodies of the dead, as we have described, let him 
know that by the very fact he incurs the sentence of 
excommimication, from which he cannot obtain absolu- 
tion (unless at the moment of death), except from the 
Holy See. And besides, the body that has been thus 
barbarously treated shall be left without Christian 
burial. Lfet no one, therefore, etc. (Here follows the 
usual formula of condemnation for the violation of the 
prescriptions of a decree. ) Given at the Lateran Palace, 
on the twelfth of the calends of March, in the sixth year 
of our pontificate." 

The reason for the bull is very well known. During 
the crusades, numbers of the nobility who died at a dis- 
tance from their homes in infidel countries were pre- 
pared for transportation and burial in their own lands 
by dismemberment and boiling. The remains of Louis 


IX., of France, and a number of his relatives who per- 
ished on the ill-fated crusade in Egypt in 1270, are said 
to have been brought back to France in this fashion. 
The body of the famous German Emperor, Frederick 
Barbarossa, who was drowned in the river Saleph near 
Jerusalem, was also treated thus in order that the re- 
mains might be transported to Germany without serious 
decomposition being allowed to disturb the ceremonials of 
subsequent obsequies. Such examples were very likely 
to be imitated by many. The custom, as can be appre- 
ciated from these instances from different nations, was 
becoming so widespread as to constitute a serious source 
of danger to health, and might easily have furnished oc- 
casion for the conveyance of disease. It is almost need- 
less to say to our generation that it was eminently un- 
hygienic. Any modem authority in sanitation would at 
once declare against it, and the custom would be put an 
end to without more ado. There can be no doubt at all 
then that Pope Boniface VIII. accomplished good, not 
evil, by the publication of this bull. So anyone with 
modem views as to the danger of disease from the fool- 
ish custom which it abolished would at once have de- 
clared, and yet, by a perversion of its signification, it 
came to be connected with a supposed prohibition of 
dissection. For this misunderstanding Pope Boniface 
VIII. has had to suffer all sorts of reproaches and the 
Church has been branded as opposed to anatomy by his- 
torians (!) 

Is it possible, however, that this bull was misinter- 
preted so as to forbid dissection, or at least certain 
forms of anatomical preparation which were useful for 
the study and teaching of anatomy ? That is what Dr. 
White asserts. He shows, moreover, in his History of 


the Warfare of Science with Theology, that he knew 
that the document in question was perfectly inoffensive 
as regards any prohibition of dissection in itself, but in- 
sists that by a misinterpretation, easy to understand as 
he considers, because of the supposed opposition of 
ecclesiastics to medical science, it did actually prevent 
anatomical development. President White says: **As 
to the decretal of Pope Boniface VIIL, the usual state- 
ment is that it forbade all dissections. While it was un- 
doubtedly construed universally to prohibit dissection 
for anatomical purposes, its declared intent was as 
stated in the text; that it was constantly construed 
against anatomical investigations cannot for a moment 
be denied." 

If a misinterpretation were subsequently made, surely 
Pope Boniface VIII. must not be held responsible for it ; 
yet in spite of the fact that Dr. White shows that he 
knew very well that this bull did not forbid the practice 
of dissection, he does not hesitate to use over and over 
again expressions which would imply that some formal 
decision against dissection itself had been made, though 
this is the only Papal document he refers to. He even 
goes so far as to say that " anatomical investigation was 
made a sin against the Holy Ghost. " He frequently re- 
peats that for three centuries after the issuance of this 
bull the development of anatomy was delayed and ham- 
pered, and insists that only that Vesalius at great per- 
sonal risk broke through this Church opposition, modem 
anatomy would never have developed. He proceeds 
constantly on the theory that it was always this bull 
that was in fault, though he confesses that if so, it was 
by a misunderstanding ; and the only fault he can find 
to attribute to the Pope is a lack of infallibility, as he 


calls it, because he was not able to foresee that his bull 
would be so misunderstood. 

I suppose we are to understand from this that Dr. 
White considers that he knows the meaning of the word 
infallibility. It is not a hard word to understand if one 
wishes to understand it The meaning that he gives it 
in this passage is so entirely different from its accepted 
meaning among Catholics, that any schoolboy in any of 
our parochial schools would tell him that the word was 
never used by Catholics in the sense in which he here 
employs it It is so misunderstood popularly outside of 
the Church, and this Dr. White doubtlessjcnew very well. 
When a man uses a term in medicine in a different sense 
to that which is ordinarily accepted, we consider him 
ignorant ; but when he deliberately uses it in another 
sense for his own purposes because of a false signifi- 
cance attached to it in the popular mind, we have a spe- 
cial name for him. 

The whole matter, however, resolves itself into the 
simple question, **Was dissection prevented and ana- 
tomical investigation hampered after the issuance of the 
bull ? " This is entirely a question of fact The history 
of anatomy will show whether dissection ceased or not 
at this time. Now if those who so confidently make as- 
sertions in this matter had ever gone to a genuine his- 
tory of anatomy, they would have learned at once that, 
far from this being the time when dissection ceased, the 
year 1300 is almost exactly the date for which we have 
the first definite evidence of the making of dissections 
and the gradual development of anatomical investigation 
by this means in connection with the Italian universities. 
This is such a curious coincidence that I always call it to the 
attention of medical students in lecturing on this subject 


The first dissection of which we have definite record, 

Roth tells us in his life of Vesalius, was a so-called pri- 
vate anatomy or dissection made for medico-legal pur- 
poses. Its date is the year 1302, within two years after 
the bull. A nobleman had died and there was a sus- 
picion that he had been poisoned. The judge ordered 
that an autopsy be made in order to determine this ques- 
tion. Unfortunately we do not know what the decision 
of the doctors in the case was. We know only that the 
case was referred to them. Now it seems very clear 
that if this had not been a common practice before, the 
court would not have adopted this measure, apparently 
as a matter of judicial routine, as seems to have been 
the case in this instance. Had it been the first time that 
it was done instead of having the record of the trans- 
action preserved only by chance, any mention of it at all 
would have appeared so striking to the narrator, that he 
would have been careful to tell the whole story, and 
especially the decision reached in the matter. 

After this, evidence of dissection accumulates rapidly. 
During the second decade of the century Mondino, the 
first writer on anatomy, was working at Bologna. We 
have the records of his having made some dissections in 
connection with his university teaching there, and event- 
ually he published a text-book on dissection which be- 
came the guide for dissectors for the next two centuries. 
Within five years after this we have a story of students 
being haled to court for body-snatching for anatomical 
purposes, and about this time there was, according to 
Rashdall in his History of the Universities, a statute of 
the University of Bologna which required the teacher in 
anatomy to dissect a body, if the students brought it to 
him. More than ten years earlier than this, that is. 


within ten years after the supposed Papal prohibition, 
there are records of dissections having been made at 
Venice in public, for the benefit of the doctors of the 
city, at the expense of the municipal treasury. During 
the first half of this century money was allowed at Bo- 
logna for wine, to be given to those who attended the 
public dissections, and if we recall the state in which 
the bodies must have been at a time when the use of 
preservatives was unknown, we can well understand the 
need for it.- All this shows, as I have said, that the date 
of Boniface's bull (1300), far from representing the 
eclipse of anatomy, actually fixes the date of the dawn 
of modem practical anatomical study. 

The most interesting question in this whole discussion 
is as to how much dissection Mondino actually did during 
the second decade of the fourteenth century. His book 
became the manual of dissection that was in practically 
every dissector's hands for several centuries after. 
Probably no book of its kind has ever been more used, 
and none maintained its place as the standard work in 
this department for so long. No less than 25 printed 
editions of it appeared altogether. It would seem to be 
utterly improbable that the author of a text-book of this 
kind could have made only a few dissections. There are 
a number of historians who have claimed, nevertheless, 
that at most he did not dissect more than three or four 
bodies. This is all that we have absolute evidence for, 
that is to say, only these dissections are recorded. It is 
easy to understand, however, that a professor of anatomy 
might make even hundreds of dissections, and yet have 
something to say only about a very few which happened 
to present some special peculiarities. The absence of 
further records may readily be accounted for also in 


other ways. The art of printing was not yet invented; 
paper had only just been discovered and was extremely 
expensive, and many factors conspired to destroy any 
records that may have been made. 

Outsiders dipping into the history of medicine have 
made much of our paucity of documentary evidence with 
regard to what Mondino actually did, and have, when it 
suited their purpose, insisted that this first author of a 
dissector's manual did but the three or four dissections 
explicitly mentioned. Those who are more familiar with 
the history of medicine, and especially of anatomy, are 
persuaded that he must have done many. In the first 
class of writers is Prof. White, for instance, who de- 
clares positively that Mondino did not dissect more 
bodies than those of which we have absolute records. 
According to his emphatically expressed opinion, the 
reason why the father of dissection did not dissect more 
was because of ecclesiastical opposition. Even these 
few dissections were due to some favoring chance or the 
laxity of the ecclesiastical authorities, or Mondino might 
have paid dear for his audacity. No one else, according 
to Prof. White, dared toencounterthe awful penalties that 
might have been inflicted on Mondino until Vesalius, more 
than two centuries later, broke through **the ecclesias- 
tical barrier'* and gave liberty to anatomists. Prof. 
Lewis S. Pilcher, of Brooklyn, who has made a special 
study of Mondino and his times, who has consulted that 
author's original editions, who has searched out the tradi- 
tions with regard to him in the very scene of his labors in 
Bologna, thinks quite differently. Prof. White has a pur- 
pose, that of minimizing the work done in anatomy dur- 
ing the fourteenth century ; Prof. Pilcher's only purpose 
is to bring out the truth with regard to the history of 


anatomy. In the Medical Library and Historical Jour- 
nal for December, 1906, Prof. Pilcher has an article en- 
titled The Mondino Myth, by which term he designates 
the idea that Mondino dissected but a few bodies. He 
says with regard to this subject : 

''The changes have been rung by medical historians 
upon a casual reference in Mondino's chapter on the 
uterus to the bodies of two women and one sow which 
he had dissected, as if these were the first and the only 
cadavers dissected by him. The context involved no 
such construction. He is enforcing a statement that the 
size of the uterus may vary, and to illustrate it remarks 
that, ' a woman whom I anatomized in the month of 
January last year (1315 Anno Christi), had a larger 
uterus than one whom I anatomized in the month of 
March of the same year. ' And further, he says, ' the 
uterus of a sow which I dissected in 1316 (the year in 
which he was writing) was a hundred times greater 
than any I had seen in the human female, for she was 
pregnant, and contained thirteen pigs. ' These happen 
to be the only references to specific bodies that he makes 
in his treatise. But it is a far cry to wring out of these 
references the conclusions that these are the only dissec- 
tions he made. It is quite true that if we incline to en- 
shroud his work in a cloud of mystery, and to figure it 
as an unprecedented, awe-inspiring feature to break 
down the prejudices of the ages, it is easy to think of 
him as having timidly profaned the human body in his 
anatomizing zeal in but one or two instances. His own 
language, however, throughout his book is that of a man 
who was familiar with the differing conditions of the 
organs found in many different bodies— a man who was 
habitually dissecting." 


As I think must be clear to any one who knows Mon- 
dino's book, no other conclusion than this suggested by 
Prof. Pilcher can be drawn. This opinion has been 
frankly stated by every historian of anatomy in recent 
years. Puschmann says it very clearly. Von Toply is 
evidently of the same opinion. These are the latest au- 
thorities in the history of anatomy. No other conclu- 
sion than this could well be reached by anyone who has 
studied the question seriously. Pilcher confirms this in 
the article already quoted in the following paragraph : 

" Salemum was not alone in its legalization of the dis- 
section of human bodies before the first public work of 
Mondino, for, according to a document of the Maggiore 
Consiglio of Venice of 1308, it appears that there was a 
college of medicine in Venice, which was even then au- 
thorized to dissect a body once every year. Common 
experience tells us that the embodiment of such regula- 
tions into formal law would occur only after a consider- 
able preceding period of discussion, and in this particular 
field, of clandestine practice. It is too much to ask us 
to believe that in all this period, from the date of the 
promulgation of Frederick's decree of 1241 to the first 
public demonstration by Mondino at Bologna in 1315, 
the decree had been a dead letter and no human body 
had been anatomized. It is true there is not, as far as 
I am aware, any record of any such work, and com- 
mentators and historians of a later date have, without 
exception, accepted the view that none was done, and 
thereby heightened the halo assigned to Mondino as the 
one who ushered a new era. Such a view seems to me 
to be incredible. Be that as it may, it is undeniable that 
at the beginning of the fourteenth century the idea of 
dissecting the human body was not a novel one; the im- 


portance of a knowledge of the intimate structure of the 
body had already been appreciated by divers ruling 
bodies, and specific regulations prescribing its practice 
had been enacted. It is more reasonable to believe that 
in the era preceding immediately that of Mondino, human 
bodies were being opened and after a fashion anatomized. 
All that we know of the work of Mondino suggests that it 
was not a new enterprise in which he was a pioneer, but 
rather that he brought to an old practice a new enthus- 
iasm and better methods, which, caught on the rising 
wave of interest in medical teaching at Bologna, and 
preserved by his own energy as a writer in the first orig- 
inal systematic treatise written since the time of Galen, 
created for him in subsequent uncritical times the repu- 
tation of being the restorer of the practice of anatomiz- 
ing the human body, the first one to demonstrate and 
teach such knowledge since the time of the Ptolemaic 
anatomists, Erasistratus and Herophilus." 

In order to show that Mondino did not perform only 
the two or three dissections which he himself for special 
reasons mentions, but many more, Professor Pilcher has 
made a series of quotations from the Bolognese anatom- 
ist's manual of dissection. It is after all quite easy to 
understand that if dissections were common, there would 
be no records of most of them, as they would be too 
commonplace for chroniclers to mention. Only those 
that have some special feature are by chance mentioned 
in some accounts of doings at the university. The rec^ 
ords of the actual number of dissections at most medical 
schools, even a century ago, are not now available in 
most cases. On the other hand, no one can read these 
quotations from Mondino's book without realizing that 
the man who wrote these passages had made many dis- 


sections, and that it was a common practice for him to 
make anatomical preparations in many different ways, 
under many different circimistances and for many dif- 
ferent purposes. 

The second quotation shows, in fact, that Mondino had 
the custom sometimes of boiling his bodies before dis- 
secting them when he wished to demonstrate special 
features, and he promises to make such an anatomy for 
his students at another time. If the bull of Pope Boni- 
face VIII. was misinterpreted in any way to prohibit 
dissection, this would surely be the practice supposed to 
fall under its provisions. Here we find Mondino, less 
than twenty years after the promulgation of the bull, 
writing about this very practice, however, and calmly 
suggesting that he follows it as a routine, in a book that 
was published without let or hindrance from the eccles- 
iastical authorities, and that became for the next two 
centuries the most used book in the teaching of anatomy 
in educational institutions that were directly under ec- 
clesiastical authorities. If the bull was misinterpreted 
so as to forbid dissection, as has been said, surely this 
flagrant violation of it would not have been permitted. 
It is clear that, if there was a misinterpretation, it must 
have come later in the history of anatomy. But of that 
we shall find no trace any more than at this time. 

Here are the quotations from the Anatomy of Mon- 
dino which show that he practiced not one but many 
methods of making dissections, according to the pur- 
poses he had in view. The leaf and line references are 
to the Dryander Edition, Marburg, 1541. (Taken from 
Prof. Pilcher.) 

"I do not consider separately here the anatomy of 
component parts, because their anatomy does not appear 


clearly in the fresh subject, but rather in those macer- 
ated in water." (Leaf 2, lines 8-13.) 

'*.... these differences are more noticeable 
in the cooked or perfectly dried body, and so you need 
not be concerned about them, as perhaps / luiU make an 
anatomy upon such a one at another time and will write 
what I observe with my own senses, as I have proposed 
from the beginning.*' (Leaf 60, lines 14-17.) 

''What the members are to which these nerves come 
cannot well be seen in such dissection as this, but it 
should be liquified with rain water, and this is not con- 
templated in the present body." (Leaf 60, lines 31-33.) 

''After the veins you will note many muscles and 
many large and strong cords, the complete anatomy of 
which you will not endeavor to find in such a body, but 
in a body dried in the sun for three years, as I have de- 
monstrated at another time ; I also declared completely 
their number, and wrote the anatomy of the muscles of 
the arms, hands and feet in a lecture which I gave over 
the first, second, third and fourth subjects." 

As must be clear to anyone, many of these expressions 
are, as Professor Pilcher insists, intelligible only if we 
accept the conclusion that their author had done many 
dissections, under many and varying circumstances, dur- 
ing his career as an anatomist before writing this vol- 
ume. We have other evidence, of a much more direct 
character, for this fact. Mondino uses the expression, 
that he had demonstrated many times a certain anatom- 
ical feature which could only be the subject of demon- 
stration after dissection. The expression occurs in a 
description of the hypo-gastric region which he calls the 
sumen. Through this region, he says, there pass to the 
surface certain veins which transmit fluid in the fetus 


during the time of its life in utero. For this reason they 
are better studied in the unborn than in the fully devel- 
oped, since they lose their function as soon as complete 
development is reached. In this description Mondino 
uses the words " ego hoc modo multitotiens monstravi. " 

As with regard to this, so as to another bit of evidence 
of Mondino's frequency of dissection, Professor Pilcher 
has supplied the material. He says in his article on the 
Mondino Myth, already cited : 

** Shortly after his (Mondino's) death, the young Guy 
de Chauliac, of Montpelier, came to Bologna to study 
anatomy under the tuition of Mondino's successor, Ber- 
trucius. When he wrote his own treatise, * La Grande 
Chirurgie,' thirty years later, he prefaced it with an ap- 
preciation of the study of anatomy, saying : ' It is nec- 
essary and useful to every physician to know first of all 
anatomy ' ; and that a knowledge of anatomy was to be 
acquired by two means ; ' these are, ' he says, * the study 
of books, a means useful indeed, but not sufficient to ex- 
plain those things which can only be appreciated by the 
senses ; the other, experimentally on the dead body, ac- 
cording to the treatise of Mondinus, of Bologna, which 
he has written, and which (experimental anatomy on 
the cadaver) he (Mondinus) has done many times'— 
* et ipsam fecit rmdtitoties. ' ' ' 

Besides this evidence we have details of the lives of 
two of Mondino's assistants which furnish further proofs 
of the frequency of dissection at the University of Bo- 
logna during these first two decades of the fourteenth 
century, which, it will be recalled, are also the first two 
decades after the promulgation of Pope Boniface's bull. 
Curiously enough, one of these assistants was a young 
woman who, as was not infrequently the custom at this 


time in the Italian universities, was matriculated as a 
student at Bologna. She took up first philosophy and 
afterwards anatomy under Mondino. While it is not 
generally realized, co-education was quite common at 
the Italian universities of the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries, and at no time since the foundation of the 
universities has a century passed in Italy without distin- 
guished women occupying professors' chairs at some of 
the Italian universities. This young woman, Alessandra 
Giliani, of Persiceto, a country district not far from Bo- 
logna, took up the study of anatomy with ardor and, 
strange as it may appear, became especially enthusiastic 
about dissection. She became so skilful that she was 
made the prosector of anatomy, that is, one who pre- 
pares bodies for demonstration by the professor. 

According to the Cronaca Persicetana, quoted by Med- 
ici in his History of the Anatomical School of Bologna : 

'*She became most valuable to Mondino because she 
would cleanse most skilfully the smallest vein, the ar- 
teries, all ramifications of the vessels, without lacerating 
or dividing them, and to prepare them for demonstration 
she would fill them with various colored liquids, which, 
after having been driven into the vessels, would harden 
without destroying the vessels. Again, she would paint 
these same vessels to their minute branches so perfectly 
and color them so naturally that, added to the wonderful 
explanations and teachings of the master, they brought 
him great fame and credit.'' This whole passage shows 
a wonderful anticipation of all our most modem methods 
—injection, painting, hardening— of making anatomical 
preparations for class and demonstration purposes. 

Some of the details of the story have been doubted, 
but her memorial tablet, erected at the time of her death 


in the Church of San Pietro e Marcellino of the Hospital 
of Santa Maria de Mareto, gives all the important facts, 
and tells also the story of the grief of her fianc^, who was 
himself Mondino's other assistant This was Otto Agen- 
ius, who had made for himself a name as an assistant 
to the chair of Anatomy in Bologna, and of whom there 
were great hopes entertained because he had already 
shown signs of genius as an investigator in anatomy. 
These hopes were destined to grievous disappointment, 
however, for Otto died suddenly, before he had reached 
his thirtieth year. The fact that both these assistants 
of Mondino died young and suddenly, would seem to 
point to the fact that probably dissection wounds in those 
early days proved even more fatal than they occasionally 
did a century or more ago, when the proper precautions 
against them were not so well understood. The death 
of Mondino's two prosectors in early years would seem 
to hint at some such unfortunate occurrence. 

As regards the evidence of what the young man had 
accomplished before his untimely death, probably the 
following quotation, which Medici has taken from one 
of the old chroniclers, will give the best idea. He said : 

*' What advantage indeed might not Bologna have had 
from Otto Agenius Lustrolanus, whom Mondino had used 
as an assiduous prosector, if he had not been taken away 
by a swift and lamentable death before he had com- 
pleted the sixth lustrum of his life ! " 

Further absolute proof that dissections were very com- 
mon about the time that Mondino made those which are 
recorded, and the mention of which has led to the false 
assumption as to the rarity of dissection, is to be found 
in the legal prosecution for body-snatching, which I have 
ah^ady mentioned and which took place within five 


years after Mondino made the public demonstrations in 
dissection that are the subject of discussion. It will 
be conceded by everyone that such prosecutions for body- 
snatching are not likely to occur when only one or two 
graves are violated a year, but are usually the result of 
a series of such outrages, which arouse the conmaunity 
against them. We prefer to give this bit of history once 
more in the words of Professor Pilcher, who has argued 
this whole case for the frequency of dissection within 
twenty years after the bull that is supposed to have for- 
bidden it better than anyone else, and whose knowledge 
of Mondino and his times is such as to make him an au- 
thority on the subject He has no interest in them, as 
I have said, either for or against the Popes. His only 
idea is to bring out the real meaning of whatever data 
we possess for the history of anatomy and dissection at 
this time. 

*' An instructive and interesting side-light on the con- 
ditions attending the study of practical anatomy in the 
days of Mondino may be found in a record, still extant, 
ot a legal procedure which occurred in Bologna in the 
year 1319, four years after Mondino had begun his pub- 
lic demonstrations and at a time when Otto and Aless- 
andra were doubtless enthusiastically working with him. 
According to the record, four students, three from Milan 
and one from Piacenza, were accused of having gone at 
night time to the cemetery of the church of San Bar- 
nada, outside the San Felice gate, and to have sacrileg- 
iously violated the grave in which was buried the body 
of a certain Pasino who had been hung on the gallows 
near the Ponte di Reno. It was charged that the stu- 
dents had taken up the body and carried it to the school 
of the parish of San Salvatore, near the pharmacy of 


Giacomo de Guido, where Master Alberto (Zancari) was 
teaching. There were witnesses who affirmed that they 
had seen the body of Pasino in the school and the stu- 
dents and others intent upon dissecting it It was the 
sixth of December when the arrests were made, but the 
final outcome of the trial is not stated." 

Surely all this must be considered sufficient evidence 
to show that Pope Boniface's bull neither forbade dis- 
section, nor was misinterpreted as prohibiting any prac- 
tice in connection with anatomical investigation. It is 
not enough for President White, however, for after the 
publication of my original article in the Medical Library 
and Historical Journal on The Popes and Anatomy, and 
another article on Pope John XXII. and the Supposed 
Bull against Chemistry, President White wrote thus in 
reply: ''Dr. Walsh takes up the decretal of Boniface 
VIII., in 1300, and endeavors to show that, so far from 
forbidding dissection, it had quite a different tenor, and 
that at sundry universities in Italy and at the University 
at Montpelier, in France, dissection was permitted and 
most openly practiced. This seems to me very disin- 
genuous. The decretal of Boniface was construed uni- 
versally as prohibiting dissections for any purpose what- 
ever. '* 

For President White, then, the publication of the text 
of the bull is only an endeavor to show that, so far from 
forbidding dissection, it had quite a different tenor. 
This endeavor seems to him very disingenuous (!) It 
matters not what evidence there may be for dissection, 
or lack of evidence as to ecclesiastical opposition, the 
decretal ot Boniface was construed universally as prohib- 
iting any dissections for any purpose whatever. All 
history must yield before the reiteration of the assertion 


that the Popes did forbid dissection, and that there was 
no anatomy during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fif- 
teenth centuries, except such as by chance, in some way 
or other, succeeded in evading the Church regulations. 
It simply must have been so. President White has said it. 
For anyone to deny it is to question his historical infal- 
libility. Only those who are disingenuous will dare to 
do so. 

It is true, he grants there were some permits to dissect 
given, but these were wrung from the unwilling hands 
of the ecclesiastical authorities, and are only proofs of 
their opposition, not at all of their toleration of dissec- 
tion. There is no limit to which Professor White will 
not go in order to maintain his proposition that the Popes 
did forbid anatomy, and that there was no anatomical 
investigation during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fif- 
teenth centuries. Here, for instance, is a paragraph 
from Professor White's answer which shows very strik- 
ingly one method of arguing with regard to a question 
of major significance in the history of education as well 
as of science, and especially of medicine, during the 
Middle Ages. Comments on it are entirely unnecessary : 

** And now, as to Dr. Walsh's statement that dissec- 
tion was permitted by Popes and ecclesiastical author- 
ities in universities. His argument in the matter is an 
excellent example of Jesuitism. It is true that under 
the pressure of the developing science of medicine, sun- 
dry civil and ecclesiastical authorities did, from time to 
time, issue permits allowing an occasional dissection, at 
rare intervals, here and there ; as, for example, the per- 
mission given to the University of Lerida, in 1391, to 
dissect one dead criminal every three years, and to 
sundry other universities to disspct one or two human 


bodies each year. It is a fact of which we have ample 
testimony, that Mundinus, the great anatomist preced- 
ing Vesalius, only dissected three human bodies with his 
classes dxiring his entire career. So far from effectually 
helping anatomy, these permissions served really to 
fasten the idea upon the European mind that dissection 
to any considerable extent by anatomical investigators 
ought not to be allowed, and, as a matter of fact, it was 
not until Vesalius, in spite of theological opposition, 
braved calumny, persecution, and possibly death, that 
this ecclesiastical barrier to investigation was broken 
through. ' ' (Italics ours. ) 

Since Professor White has insisted so much on the sig- 
nificance of these permissions, a discussion of them will 
not be out of place. There are records of a certain small 
number of permissions to dissect having been granted 
by the Popes to various universities during the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries. These are so few, how- 
ever, that it would seem that if they represented the 
only opportunities afforded for dissection, then the de- 
velopment of anatomy must have been much hampered. 

With regard to this, it may be said that if the Popes 
gave permission for dissection, then this practice was 
not forbidden by them. Here is the proof of it out of 
the mouths of those who say the opposite. Why should 
a permission be necessary, however, will be asked ? 

At the present moment such formal permissions are 
required quite as much in all civilized countries as they 
were during the Middle Ages. In certain parts of the 
United States a bond has to be filed by applicants before 
permission to dissect will be given. Dissection is recog- 
nized generally as a practice that needs definite regu- 
lation. Without such regulation all sorts of abuses 


would creep in. During the Middle Ages popular feel- 
ing was all against dissection. It was difficult, in many 
places, for the university authorities to obtain permis- 
sion for dissection from their immediate political rulers. 
As a consequence of this they reverted to the theory, 
very generally accepted at that time, that the university 
was independent of the political authorities of the place 
in which it was situated, in educational matters, and an 
appeal was made directly to the ecclesiastical authorities 
for permission to dissect, as coming under their juris- 
diction in education. They had thus obtained many 
other educational privileges that would not have been 
allowed them by municipalities, and they were success- 
ful also in this. Anyone who knows the details of the 
struggle of the universities to maintain the rights of 
their students and faculties against the encroachments 
of municipal and state authorities, will appreciate how 
much this possibility of appeal to the Pope meant for the 
universities of that time. 

The permission to dissect was only another, but a very 
striking example, of ecclesiastical authority granting 
privileges to universities beyond those which they could 
have obtained from the local governments under which 
they existed. Such permissions, far from showing that 
the Popes were hampering or prohibiting dissection, 
prove, on the contrary, that they were securing for edu- 
cational institutions what local popular prejudice would 
not have allowed them. That this is the proper way to 
view this question will be best appreciated by a review 
of the history of anatomy during the two centuries and 
a half in which ecclesiastical authorities are said to have 
prevented or discouraged its development From this it 
will be seen very clearly that the nearer to Rome the 


medical schools were, the more dissection was done in 
them ; that dissection was most common in Rome, at 
least during the latter part of this period ; that the 
golden age of anatomy developed most luxuriantly in 
Bologna when that was a Papal city, and in Rome itself ; 
and that in general the Popes must be looked upon as 
having fostered and patronized the medical sciences and 
anatomy in every possible way, while there is not the 
slightest hint anywhere to be found of the ecclesiastical 
opposition that is supposed to have dominated these cen- 
turies of medical history. 

In concluding this chapter it has seemed worth while 
to trace the origin of the misinterpretation of Pope Boni- 
face's decretal, which makes it forbid dissection for ana- 
tomical purposes as well as the cutting up and boiling of 
bodies in order to facilitate their removal for long dis- 
tances for burial. Prof. White quotes with great confi- 
dence in the matter the Benedictine Literary History of 
France as his authority, which he declares to be a Cath- 
olic authority. Under ordinary circumstances, this 
would be quite sufficient to establish the fact that such 
a misinterpretation must have taken place, for the Bene- 
dictines were extremely careful in such matters and 
were not likely to admit an assertion of this kind, unless 
they had good foundation for it The quotation on 
which Prof. White depends for his declarations in the 
matter is found in the Sixteenth Volume of the Histoire 
Latteraire de la France, which runs as follows : 

"But what was to retard still more (than the prohib- 
ition of surgery to the clergy mentioned in the preceding 
paragraph) was the very ancient prejudice which op- 
posed anatomical dissection as sacrilegious. By a decree 
inserted in Le Sexte, Boniface VIII. forbade the boiling 


of bodies in order to obtain skeletons. Anatomists were 
obliged to go back to Galen for information, and could 
not study the human body directly, and consequently 
could not advance the human science of bodily health 
and therapeutics. ' ' 

Had this been written by the Benedictines, there 
would have been every reason to think that though 
Boniface's decretal itself did not forbid dissection it had 
unfortunately been so misinterpreted. While the His- 
toire Litteraire de la France, however, was begun by the 
Benedictine Congregation of St Maur, their work, like 
many another magnificent undertaking of the monks, 
was interrupted by the French Revolution. What they 
had accomplished up to this time showed the necessity 
for such work, and accordingly in the early part of the 
nineteenth century a continuation of it was undertaken 
by the members of the Institute of France. The Six- 
teenth Volume from which the quotation just cited comes 
was mainly written by Pierre Claude Francjois Daunou, 
the French historian and politician. His life had not 
been such as to make him a sympathetic student of the 
Middle Ages. He had been a deputy to the Convention, 
1792-1795, was elected the first President of the Council 
of 500 in this latter year, and became a member of the 
Tribunate in 1800. His contributions to history were 
made near the close of his life. While he is usually con- 
sidered an authority in the political details of these cen- 
turies, it is easy to understand that he was not favor- 
ably situated for familiarity with the medical history of 
these times. 

Once it is understood that the paragraph in question 
was written by M. Daunou and not by the Benedictines, 
its adventitious prestige as a Catholic historical author- 


ity, to which we shall see presently it has absolutely no 
right, vanishes. A word about M. Daunou will serve to 
show how carefully any declaration of his with regard 
to the Popes must be weighed. He belonged to that 
French school of Catholics who try to minimize in every 
way the influence of the Papacy in the Church, and who, 
as students of history know very well, do not hesitate 
even to twist historical events to suit their prejudices 
and give them a significance detrimental to the Popes. 
This was the principal purpose of Daunou's historical 
writing. There is a little volimie called Outlines of a 
History of the Court of Rome and of the Temporal Power 
of the Popes, declared by the translator to be by Daunou, 
which was published in Philadelphia in 1837. The Amer- 
ican edition was issued as a Protestant tract, and the 
translator states frankly that M. Daunou's purpose in 
composing it was to prove that ** the temporal power of 
the Roman Pontiffs originated in fraud and usurpation ; 
that its influence upon their pastoral ministry has been 
to mar and degrade it, and its continuation is dangerous 
to the peace and the liberties of Europe ; and that its 
constant influence to these effects is to retard the ad- 
vancement of civilization and knowledge. ' ' M. Daunou's 
title for the work as issued originally in French was An 
Historical Essay on the Temporal Power of the Popes 
and on the Abuses which they have made of their Spir- 
itual Ministry.^ 

Everything that M. Daunou has to say with regard to 
the Popes is tinged by his political and Gallican preju- 

^ The time at which this little book was published furnishes the best possible com- 
mentary on its purpose. It was originally issued in 1810, the year after Pope Pius 
Vn. had been carried off from Rome, and when Napoleon was usinsr every effort 
to discredit the Pope and bring: about a state of affairs in which the Pontiff 
would be compelled to accept a Concordat that would deprive the Church of many of 


dices. This is why he states so definitely in the Histoire 
Litteraire de la France that the bull of Pope Boniface 
VIIL, if it did not actually forbid dissection, at least was 
responsible for hampering the practice for two centur- 
ies. That M. Daunou's expressions on this subject have 
been taken so seriously, however, is to me at least a 
never-ending source of surprise. He himself must have 
known nothing at all of the history of dissection, while 
those who accepted his opinion must have carefully 
avoided consulting authorities on the history of anatomy, 
for it is actually just after this bull that the history of 
public dissection begins. It is clear to me, then, that 
this absurd assertion of M. Daunou never would have 
been swallowed so readily only that writers were over- 
anxious to find material to use against the Popes and the 

Daunou found this bull of Boniface an excellent op- 
portunity to discredit the Popes in their relations to 
science. It is true, the bull itself says nothing about 
dissection, nor is there anything in it that would tend to 
create even a distant impression that it was directed 
against anatomical preparations of any kind. We might 
expect, then, that his assertion in this matter would 
have been contradicted at once by some one who would 
read the bull. The bull is, however, not easy to find for 
consultation purposes. It does not occur, as we have 
said, in Le Sexte itself, that is, in the ordinary Sixth 
Book of Papal Decretals, published by Boniface VIIL, 
though Daunou quotes it as from there and without a 

her former rights. It was then really a political pamphlet meant to curry favor with 
Napoleon, and issued anonymously, because even Daunou did not care to put hL name 
to it under the circumstances. This will srive a better idea of how much credence may 
be idven to Daunou's assertions with regard to the Popes of the Middle Affes, than 
any reflections that we could make. 


hint as to where it may be really found. It is in an ap- 
pendix to this work, added after Boniface's death. It 
would be rather difficult, then, and would require some 
special knowledge and no little patience on the part of a 
subsequent collator of historical sources to find the bull, 
unless he were determined on getting at the bottom of 
this whole question. As a consequence Daunou's asser- 
tion has remained practically unchallenged for the better 
part of a century, though many scholars who were famil- 
iar with Boniface's sixth book have doubtless realized 
its falsity, but owing to the fact that they would not or- 
dinarily come across the bull in their direct reading of 
Boniface's famous volume, would not be in a position to 
contradict its misquotation. If looked at in this way, 
Daunou's passage in the Histoire Litteraire would seem 
to be a deliberate and very clever and, unfortunately, 
successful perversion of history. 

Daunou, who was a deep student of Papal affairs and 
whose knowledge of the history of the Papacy would 
not be likely to have missed so important a detail, might 
very well have known, that about a half a century be- 
fore the time when he wrote asserting that this bull of 
Boniface VIII. had prevented dissection, someone who 
had a doubt on the subject asked the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities at Rome, whether this Papal document was to 
be considered as referring in any way to the practice of 
dissection, or the cutting up of human bodies for ana- 
tomical purposes. In reply to this question Pope Benedict 
XIV. made a very direct answer, absolutely in the neg- 
ative. This is the only hint that I know ot in serious 
history that Pope Boniface's bull was ever considered to 
have any reference to dissection for anatomical pur- 
poses. At the time when Pope Benedict XIV. 's answer 


was published the Papal Medical School had been in ex- 
istence for some five centuries and a half. For about 
two centuries and a half it had been distinguished in the 
annals of medicine, and as we shall see in the chapter 
on The Papal Medical School, some of the most distin- 
guished anatomists of their time had been investigating 
and teaching by means of dissections, and their demon- 
strations had been attended by many of the high eccles- 
iastics, even many autopsies had been made on Cardinals. 

Pope Benedict's reply is quoted in full in Puschmann's 
Handbuch der Geschichte der Medizin, Vol. II., page 227, 
in Robert Ritter Von TSply's article on the History of 
Anatomy. It occurs in the midst of an abundance of 
material of great historical importance which shows the 
place that the Popes occupy as patrons of anatomy for 
several centuries. Von Toply has no illusions with re- 
gard to any supposed opposition of the Popes to medical 
science. He even says, that while the older writers 
have always told the story of the development of anat- 
omy as if the Popes tried to prevent the study of it, as 
a matter of fact, there is scarcely any evidence for this, 
and copious evidence for their having done much to fos- 
ter this branch of medical science which they consider 
so important for the healing of the ills of mankind. His 
reference to Boniface's answer with regard to the rela- 
tion of Boniface's bull to dissection runs as follows : 

''Under the heading, Concerning the Dissection of 
Bodies in Public Institutions of Learning, and in reply 
to the question whether the bull of Boniface VIII. for- 
bids the dissection of human bodies, Benedict XIV. said 
(Institute 64) : 

"By the singular beneficence of God the study of 
medicine flourished in a very wonderful manner in this 


city (Rome). Its professors are known for their su- 
preme talents to the remotest parts of the earth. There 
is no doubt that they have greatly benefitted by the dili- 
gent labor which they have devoted to dissection. From 
this practice beyond doubt they have gained a profound 
knowledge of their art and a proficiency that has en- 
abled them to give advice for the benefit of the ailing as 
well as a skill in the curing of disease. Now such dis- 
section of bodies is in no way contrary to the bull of Pope 
Boniface. He indeed imposed the penalty of excommu- 
nication, to be remitted only by the Sovereign Pontiff 
himself, upon all those who would dare to disembowel 
the body of any dead person and either dismember it or 
horribly cut it up, separating the flesh from the bones. 
From the rest of his bull, however, it is clear that this 
I)enalty was only to be inflicted upon those who took 
bodies already buried out of their graves and by an act 
horrible in itself, cut them in pieces in order that they 
might carry them elsewhere and place them in another 
tomb. It is very clear, however, that by this, the dis- 
section of bodies, which has proved so necessary for 
those exercising the profession of medicine, is by no 
means forbidden." ^ 

This whole subject of the Supposed Papal Prohibition 
of Anatomy is typical of a certain form of controversial 
writing against the Church. A document of some time 
or other from the Middle Ages is taken, twisted from its 

^TheorUrinal Latin taken from Puschmann runs thus: "De cadaverum sectione 
fadlenda in publicis Academiis, utrum constitutio Bonifacii VUL section! humanorum 
cadavenun advenetur. Sin^ulari dei beneficio medicinae studium in hac civitate 
(Boma) magnopere floret cujus etiam prof essores ob eximiam virtutem in remotissi- 
mis terras partibus commendantur. Ipsis sane maxime prof uit, quod incidendis mor- 
tnia corporibus dOifirentem operam contulerint. ex qua procul dubio prseclaram artis 
tdentiam,in conaultationibus obeundis prosefirrotorum salute pnestantiam, morbisque 
coraodis peritiam consecuti sunt. .... Porro' hsec monbrorum incisio nullo 


original meaning and set up as a serious stumbling block 
to the development of science or education in some way. 
It is quoted confidently by some one without much au- 
thority. Others who are glad of the opportunity to have 
such an objection to urge against the Papacy, take it up 
eagerly, do not look it up in the original, absolutely fail 
to consider the circumstances in which it was issued, 
and then spread it broadcast Of course it is accepted 
by unthinking readers, whose prejudices lead them to 
believe that this is what was to be expected anyhow. It 
maybe that history, as is the case in anatomy, absolutely 
contradicts the assertion. That makes no difference. 
History is ignored and treatises are written showing 
how much science would have developed only for Papal 
opposition, by people who know nothing at all about the 
real story of the development of science. The real his- 
tory of anatomy, showing very clearly how much was 
done for the science by the Popes and ecclesiastics, will 
be told in the following chapters. 

modo adversatur BonifacU InstitutionL . . . Hie quidem poenam exoommunica- 
tionis indidt Pontifici solo remittendam, iia omnibus qui audeant cuiuscumque de- 
f uncti corpus exenterare, ac illud membratim vel in f rustra immaniter ooncidere ab 
ossibus tesrumentum camis excutere. Tamen ex reliquia ejusdem constitutionis parti- 
bus dare deprebenditnr, banc poenam illis inflisi qui sepulta corpora e tumulis em- 
entes ipsa nefario scelere in f rustra secabant ut alio deferrent, alioque sepulcbro col* 
locarent. Quamobrem membrorum inclsio minime interdidtur, quae adeo ] 
est medidnse facultaton exercentibus." 


We have seen that the supposed prohibition of anat- 
omy by the Popes has no existence in reality. In spite 
of this fact, which it was easy for anyone to ascertain 
who wished to consult the documents asserted to forbid, 
a number of historical writers have insisted on finding 
religious or ecclesiastical, or theological, opposition to 
anatomical studies. Professor White has been most 
emphatic in his assertions in this regard. He admits 
that the supposed bull of prohibition had quite a differ- 
ent purport, yet he still continued to assert its connec- 
tion with the failure of anatomy to develop during the 
Middle Ages. This presumed failure of anatomy during 
the Middle Ages is a myth. It continues to secure cre- 
dence only in the minds of those who know nothing of 
the history of medical science during the thirteenth, 
fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries and who have not 
consulted the serious histories of medicine that treat of 
this time, but flourishes vigorously in the minds of those 
who have a definite purpose in making out a story of 
theological or Church opposition to science in general. 

To counteract the false impression that has gained 
such wide acceptance in this matter, it has seemed ad- 
visable, in order to settle the question definitely once 
and for all, to trace the history of anatomical science 
from its beginning in the Middle Ages down to modem 



times. It will not be hard to show that there was a con- 
stant development and an unfailing interest in this sub- 
ject This can be understood even more clearly from the 
story of the development of surgery in the Middle Ages 
and its relations to anatomy than from the history of 
anatomy itself. As is well known, materials with re- 
gard to practical and applied science interest men more 
at all times, and docimients with regard to them are 
more likely to be preserved, and so the history of sur- 
gery is very full, while the history of anatomy may prove 
not quite so satisfactory. It is true of all sciences, that 
there are periods when they have much less attraction 
than at other times, and the success of investigators and 
original workers is not always the same. As in nearly 
everything else, the real advances in all science come 
when genius makes its mark, and not merely because a 
large number of men happen to be interested in the 
subject. This will be found as true in anatomy as in 
other sciences, and so there are periods when not much 
is doing, but nowhere is there a trace of ecclesiastical 
opposition to account for these variations of interest:. 

There is no doubt at all that there was much popular 
opposition to the practice of dissection in the Middle 
Ages ; that has existed at all times in the world's his- 
tory. It was very pronounced among the old Pagans in 
Rome as well as in Greece, and it prevented anatomical 
study to a very great degree. It continued to exist in 
modem times until almost the present generation. In- 
deed, it has not yet entirely disappeared, as any physi- 
cian who has tried to secure autopsies on interesting 
cases knows very well. The New York Academy of 
Medicine is only a little over a half century old, and yet 
nearly every one of its early presidents had thrilling ex- 


periences in body-snatching as a young man, because no 
proper provision for the supplying of anatomical mate- 
rial had as yet been made by law, and bodies had to be 
obtained. The feeling of objection to having the bodies 
of friends anatomized is natural and not due to religion. 
It exists quite as strongly among the ignorant who have 
no religion as among the religiously inclined. It has not 
disappeared among the educated classes of our own 
time, religious or irreligious. If this is borne in mind, 
the history of the development of anatomy will be easier 
to imderstand. 

The first definite evidence in modem history for the 
existence of the practice of dissection is a famous law 
of the German Emperor, Frederick II., from the first 
half of the thirteenth century. This law was promul- 
gated for the two Sicilies, that is, for Southern Italy and 
Sicily proper, very probably in the year 1240. It has 
often been vaguely referred to, but its actual signifi- 
cance can only be understood from the terms of the law 
itself, which has been literally translated by Von Toply 
in his Studien Zur Geschichte der Anatomie in Im Mit- 
telalter.^ The paragraph with regard to dissection runs 
as follows : 

*' As an enactment that will surely prove beneficial to 
health, we decree that no surgeon will be allowed to 
practice, in case he has not a written testimonial, which 
he must present to the teachers in the medical faculty, 
that he has for at least a year applied himself to that 
department of medicine which is concerned with the 
teaching and practice of surgery, and that he has, above 
all, learned the anatomy of the human body in this man- 
ner, and that he is fully competent in this department 

^DeatiekeLeipsiff mid Wien. 1896. 


of medicine, without which neither surgery can be un- 
dertaken with success nor sufferers cured. "^ 

Such a regulation, as pointed out by Professor Pilcher 
in an article on the early history of dissection, ^ and as 
we know by modem experience, does not come into force 
as a rule before the actual practice of what is prescribed, 
has been for some time the custom and its usefulness 
proved by the results attained. It seems very probable, 
then, that even at this early day the Emperor Frederick 
was only making into a law what had been at least a 
custom before this time. Lest anyone should think that 
this is a far-fetched assimiption, certain other para- 
graphs of this law, which show very definitely the high 
degree to which the development of medical teaching 
had reached, must be recalled. Frederick declared that 
medicine could only be learned if there was a proper 
groundwork of logic. Only after three years devoted to 
logic, then, under which term is included the grammar 
and philosophy of an ordinary undergraduate course, 
could a man take up the study of medicine. After three 
years devoted to medicine, to which it is again specific- 
ally declared another year must be added if surgery 
were to be practiced, a man might be given his degree 
in medicine, but must spend a subsequent full year in 
the practical study of medicine under the supervision of 
an experienced physician. 

The law further decreed definite punishments for the 
practice of medicine without due warrant and violation 
of its regulations, and also regulated the practice of 
apothecaries. It is rather interesting to find that these 

^ The complete text of this law. which is a marvelous anticipation of all our efforts 
for the r^rulation of the practice of medicine down even to the present day, will be 
found in the appendix. 

2 The Mondino Myth, Medical Library and Historical Journal. 1906. 


were forbidden to share their profits with physicians, 
and the physicians themselves were not allowed to dis- 
tribute their own medicines. In a word, practically every 
one of the problems in the practice of medicine which 
medical societies are trying to solve at the present mo- 
ment, were also occupying the attention of the civil au- 
thorities about seven centuries ago. Anyone who reads 
this law will not be loath to believe that it represents 
the culmination of a series of efforts to regulate medical 
practice, and especially medical education, and that it 
was not merely a chance legal utterance that happened 
to touch a single important question for the first time. 
One of the paragraphs of the law even contains some 
clauses that would prevent fake medical schools and 
that establishes a board of medical examiners. This 
consisted of certain state officials and some professors of 
the art of medicine. In a word, medical education had 
reached a high grade of development, and medical prac- 
tice was legally established on a high plane of profes- 
sional dignity. 

Salerno had already enjoyed a high reputation as a 
medical school for more than two centuries when Fred- 
erick's law was promulgated. It is true that we have 
no definite records of dissections done in the school. If 
these were not an uncommon occurrence, however, but 
came as did dissections later on, quite as a matter of 
course, the absence of such records, when we recall how 
liable to destruction were the meagre accounts of the 
university transactions of the time during the long 
period that has intervened and because of the many 
vicissitudes they were liable to, is not surprising. Dur- 
ing the century following this decree there seems to be 
no doubt that dissections were done regularly, though 


perhaps not very frequently from our modem stand- 
point, at Salerno. Salerno, as we shall see in the chap- 
ter on The Papal Medical School, was always closely in 
touch with the ecclesiastical authorities, and especially 
with the Papacy. There was no hint of friction of any 
kind, either before or after this law of Frederick's. The 
question of ecclesiastical interference with dissection 
does not seem to have arisen at all, much less to have 
proved an obstacle to the development of medical sci- 

At the beginning of the fourteenth century the center 
of interest in anatomy and the matter of dissections 
shifts to Bologna. We have already discussed the ques- 
tion whether Mondino was the first to do public anato- 
mies, and as to whether he performed only the few that 
by a narrow misunderstanding of certain of his own 
words have sometimes been ascribed to him. Professor 
Pilcher, in the article The Mondino Myth, already cited, 
is of the opinion, and gives excellent reasons for it, that 
Taddeo, the great Bolognese physician of the thirteenth 
century, who was Mondino's master, had done at least 
some dissections in Bologna. Personally I have long felt 
sure that Taddeo or Thaddeus, as he is sometimes called 
in the Latin form of his name, did not a few, but a nimi- 
ber of dissections. 

Professor Pilcher's accoimt of him does not exaggerate 
his merits. I may say that he was one of the great Papal 
physicians of whom we shall have more to tell hereafter. 

''Any comprehensive attempt to trace the real influ- 
ences to which was due so great a step as a return to 
the practice of dissections of the human body, seems to 
me must be very defective if it failed to take into con- 
sideration the influence of such a man as Thaddeus (Ital- 


ian Taddeo) . That he was able tx) impress himself in the 
way in which history records that he did, both upon the 
general public and upon the scholastic foundations of 
Bologna, shows a strength of character and a mastery 
of the peculiar conditions of the moment in the fields of 
science and philosophy which made him a master and an 
inspirer. If he is to be considered in his proper histori- 
cal light, as one who declares that the knowledge of 
the structure of the human body to a most minute de- 
gree is the foundation upon which all rational medicine 
and surgery must be built, then it is impossible to exag- 
gerate the importance of the pivotal moment when, in 
the development of science, the himian body began to 
be anatomized. Nor is any fault to be found with the 
custom which has crowned with the laurels of universal 
appreciation the names of those men who began and 
who continued anatomical study, who vulgarized the 
practice of dissection. 

"In my own investigations and reflections upon the 
conditions which led up to this happy renewal of scien- 
tific search into the composition of the body of man, it 
has seemed to me that writers have hitherto fallen short 
of tracing through to its ultimate source, the earlier 
spirit of enthusiasm for knowledge, of insight into the 
problems of disease, and of contempt for traditionary 
shackles, to the influence of which, as shown by the 
master, Taddeo, the latter work of the pupil, Mondino, 
was in great measure due. " 

Medici, in his History of the School of Anatomy at 
Bologna,^ quotes Sarti on The Distinguished Professors 
of the University of Bologna for proof of Taddeo's fam- 
iliarity with dissection. Von T6ply does not think that 

^ Medid Compendio Storico DeOa ScuoU Anatomica de Bologrna, 36losna. 1887. 


this quotation is enough absolutely to prove that Taddeo 
had done dissections, yet it would be hard to understand 
it unless some such interpretation is made. Taddeo was 
asked to decide a medico-legal question with regard to 
a pregnant woman. He refused, however, with a mod- 
esty that might well be commended to medico-legal ex-r 
perts of more modem times, to answer the question 
decisively, because he had never made a dissection of a 
pregnant woman. Sarti argues that it is evident from 
this that he had dissected other bodies more easy to ob- 
tain than those of pregnant women, or else that he had 
had the opportunity to make observations on them when 
dissected by others. 

Certain of Taddeo's contemporaries must have had the 
incentive of his example to help them to a knowledge of 
human anatomy, for they surely could not have accom- 
plished all that they did in surgery without experience 
in dissection, yet Taddeo was looked up to as a master 
by all of them. 

Anyone who has read the contributions to surgery of 
William of Salicet and his great pupil Lanfranc, even if 
only what we give with regard to them in our chapter 
on Surgery during the Middle Ages, cannot but be im- 
pressed with the idea that they must have done himian 
dissections. They do not mention this fact explicitly, 
but portions of their surgical works are taken up with 
the consideration of applied anatomy. They discuss the 
relations of various structures to one another, especially 
with reference to the surgery of them. Von Toply, in 
his Studies on the History of Anatomy in the Middle 
Ages, says that the anatomies written before William's 
chapters on applied anatomy, were most of them purely 
theoretic discussions meant to be guides for internal 


medicine, or else they were very short directions for 
those who undertook the practical work of the dismem- 
berment of bodies, usually, however, witH reference to 
animals rather than to human bodies. In William of 
Salicet we encounter, he says, for the first time a treat- 
ise on anatomy made with the deliberate purpose of its 
application to practical surgery. Everywhere William 
gives hints for surgical operations with special reference 
to the anatomical relations. 

Puccinotti quotes from William of Salicet's surgery, 
written about 1270, a passage that shows how familiar 
this surgeon must have been with dissection. The 
nephew of C!ount Pallavicini received an arrow wound 
in the jugular vein and died within an hour. During his 
death agony he suffered from a peculiar form of rattle 
in his throat. It was thought that this might be due to 
the fact that the arrow had been poisoned. William was 
called in to decide this question, and found that there 
was nothing responsible for his death except the wound 
itself. He describes how he found the blood in the lungs 
and in the heart, and considers that the conditions that 
were present were due to the wound. Von Toply has 
suggested that William would have given more details 
had he actually examined these organs, but when the 
autopsy report is negative, such descriptive details are 
not usual even at the present time. If he had found 
reason for thinking that there was poison in the case, a 
careful description of the other organs would be neces- 
sary. The fact, however, that he was asked to decide 
such a question, would seem to indicate that he was sup- 
posed to have a knowledge of the normal appearances of 
human tissues when examined by dissection. 

In everything else Lanfranc went farther than his 


master William, and he did so also in anatomy. Some 
of the details of his work will be found in our chapter 
on Surgery in the Middle Ages. He could not have been 
able to give the detailed instructions that he has for the 
treatment of every portion of the body only that he knew 
them by actual contact in the cadaver as well as the pa- 
tient. His outlook upon scientific medicine and surgery 
would satisfy even the most exacting of modem experi- 
mental scientists. The famous aphorism of his runs as 
follows : ''Every science which depends on operation is 
greatly strengthened by experience." More than any- 
thing else, however, surgery owes to Lanf ranc the dis- 
tinct advantage that he carried into the West as far as 
Paris, the methods which had come into existence in 
Italy, and were ever after to prove a precious heritage 
in the great French University. As Salicet's work was 
carried on by Lanfranc, at least as well was Lanfranc's 
work further advanced by his pupil and successor in the 
chair of surgery, Henri de Mondeville. This subject of 
surgical development will be treated in the chapter on 
Surgery in the Middle Ages. Here it is introduced only 
to emphasize the opportunity there must have been for 
anatomical study through dissection in the thirteenth 
century, or these men would not have made the marvel- 
ous progress they actually accomplished in this depart- 

With regard to Mondino, Taddeo's successor at Bo- 
logna, enough has been said already in the preceding 
chapter. About this time, however, very definite evi- 
dence begins to accumulate of the frequent practice of 
dissection. Roth, whose life of Vesalius is a standard 
work in the history of anatomy, has summed up most of 
what we know with regard to dissections in the early 


part of the fourteenth century, in his chapter on Dissec- 
tion Before Vesalius's Time. Roth's work is well known 
and is frequently referred to in Dr. White's History of 
the Warfare of Science with Theology. There can be 
no question, then, but that in taking what Roth has to 
say I shall be quoting from a work with regard to which 
there can be no hint even of partiality. Roth himself 
was a Swiss, with no leaning toward the Church. There 
are certain portions of his book, indeed, in which he is 
inclined not to allow that the Church did as much for 
education in these times as she actually did. His study 
of the rise of anatomy can be accepted with absolute as- 
surance, that it is at least not written from the stand- 
point of one who wants to make the situation with re- 
gard to anatomy more favorable than it actually was 
during the fourteenth century, for the sake of showing 
any lack of opposition on the part of ecclesiastics. 

Some of the material that Roth has made use of has 
already been referred to in the preceding chapter, but it 
has seemed proper to repeat it here because this gives a 
connected account from a definite authority in the his- 
tory of medicine, and especially of anatomy, with regard 
to the century inmiediately following the promulgation of 
Boniface's bull. Besides, it gives an opportunity for such 
comments on various features of the history of anatomy, 
as he details it, as will bring out the significance of his 
remarks. His account will make it very clear that, far 
from the Papal bull in question having been universally 
construed as prohibiting dissections, as Dr. White says 
it was, it never entered into the minds of medieval anat- 
omists to consider it as having any such signification. 
The bull was never thought of in that sense at all. It 
does not refer to anatomy or dissection and it never had 


any place in the history of anatomy until dragged into 
it without warrant by Daunou and other nineteenth cen- 
tury writers. Roth says : 

'*In the pre-Vesalian period the dissection of the hu- 
man body was practiced, according to the terms of Fred- 
erick's law, for the instruction of those about to become 
physicians and surgeons. The natural place for this 
school anatomy— for a dissection was called anatomia, 
or, erroneously, anatomia publica— was at the universities 
and the medical schools. Apart from teaching institu- 
tions, however, public anatomies were held in Strasburg 
and in Venice. Their purpose was the instruction of the 
practicing medical personnel of these towns. Dissections 
which were not made for general instruction were called 
private anatomies. They were performed for the benefit 
of a few physicians, or students, or magistrates, or art- 
ists. Private anatomies began to have special impor- 
tance only toward the end of the pre-Vesalian period 
(this would be about the end of the fifteenth and the 
first quarter of the sixteenth century). It is a play of 
chance that the first historical reference to a dissection 
concerns a private anatomy, one undertaken for the pur- 
pose of making a legal autopsy. This was made in Bo- 
logna in the year 1302 (two years after the decretal sup- 
posed to forbid dissection). A certain Azzelino died 
with unexpected suddenness, after his physicians had 
visited him once. A magistrate suspected poison and 
commissioned two physicians and three surgeons to de- 
termine the cause of death. It was found that death 
resulted from natural causes. (As I have said, it 
would appear that this was not an unusual procedure, 
for unless medical autopsies had been done before, it 
does not seem probable that this method of deter- 


mining the cause of death would have been so readily 
taken up.) 

"Thirteen years later there is an account of the dis- 
section of two female bodies, in January and March of 
the year 1315, performed by Mundinus." (We have al- 
ready seen that the fact that the two female bodies 
should be especially mentioned, though taken by some 
historians of medicine to indicate that Mundinus had 
done but few dissections, will not stand such an inter- 
pretation, in the light of the evidence that he had dis- 
sected many male bodies at least, as his text-book of 
anatomy indeed makes very clear. These two dissec- 
tions of females happened only to have special features 
that made them noteworthy.) **A few years later 
(1319) there is a remarkable document which tells the 
story of body-snatching for dissecting purposes. " (This 
would seem to be sufficient of itself to show that a 
number of dissections were being done, and, indeed, 
as I have already said, Rashdall, in his History of the 
Universities, states that, according to the University 
statutes teachers were bound to dissect such bodies as 
students brought to them.) Roth concludes with the 
words (italics are mine): ** These are a few, but weighty 
testimonies for the zeal with which Bologna pursued anat- 
omy in the fourteenth century/' (I may add that all of 
these concern the twenty years immediately following 
Pope Boniface's supposed prohibition.) 
• Nor was the custom of making dissections any less 
active during the rest of the half century after the time 
when, if we are to believe Professor White, the decree of 
Boniface had been universally interpreted to forbid it. 
In a note to his history of dissection during this period 
in Bologna, Roth says : ** Without doubt the passage in 


Guy de Chauliac which tells of having very often (mul- 
titoties, many times, is the exact word) seen dissections 
must be considered as referring to Bologna." This pas- 
sage runs as follows: "My master, Bertruccius, con- 
ducted the dissection very often after the following man- 
ner : The dead body having been placed upon a bench, 
he used to make four lessons on it First, the nutri- 
tional portions were treated, because they are so likely 
to become putrified. In the second, he demonstrated 
the spiritual members ; in the third, the animate mem- 
bers ; in the fourth, the extremities. " (Guy de Chauliac 
was at Bologna studying under Bertruccius just before 
the middle of the fourteenth century. It is evident 
beyond all doubt, from what he says, that dissections 
were quite conunon. This is during the first fifty years 
after the decree. I shall show a little later that there 
are records of dissections during the second half of this 
century. Roth, however, goes on to tell next of the fif- 
teenth century. ) 

Roth says nothing about the decree of Boniface VIII., 
nor of any possible effect that it had upon anatomy. 
The real historian, of course, does not mention things 
that have not happened. Roth confesses, as I have said, 
that he takes the material for his sketch of anatomy be- 
fore Vesalius's time from Corradi.^ Corradi being an 
Italian, and knowing of the slander with regard to the 
Papal decree, explicitly denies it. Surely, here is ma- 
terial enough to convince anyone that all that Profes^r 
White has said with regard to the supposed effect of the 
misinterpretation of Boniface's decree is without foun- 
dation in the history of anatomy. Within twenty years 

1 Corradi Dello Studio e dell* Inse^rnamento dell* Anatomia in Italia nel Medio Evo 
ed in parte del Cinquecento. Padova. 1873. 


after the bull was issued dissection was practiced to such 
an extent, that body-snatching became so conunon that 
there were prosecutions for it, and public dissections 
seem to have been held every year in the universities of 
of Italy during most of the fourteenth century. 

De Renzi ^ gives an interesting account of the methods 
by which material was obtained for dissection purposes 
before governments made any special provision for this 
purpose. Naturally, the rifling of graves was resorted to 
by students intensely interested in the subject of anat- 
omy. The first criminal prosecution for body-snatching 
on record is in 1319, when some students brought a body 
to one Master Albert, a lecturer in medicine at the Uni- 
versity at Bologna, and he dissected it for them. At 
this time, according to the statutes of the university, 
teachers of anatomy were bound to make a dissection if 
the students supplied the body. The whole party were 
brought to trial for this offence, though they do not seem 
to have suffered any severe penalty for their violation of 
the laws. At this time, according to De Renzi, there 
was a rage for dissection and many bodies were yearly 
obtained surreptitiously for the purpose. 

With regard to the bodies of condemned criminals, 
people began to countenance the procedure, and while 
unwilling as yet to give them freely, allowed the bodies 
to be taken. Corradi, quoted by Puschmann, says * ' that 
laws against the desecration of graves, without being 
abolished, became a dead letter. The authorities inter- 
fered only if decided violence had been used or a great 
scandal raised. Such consequences were likely to follow 
only if, in the ardor of their enthusiasm for anatomical 
knowledge, students rifled the graves of well-known 

iDe Renxi Storia della Medicina in Italia. Napoli. 1845-49. Vol. U., p. 247. 


persons or took the bodies of those whose relatives dis- 
covered the desecration and proceeded against the mar 
rauders by legal measures." 

At the Italian universities after the middle of the four- 
teenth century there is abundant evidence for perfect 
freedom with regard to dissection. We have already 
shown by our quotation from Roth that Bertrucci was 
very active in dissection work and did many public dis- 
sections. He was followed by Pietro di Argelata, who 
died toward the end of the fourteenth century. These 
men followed Mondino in the chair of anatomy at Bo- 
logna, and Julius Pagel, in his chapter on Anatomy and 
Physiology in Puschmann's Handbuch der (Jeschichte 
der Medizin (Vol. L, p. 707), says that '*the successors 
of Mondino were in a position, owing to the gradual en- 
lightenment of the spirit of the time and the general 
reaUzation of the importance of anatomy as well as the 
fostering liberality of the authorities, to make regular^ 
systematic dissections of the human body.'' This would 
bring us down, then, to the end of the fourteenth cen- 

To return now to Roth, who takes up the next century. 
He says : 

**For the fifteenth century, the university statutes of 
Bologna for the year 1405 furnish many sources of in- 
formation. There is a special division which is concerned 
with the annual anatomy or dissection that had to be 
made and the selection of the persons to be present, the 
payment of the expenses and other details. An addition 
to the statutes, made in the year 1442, determines the 
arrangement of the delivery of the body from the city 
to the university authorities. Every year two bodies, 
one male and one female, must be provided for the med- 


ical school dissections. In default of a female body, a 
second male body was to be provided. In the presence 
of such detailed regulations, the absence almost entirely 
of details as to the actual performance of dissections can 
mean very little. Bologna reached its highest develop- 
metlt as a medical school at the beginning of the six- 
teenth century when Alexander Achillinus and Jacob 
Berengarius had charge of the public dissections there. 
Of these I shall speak later.'' (All this is at the Uni- 
versity of Bologna, where ecclesiastical influence was 
supreme and where the Popes exercised their jurisdic- 
tion as the ultimate authority to be appealed to in all 
disputed educational questions.) 

Roth continues : ''Padua had, like Bologna, dissection 
in the fourteenth century. There is the record of a dis- 
section made in the year 1341, in which (Jentilis made 
the discovery of a gall-stone." (It is evidently not be- 
cause the dissection was unusual, but because the dis- 
covery was unusual, that this incident is mentioned. 
The dissections were such ordinary occurrences as not 
to deserve special mention except for some particular 

** Much more is known about dissection at Padua in 
the fifteenth century, when the city had become Vene- 
tian." ^ (It is significant to note that the previous oc- 
currence was in pre-Venetian days, for Professor White 
insists that it was the Venetian authorities, in opposition 
to the Pope, who allowed dissection at Padua. Here is 
the rebuttal of any such theory. ) ** Bertapaglia, in his 
Surgery, has the record of the dissection of a criminal 
made under the direction of Master Hugo De Senis, on 

^ Note that tfaia is a full century before Vesalius's time, who. Professor White in- 
•isti. re intr oduced dissection. 


the 8th of February, 1429. On the 4th of April, 1430, 
the dissection of a woman was made. In 1444 Professor 
Montagnana speaks of fourteen dissections at which he 
had been present." (This would seem to indicate that 
dissections were quite common and that the occasional rec- 
ords of them give no proper idea of their actual number. ) 
I would not wish to produce the impression, however, 
that Italy was the only place in Europe in which dissec- 
tions were freely done during the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries. There is no doubt that anatomy and surgery 
and every branch of medicine was cultivated much more 
assiduously and with much better opportunities pro- 
vided for students down in Italy, than anywhere else in 
the world. This of itself alone shows the utter absurd- 
ity of the declarations that the Church was opposed to 
medical progress in any way, since the nearer the center 
of Christendom, the more ardor there was for investiga^ 
tion and the more liberty to pursue original researches. 
Other countries also began to wake up to the spirit of pro- 
gress in medical education that was abroad. In France 
there were two centers of interest in anatomy. One of 
these was at Montpelier, the other at Paris. It is inter- 
esting to note, however, that the men to whom anatom- 
ical progress is due at these universities obtained their 
training, or at least had taken advantage of the special 
opportunities provided for anatomical investigation to be 
had, in the Italian cities. Guy de Chauliac I have 
already mentioned. He is spoken of as the Father of 
Modem Surgery, and there is no doubt that he did much to 
set surgery on a very practical basis and to make anat- 
omy a fundamental feature of the training for it He 
declared that it was absurd to think that surgeons could 
do good work unless they knew their anatomy. 


Under his fostering care the study of anatomy flourished 
to a remarkable degree at the University of Montpelier. 
The difficulty hitherto had been that it was very hard t6 
procure bodies for dissecting purposes. It is easy to 
understand that friends of the dead would always pre- 
vent dissections as far as they could. They do so even 
at the present moment, and there are not many of us 
who find it in our hearts to blame them over much for 
it Few of us are ready to make the sacrifice of our 
own dead. Even the poor in those days had friends 
who prevented the cutting up of their remains; for 
large alms-houses were not presided over by paid offi^ 
cials, but by religious, to whom their poor in their 
friendlessness appealed as kindred. There were not 
many prisons, and they were not needed because all 
felonies were punished by death. Guy de Chauliac real- 
ized that here was the best opportunity to procure bodies. 
Accordingly it was mainly through his instrumentality 
that a regulation was made handing over the dead 
bodies of malefactors to the medical school for dissect- 
ing purposes. It must be recalled that when he did this 
the Papal court was at Avignon, in the South of France, 
and exerted great infiuence over the University of Mont- 
pelier, situate not far away. 

The reputation of the University of Paris is such that 
we should not expect her to be backward in this im- 
portant 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. Lanf ranc, 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 teach- 
ings by means of dissections. Lanf ranc 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 develop- 
ment would seem necessarily to demand attention to 

With the Renaissance, which is usually said to begin 
after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and the con- 
sequent dispersion of Greek scholars throughout Italy, a 
new spirit entered into anatomy as into every other de- 
partment of intellectual life at this time. The reason 
for it is not easy to explain. Perhaps the spread of 
Greek texts with regard to medicine inspired students 
and teachers to try out their problems for themselves, 
and so a new impetus was given to anatomical investiga- 
tion. Whatever it was that caused it, the new move- 
ment came unhampered by the Church, and Italy con- 


tinued to be even to a greater degree than before the 
Mecca for medical students who wished to do original 
work in anatomy. During the last fifty years of the 
fifteenth century anatomy began its modem phase, and 
original work of a very high order was accomplished. 
There are five names that deserve to be mentioned in 
this period. They are Gabriele Zerbi, Achillini, Beren- 
gar of Carpi, Matthew of Gradi and Benivieni. Each 
of these men did work that was epoch-making in anat- 
omy, and each has a place in the history of the science 
that will never be lost 

Zerbi, who did his work at Verona, traced the olfac- 
tory nerves and describes the nerve supply of the special 
senses more completely than it had ever been done 
before. After his time it was only a question of filling 
in the details of this subject. Achillini added much to 
our knowledge of the anatomy of the head, being the 
first to describe the small bones of the ear and also to 
recognize the orifices of Wharton's ducts. Besides this, 
which would have been quite enough to have given him 
a place in the history of anatomy, he added important 
details to what had been previously known with regard 
to the intestines, and described very clearly the ileo- 
cecal valve and suggested its function. Matthew of 
Gradi, or De Gradibus, was the first, according to Pro- 
fessor Turner in his article on Anatomy in the Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica, who represented the ovaries in the 
correct light as regards their anatomical relations and 
their function. 

The most important of these fifteenth century investi- 
gators in pure anatomy, however, is Berengarius or Ber- 
engar of Carpi, who did his work at Bologna at the end 
of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth cen- 


tury. His commentaries on Mondino's work show how 
much he added to that great teacher's instruction. If 
he had no other distinction than that of having been the 
first to imdertake a systematic view of the several tex- 
tures of which the body is composed, it would have been 
sufficient to stamp him as a great original worker in anat- 
omy. He treats successively of the anatomical characters 
and properties of fat, of membrane in general, of flesh, of 
nerve, of villus or fibre, of ligament, of sinew or tendon, 
and of muscle in general. Almost needless to say, he 
must have made many dissections to obtain such clear 
details of information, and, as we shall see, he probably 
did make many hundreds. If he had done nothing else 
but be the first to mention the vermiform appendix, it 
would have been quite sufficient to give him a distinction 
in our day. Everything that he touched, however, he 
illuminated. His anatomy of the fetus was excellent. 
He was the first to note that the chest of the male was 
larger than in the female, while the capacity of the 
female pelvis was in the opposite ratio. In the larynx 
he discovered the two arytenoid cartilages. He recog- 
nized the opening of the common biliary duct, and was 
the first to give a good description of the thymus gland. 
All this, it must be remembered, before the end of the 
second decade of the sixteenth century, that is, almost 
before Vesalius was born. 

Berengar's work was done at Bologna. Some five 
years before his death Bologna became a Papal city. 
There is no sign, however, that this change in the 
political fortunes of the city made any difference in 
Berengar's application to his favorite studies in anatomy. 
As we shall see in the chapter on The Papal Medical 
School, already the Popes were laying the foundations 


of their own great medical school in Rome, in which 
anatomy was to be cultivated above all the other sciences, 
so that there would be no reason to expect from other 
sources of historical knowledge any interruption of 
Berengar's work, and it did not come. 

A fifth great student of anatomy during the fifteenth 
century was Benivieni, who has been neglected in the 
ordinary histories of anatomy because his work con- 
cerned itself almost exclusively with pathological, not 
with normal anatomy. In our increasing interest in 
I)athology during the nineteenth century, he has very 
properly come in for his due share of attention. Profes- 
sor Allbutt, in his address on the Historical Relations of 
Medicine and Surgery down to the Sixteenth Century, 
declares that Benivieni should be revered as the fore- 
runner of Morgagni and as one of the greatest physicians 
of the late Middle Ages. Benivieni's life occupies almost 
exactly the second half of the fifteenth century, as he 
was bom probably in 1448, and died in 1502. Allbutt 

*' He was not a professor, but an eminent practitioner 
in Florence, at a period when, in spite of its Platonism, 
Florence on the whole was doing most for science ; for 
as Bologna turned to law, Padua turned to humanism 
and philosophy. He was one of those fresh and inde- 
pendent observers who, like Mondeville, was oppressed 
by the authority neither of Arab nor Greek.'' 

We are not interested, however, at the present time in 
what he accomplished for surgery, though there are a 
number of features of his work, including the crushing 
of stone in the bladder and his puncture of the hjrmen 
for retained menses, as well as his methods of division 
and slow extension of the cicatricial contractions result- 


ing from bums near the elbow, which place him among 
the most ingenious and original of surgical thinkers. It 
is his interest in dissection that commends him to us 
here. He must have done a very great number of 

His interest in the causes of disease was so great that 
he seems to have taken every possible opportunity to 
search out changes in organs which would account for 
sjrmptoms that he had observed. His place in anatomy 
and the history of pathology has not been properly ap- 
preciated in this matter, and Professor AUbutt claims 
for him the title of Father of Pathology, rather than for 
those to whom it has been given, and demands for his 
work done in Florence during the second half of the fif- 
teenth century the credit of laying the real foundation- 
stones of the great science of pathological anatomy. 
Unfortunately, he died comparatively young and with- 
out having had time properly to publish his own contribu- 
tions to medical science. Professor Allbutt says :— 

**The little book De abditis causis morborum (brief 
title), was not published in any form by Antony Beni- 
vieni himself, but posthumously by his brother Jerome, 
who found these precious notes in Antony's desk after 
his death, and with the hearty cooperation of a friend 
competent in the subject, published them in 1506 in a 
form which no doubt justly merits our admiration. 
Benivieni's chief fame for us is far more than all 
this ; it is that he was the founder of pathological anat- 
omy. So far as I know, he was the first to make the 
custom and to declare the need of necropsy to reveal 
what he called not exactly ''the secret causes," but the 
hidden causes of diseases. Before Vesalius, before 
Eustachius, he opened the bodies.of the dead as deliber- 


ately and clear-sightedly as any pathologist in the 
spacious time of Baillie, Bright and Addison. Virchow, 
in his address at Rome, said Morgagni was the first 
pathological anatomist who, instead of asking What is 
disease ? asked Where is it ? 

But Benivieni asked this question plainly before Mor- 
gagni : "Not only,'* says he,** must we observe the 
disease, but also with more diligence search out the seat 
of if The precept is so important, I will quote the 
original words: ''Oportet igitur medicum non solum 
morbimi cognoscere, sed et locum in quo fit, diligentius 

Among the pathological reports are morbus coxae (two 
cases) ; biliary calculus (two cases) ; abscess of the me- 
sentery, thrombosis of the mesenteric vessels ; stenosis 
of the intestine ; some remarkable cardiac cases, several 
of "pol3T)Us'' (clot, which was a will-of-the-wisp to the 
elder pathologists) ; scirrhus of the pylorus, and proba- 
bly another case in the colon; ruptured bowel (two 
cases) ; caries of ribs with exposure of the heart He 
gives a good description of senile gangrene which even 
Par6 did not discriminate. He seems to have had re- 
markable success in obtaining necropsies ; concerning 
one fatal case he says plaintively, ''Sed nescio qua su- 
perstitione versi negantibus cognatis,'* etc. Of another 
he says, ''cadavere publicae utilitatis gratia inciso " (the 
case of cancer of the stomach). With this admirable 
and original leader, Italian medicine of the fifteenth 
century closes gloriously, to slumber for some fifty 
years, till the dayspring of the new learning. Of his 
work Malpighi says, and apparently with truth, ''up to 
now it is the only work in pathology which owes nothing 
to anyone." 


This should be enough, it seems to me, to settle the 
question that anatomy was permitted very freely before 
Versalius's time. I have said it in other places, but it 
may be well to recall here, that Berengar did his dissec- 
tion at Bologna just before and after the time it became 
a Papal city and when Papal influence was very strong. 
In spite of the fact that in 1512 Bologna passed under 
the dominion of the Popes, there is no question of any 
interruption or hampering of Berengar's work in anat- 
omy, and as a matter of fact, this great anatomist did 
not succeed to the professorship of anatomy, which had 
been held up to this time by Achillini, until in the very 
year when Bologna came under Papal sway, and had his 
opportunity to do his independent work only after this. 
Professor Turner can scarcely find words strong enough 
to set down his admiration for Berengar and his work. 
Besides what we have already quoted he says that, ** the 
science of anatomy boasts in Berengar of one of its most 
distinguished founders." 

The distinguished Edinburgh anatomist harbors no 
illusions with regard to any supposed opposition of the 
Church to dissection or to the development of anatomy. 
As a life-long student of anatomy who knew the history 
of his favorite science, he appreciated very well just 
who had been the great workers in it and where their work 
had been done. He says that ''Italy long retained the 
distinction of giving birth to the first eminent anatomists 
in Europe, and the glory she acquired in the names of 
Mondino, Achillini, Berengar of Carpi, and Massa was 
destined to become more conspicuous in the labors of 
Columbus, Fallopius and Eustachius." These are the 
greatest names in the history of anatomy down to the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, with the single 
exception of Vesalius. 


All this of anatomical development in Italy at universi- 
ites that were directly under the ecclesiastical authorities 
would seem to settle all question of interference by the 
Popes or the Church with any phase of anatomical de- 
velopment It does not seem sufficient for Dr. White, 
however. When I called attention to all these details of 
the history of anatomy, long before the reformation and 
before Vesalius, Dr. White's response was the following 
paragraph in which he explains how dissection came to be 
practiced at all, and reiterates not only his belief that Pope 
Boniface's bull prevented dissection, but even insists on 
what cannot but seem utterly absurd to any one who has 
read even the brief account I have given here, that ex- 
cept at one or two places, and then only to a very limited 
degree, dissection was not practiced at all. Here is how 
the history of dissection must be viewed according to 
Dr. White : - 

" But Dr. Walsh elsewhere falls back on the fact that 
shortly after the decree of Pope Boniface VIII., which 
struck so severe a blow at dissection, the Venetian 
Senate passed a decree ordaining that a dissection of the 
human body should be made every year in the city of 
Venice, and he leaves his readers to conclude that this 
effectually proves that dissection had not really been 
discouraged by the Pope. The very opposite conclusion 
would be deduced by anyone familiar with the relations 
between the Republic of Venice and the Papacy. These 
two powers were always struggling against each other ; 
again and again the Venetian Republic, in maintaining 
its rights, braved the Papal interdicts. The fact that it 
allowed dissections, so far from proving that the Pope 
allowed them, would seem to prove that in this case, 
and in so many other cases, and especially that of Vesa- 


lius of Padua, the Venetian Senate sought to show the 
Vatican that it would yield none of its rights to clerical 
control. This very fact— that Venice refused to be 
bound with regard to anatomical investigation by an 
order from the Vatican— seems to be entirely in the line 
with all the other facts in the case, which show that the 
Roman court had committed itself, most unfortunately, 
against the main means of progress in anatomy and 

Here then is the answer that a modem historian 
and educator makes to all the representations with re- 
gard to the development of anatomy and the practice of 
dissection during the Middle Ages. If the practice of 
dissection was permitted it was in spite of the Popes. 
The fact that there were a dozen of medical schools in 
Italy at which dissection was carried on is ignored. The 
great anatomists of the fourteenth and fifteenth cen- 
turies simply did not exist— Dr. White knows nothing 
about them. There must be no admission that the Popes 
permitted dissection or any other form of science. Dr. 
White makes his last stand by a really marvelous tour 
d'esprit It was Venice defying the Vatican that per- 
mitted dissection. This, he supposes, may help him, for 
anatomy did develop very wonderfully at Padua when 
it was Venetian territory. But, as pointed out by Roth, 
dissection was practiced very successfully, and the an- 
atomical tradition established at Padua, before it came 
under the dominion of Venice. At all the other impor- 
tant cities of Italy dissection was carried on. We have 
given some of the evidence for Verona, for Pisa, for 
Naples, for Bologna, for Florence, and, be it remem- 
bered, even for Rome. Padua was the rival of Bologna 
in anatomy only for a comparatively short time. Bologna 


always maintained a primacy in the field of anatomy, 
and never more so than after she became a Papal cffy 
at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Vesalius 
taught and demonstrated not at Padua alone, but also 
at Bologna and at Pisa. For two centuries Rome was 
the most successful rival of Bologna, and hundreds of 
dissections were done in the Papal Medical School. 

Of course, the appeal to Venetian opposition to the 
Papacy as an explanation for dissection being carried on 
in Italy in spite of ecclesiastical regulations to the contrary 
is only a subterfuge. It can only be found in histories 
written by those who refuse to see facts as they were, 
because those facts do not accord with pet theories as 
to Papal Opposition to Science, and the Warfare Between 
Theology and Science, which must be maintained at all 
costs, though with an air of apology always for having 
to tell such unpleasant truths of these old-time religious 


The Golden Age of discovery in anatomy culminated 
during the first half of the sixteenth century. This will 
not be surprising if it is but recalled that this period 
represents the culmination also of that larger golden age 
ot achievement in art and letters, which has been called 
the Renaissance. Columbus and Copernicus were giving 
men a new world and a new universe. Raphael, Michael 
Angelo, Lionardo da Vinci, the Bellinis and Titian were 
creating a new world of art Most of these artists were 
deeply interested in anatomy. Every phase of himian 
thought was being bom anew. Unfortunately, this 
word Renaissance has given rise to many misunder- 
standings. Many people have taken its significance of 
re-birth to mean that art and letters, and with them 
education and thinking, were bom again into the mod- 
em world at this time with the coming in of the New 
Learning, just as if there had been nothing worth while 
talking about in these lines of human accomplishment 
in the preceding centuries. Taken in this sense, the 
word Renaissance is entirely a misnomer. Magnificent 
achievements in art and letters and every form of edu- 
cation preceded the Renaissance by at least three or four 
centuries. The Gothic cathedrals and the enduring ar- 
tistic development that took place in their making, the 
magnificent organization of technical education in the 
training of artist artisans by the guilds of the time (we 
would be glad if our technical schools could accomplish 



anything like the same results, for evidently, though 
the name technical education is our invention, these 
medieval peoples had the reality to a high degree), and 
finally the universities, which have remained essentially 
the same down to our own day— all these serve to show 
how much was done for every form of education many 
centuries before the beginning of the Renaissance so- 

It is not surprising that with this much of education 
abroad in the land men succeeded in making enduring lit- 
erature in every form and in every country in Europe, 
and in setting examples of style in prose and verse that 
succeeding generations have nearly always gone back to 
admire lovingly. Such an amount of education and de- 
velopment of thinking could not have come without pro- 
foimd attention to science, and, as a matter of fact, there 
was much more anticipation of even what is most modem 
in our scientific thinking than most scholars seem to 
have any idea of. Personally, I have found, in writing 
the history of The Thirteenth the Greatest of Centuries, 
more that interested me in_the,scifiDce£ f_this century 
than in almost any other department of its wonderful / 
educational development. ' 

We have already seen that while anatomy had during 
preceding centuries only the beginning of the develop- 
ment that it was destined to reach during the sixteenth 
century, it would be a serious mistake to think that the 
study of anatomy, having died in the old classical days, 
was not re-bom until the sixteenth century. This would 
be to commit the error that many ardent devotees of the 
Renaissance make with regard to all the accomplish- 
ments of this period. In spite of the contrary almost 
tmiversal impression, the Renaissance was not original 


to any marked degree. With the touch of the Greek 
spirit that had come again into the world, it only carried 
the preceding work of great original thinkers to a high 
order of perfection. This happened as well in anatomy 
as in art and architecture and literature. Anatomical 
science was a lusty infant of great promise when Vesa- 
lius, the Father of Anatomy, came on the scene. The 
great painters, Raphael and Lionardo and Michael An- 
gelo, owed much to Giotto and Fra Angelico, who had 
preceded them, but not more than Vesalius and his con- 
temporaries, who did such magnificent work in original 
anatomical investigation, owed to Mondino, Bertrucci, 
Zerbi, Achillini, and above all to Berengar of Carpi and 
Benivieni, who did their work before and just after the 
sixteenth century opened. There is never a sudden de- 
velopment in the history of any department of man's 
knowledge or achievement, as there is nothing absolute- 
ly new under the sun, though it is still the custom of the 
young man in his graduation essay to talk of such things, 
and older men sometimes fail to realize the truth that in 
history as in biology, life always comes from preceding 
lile—omne vivum ex vivo—and there is no such thing as 
spontaneous generation. 

If the achievements of this earlier period of scientific 
work, which affected anatomy even more than any of 
the other sciences, be kept in mind, the discussion of 
the Golden Age of Anatomy will find its proper place in 
the history of the relation of the Popes to science. 
Though the date of the Golden Age in Anatomy follows 
that of the so-called reformation, there is absolutely no 
connection between the two series of events, for the one 
took place in Gtermany and the other in Italy. The 
Golden Age of Anatomy was indeed a perfectly legiti- 


mate and quite to be expected culmination of the ana- 
tomical interest which had been gradually rising to a 
climax in the Italian imiversities during the preceding 
century. It has a definite place in the evolution of sci- 
ence, and is not a sudden or unlooked for phenomenon. 

If there was any place in the world at the beginning 
of the sixteenth century in which the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities had much to say with regard to what should 
not be taught and what should not be studied in the uni- 
versities, it was Italy. In spite of this fact, all medical 
men who wanted to do post-graduate work in medicine 
went down into Italy. This was especially true for those 
who desired to obtain ampler opportunities for anatom- 
ical study than were afforded by the rest of Europe. In 
his maturer years as a student of medicine, Vesalius 
went down to Italy in order to avail himself of the mag- 
nificent field for investigation that was provided there. 
This favorable state of affairs as regards research in 
anatomy had existed for more than a century before his 
time. It continued to be true for at least two centuries 
after his time. As a matter of fact, Italy was to the 
rest of the world of the fifteenth and sixteenth and sev- 
enteenth centuries the home of post-graduate opportun- 
ities in all sciences as well as in medicine. 

These are not idle words, but are fully substantiated 
by the lives of the men who stand at the head of our 
modem medicine. More than a decade before Vesalius 
was bom, Linacre, the distinguished English physician 
and foimder of the Royal College of Physicians, went to 
Italy to complete his medical studies and incidentally 
also to roimd out his education in the midst of the new 
learning which was so thoroughly cultivated there. 
. When Ldnacre was leaving Italy, with true classic spirit 


he set up a little altar on the top of the Alps whence he 
could get his last view of the Italian plains, and greeted 
the charming country that he was leaving so reluctantly 
with the beautiful name of Alma Mater Studiorum. To 
him, after his return to England, English-speaking med- 
ical men owe the establishment of the institution which 
above all others has helped to uplift the dignity of the 
medical profession and make the practice of the healing 
art something more than a mere trade—the Royal Col- 
lege of Physicians. 

One of Vesalius's most distinguished fellow students 
at Padua was Dr. John Caius, who was later to become 
the worthy president of the Royal College of Physicians 
of England and the author of certain important medical 
works. Dr. Caius was the first to introduce the practice 
of public dissections into England. Caius and Vesalius 
were roommates, though at the time Vesalius was an in- 
structor at the University, and the inspiration of his 
originality seems to have had a great effect upon young 
Caius. They were nearly of the same age, though Vesa- 
lius was a precocious genius, and Caius's greatness only 
showed itself in maturity. Caius was studying in Italy 
partly because the religious disturbances in England had 
made it uncomfortable for him to remain in his native 
country, for he was a firm adherent of the old Church 
and he hoped they would pass over, but mainly because 
he coveted the opportunities afforded by that country. 
Later in life, out of the revenues of his position as Royal 
Physician to Queen Mary and subsequently for some time 
to Queen Elizabeth, he founded the famous Caius Col- 
lege at Cambridge, usually called Key's College by Can- 

Before either of these men there had been a third dis- 


tin^ished English physician who had gone down to 
Italy for his education. This was the celebrated and 
learned John Phreas, who was bom about the commence- 
ment of the fifteenth century. Very little is known 
of his career, but what we do know is of great interest. 
He was educated at Oxford and obtained a fellowship on 
the foundation of Balliol College. Afterward he seems 
to have studied medicine with a physician in England, 
but was not satisfied with the medical education thus 
obtained. He set the fashion for going down into Italy 
sometime during the first half of the fifteenth century, 
and after some years spent at Padua received the degree 
of doctor in medicine, which in those days carried with 
it, as the name implies, the right to teach. As not in- 
frequently happens to the brilliant medical student, he 
settled down for practice in the university town in which 
he graduated, to take up both occupations, that of 
teacher and practitioner. He is said to have made a 
large fortune in the practice of physic.^ The best proof 
of his scholarship is to be found in some letters still 
preserved in the Bodleian and in the Library of Balliol 
College. Personally, I have considered that his career 
was interesting from another standpoint. I have often 
looked in history for the cases of appendicitis which oc- 
cur so frequently in our day and with regard to which 
people ask how is it they did not occur in the past. The 
fact is, they did occur, but were unrecognized. People 
were taken suddenly ill, not infrequently a short time 
after a meal, and after considerable pain and fever, 
swelling and great tenderness in the abdomen devel- 

1 like the other distin^ruished physicians of this time, John Phreas did not devote 
bimsdf to medicine alone. He had a taste for literature, and besides heing an accom- 
pliebed aeholar he was a poet 


oped, and they died with all the signs of poisoning. 
They were actually poisoned, not by some extraneous 
material, but by the putrid contents of their own intes- 
tines which found a way out through the ruptured ap- 
pendix. These cases were set down as poisoning cases, 
and usually some interested person was the subject of 
suspicion. Dr. Phreas's learning had obtained for him 
an appointment to a bishopric in England, a curious bit 
of evidence of the absence of opposition between med- 
ical science and religion in his time. He died shortly 
after this, under circimistances that raised a suspicion 
of poisoning in the minds of some of his contemporaries— 
but raises the thought of appendicitis in mine, —and one 
of his rivals was blamed for it 

Nor did the custom for English medical students to go 
down to Italy to complete their education cease with the 
so-called reformation. Some two generations after Vesa- 
lius's time another distinguished Englishman, Harvey, 
went down to Italy to complete the studies he had al- 
ready made and eventually to lay the foundation of that 
knowledge on which he was twenty years later to con- 
struct his doctrine of the circulation of the blood. This 
doctrine, however, remained merely a theory until the 
distinguished Italian anatomist, Malpighi, after another 
half century, demonstrated the existence of the capillar- 
ies, the little blood vessels which connect the veins and 
arteries, and by thus showing the continuity of both the 
blood systems, proved beyond all doubt the certainty of 
the teaching that the blood does circulate. 

Students came, moreover, from even the distant North 
of Europe to the Italian schools of medicine during these 
centuries. Neil Stensen, or as he is perhaps better 
known by his Latin name, Nicholas Steno, the discov- 


erer of the duct of the parotid gland, which has been 
named after him, and of many other anatomical details, 
especially of the fact that the heart is a muscle, which 
stamp him as an original investigator of the highest or- 
der, after having made extensive studies in the Nether- 
lands and in France to complete the medical education 
which he had begun in his native city of Copenhagen, 
went down into Italy to secure freer opportunities for 
original research than he could obtain anywhere else in 

We have mentioned that it was while he was pursuing 
his special investigations in various Italian universities 
that Stensen was honored with the invitation to become 
professor of anatomy at the University of Copenhagen. 
This was not a chance event, but a type of the point of 
view in university education at the time. Just as at the 
present time the prestige of research in a German uni- 
versity counts for much as a recommendation for pro- 
fessorships in our American universities, so in the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries was it with regard to 
study in Italy. It was felt that men who had spent sev- 

1 It may perhmps be of interest to say that whQe doin^r investifiration in anatomy and 
certain other sciences allied to medicine, Steno became a convert to the Catholic 
Ghnreh and after some yean became a priest. Before his ordination, however. 
tiioach after his conversion, he received the call to the chair of anatomy at Copen- 
basen. He accepted this and worked for several years at the Danish University, but 
was diaaatiafied with the state of affairs aroimd him as regards relifirion and went 
baeic to Italy. Eventually he was made a bishop— hence the curious picture of him 
in a Roman Gathdic Bishop's robes in the collection of pictures of professors of anat- 
omy at the University of Copenhagen. Not lonsr after, at his own request, he was 
aent np to the Northern part of Germany in order to try to brin^r back to the Church 
■a many of the Germans as miffht be won by his gentleness of disposition, his saintly 
cdaaracter, his wonderful scientific knowledge, and his winning ways. He is the 
Ikther of Ifodem Geology as wdl as a great anatomist, and his little book on geology 
vaa pobUshed after he became a priest, yet did not hamper in any way his ecdesiaa- 
tleal preferment nor alienate him from his friends in the hierarchy. He was honored 
11 1 II fall J by the Popes. In a word, hia career is the best possible disproof of any 
FVMd or occieriaatical oppoaitkm to adenee in his time. 


eral years there could be reasonably expected to know all 
that there was to be known in the rising sciences of anat^ 
omy and physiology ; at the same time there was a very 
general impression, quite justified by the results ob- 
served, that those who did their post-graduate work in 
Italy were nearly always sure to make discoveries that 
would add to the prestige of theu* universities later, and 
that would be a stimulus to students and to the other 
teachers around them such as could be provided in no 
other way. If read in the proper spirit, the history of 
the universities of those times is quite like our own, only 
for influence, the name of Italy must always be substi- 
tuted for that of Germany. Yet Italy, if we were to 
believe some of the writers on the history of education 
and science, was at this time laboring under the incubus 
of ecclesiastical intolerance with regard to anatomy and 
an almost complete suppression of opportunities for dis- 
section. Those who write thus know nothing at all of 
the actual facts of the history of science, or else they 
are blinding themselves for some reason to the real situ- 

Fortunately students of the facts of history, especially 
those who have devoted any serious attention to the his- 
tory of medicine, make no such mistake. For them it is 
perfectly clear that there was a wonderful development in 
anatomy which took place down in Italy, beginning about 
the middle of the fifteenth century or even earlier, and 
which led to the provision of such opportunities for dis- 
section and original research in medicine, that students 
from all over the world were attracted there. For in- 
stance, Professor Clifford AUbutt, in the address on the 
Historical Relations of Medicine and Surgery to the end 
of the Sixteenth Century, already quoted, has a passage 


in which, as an introduction to what he has to say about 
. Galen, he sums up the history of anatomy from the return 
of the Popes from Avignon to Rome, which took place 
just about the beginning of the last quarter of the four- 
teenth century, down to the time of Vesalius. This ex- 
presses so well what I have been trying to say with 
regard to the gradual development that led up to the 
Golden Age of Anatomy and to Vesalius's work, that I 
quote it 

** Meanwhile, however, the return of the Popes to 
Rome (1374) and the displacement of the Albucasis and 
Avicenna by the Greek texts renewed the shriveling 
body of medicine, and with the help of anatomy, Italian 
medicine awoke again ; though until the days of Vesa- 
lius and Harvey the renascence came rather from men 
of letters than of medicine. The Arabs and Paris said : 
'' Why dissect if you trust Galen ? But the Italian phy- 
sicians insisted on verification; and therefore back to 
Italy again the earnest and clear-sighted students flocked 
from all regions. Vesalius was a young man when he 
professed in Padua, yet, young or venerable, where but 
in Italy would he have won, I would not say renoum, but 
even svfferance! If normal anatomy was not directly a 
reformer of medicine, by way of anatomy came morbid 
anatomy, as conceived by the genius of Benivieni, of 
Morgagni, and of Valsalva; the galenical or humoral 
doctrine of pathology was sapped, and soaring in excel- 
sis for the essence of disease gave place to grubbing for 
its roots." 

A sketch of Vesalius's career will give the best pos- 
sible idea of the influences at work in science during this 
Golden Age of anatomical discovery, and will at the 
same time serve to show better than anything else, how 

^M {\s 


utterly unfounded is the opinion that there was opposi- 
tion between religion, or theology and science, and above 
all medical science, at this time. On the other hand, it 
will demonstrate that the educational factors at work in 
Vesalius's time were not diiTerent from those of the pre- 
ceding century, nor indeed from those that had existed 
for two or three centuries before his time ; and though 
his magnificent original research introduced the new 
initiative which always comes after a genius has left his 
mark upon a scientific department, the spirit in which 
science was pursued after his time did not differ essen- 
tially from that which had prevailed before. He repre- 
sents not a revolution in medical science, as has so often 
been said, though always with the purpose of demon- 
strating how much the so-called reformation accom- 
plished in bringing about this great progress in anat- 
omy, but only a striking epoch in that gradual evolution 
which had already advanced so far that his work was 
rendered easy and some such climax of progress as came 
in his time was inevitable. 

Vesalius's earlier education was received entirely in 
his native town of Louvain. There were certain pre- 
paratory schools in connection with the university at 
Louvain, and to one of these, called Paedagogium Castri 
because of the sign over the door, which was that of a 
fort, Vesalius was sent Here he learned Latin and 
Greek and some Hebrew. How well he learned his 
Latin can be realized from the fact that at twenty-two 
he was ready to lecture in that language on anatomy in 
Italy. His knowledge of Greek can be estimated from 
the tradition that he could translate Galen at sight, and 
he was known to have corrected a number of errors in 
translations from that author made by preceding trans- 


lators. To those who know the traditions of that time 
in the teaching of the classic languages along the Rhine 
and in the Low Countries, these accomplishments of 
Vesalius will not be surprising. They knew how to 
teach in those pre-reformation days, and probably Latin 
and Greek have never been better taught than by the 
Brethren of the Common Life, whose schools for nearly 
a hundred years had been open in the Low Countries 
and Rhenish Germany for the children of all classes, but 
especially of the poor. Other schools in the same region 
could scarcely fail to be uplifted by such educational tra- 
ditions. Altogether, Vesalius spent some nine years in 
the Paedagogium. 

As illustrating how men will find what interests them 
in spite of supposed lack of opportunities, it may be said 
that from his earliest years Vesalius was noted for his ten- 
dency to be inquisitive with regard to natural objects, 
and while still a mere boy his anatomical curiosity man- 
ifested itself in a very practical way. He recalls him- 
self in later years, that the bladders with which he 
learned to swim, and which were also used by the 
children of the time as play-toys for making all sorts of 
noises, became in his hands objects of anatomical inves- 
tigation. Anatomy means the cutting up of things, and 
this Vesalius literally did with the bladders. He noted 
particularly that they were composed of layers and 
fibres of various kinds, and later on when he was study- 
ing the veins in human and animal bodies he was re- 
minded of these early observations, and pointed out that 
the vein walls were made up of structures not unlike 
those, though more delicate, of which the bladders of 
his childhood days had proven to be composed. 

His preparatory studies over, Vesalius entered the 


University of Louvain, at that time one of the most im- 
portant universities of Europe. At the end of the fif- 
teenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
Louvain probably had more students than any other 
university in Europe except that of Paris, and possibly 
Bologna. There are good grounds for saying that the 
number in attendance here during the first half of the 
sixteenth century was always in excess of 5,000. The 
university was especially famous for its teaching of 
jurisprudence and philology. The faculty of theology, 
however, was considered to be one of the strongest in 
Europe, and Louvain, as might be expected from its 
position in the heart of Catholic Belgium, was generally 
acknowledged to be one of the great intellectual bul- 
warks of Catholicity against the progress of Lutheran- 
ism in the Teutonic countries at this time. Vesalius's 
parents were, and his family always had been, ardent 
Catholics, so that, quite apart from his dwelling not far 
away, it was very natural that he should have been sent 
here. He seems to have spent five years in the university 
mainly engaged in the study of philosophy and philology, 
but also of the classics and languages so far as they 
were taught at that time. 

It may be noted as another instance in his life of how 
a student will find that which appeals to him even in the 
most unexpected sources, that Vesalius took special in- 
terest in certain treatises of Albertus Magnus and 
Michael Scotus, which treated of the human body -in the 
vague, curious way of the medieval scholars, and yet 
with a precious amount of information, that this inquisi- 
tive youth eagerly drank in. More interesting for Vesa- 
lius himself were certain studies undertaken entirely inde- 
pendently of his imiversity course. One of his biog- 


raphers tells that he dissected small animals, rats and 
mice, and occasionally even dogs and cats, in his eager- 
ness to learn the details of anatomy for himself and at 
first hand. 

After graduating at Louvain in philosophy and philol- 
ogy, Vesalius went to Paris to study medicine. At this 
time at Paris, Sylvius, after whom one of the most im^ 
portant fissures of the brain, the sylvian, is named, was 
not only teaching anatomy in a very interesting way, but 
was also providing opportunities for original research in 
anatomy in connection with his own investigations. The 
interest that his teaching excited may be gathered from 
the fact that over 400 students were in attendance at his 
lectures. Besides Sylvius, GUnther of Andemach in 
Switzerland was also teaching in Paris, and with both 
of these distinguished professors Vesalius became inti- 
mately associated. His deep interest in the subject of 
anatomy would of itself be quite sufficient to attract the 
attention of professors, but he had besides the added 
advantage of being known as the descendant of a family 
which had occupied prominent posts as medical attend- 
ants to the greatest ruling family of Europe. 

It was at Paris, then, that Vesalius first was able to 
devote himself with the intense ardor of his character 
to the study of anatomy. Nothing less than original 
research at first hand would satisfy his ardent desire for 
information and his thirst for accurate knowledge. His 
practical temper of mind was demonstrated by a revolu- 
tion that he worked in the method of doing dissections 
at the time. The dissections in Paris used to be per- 
formed by the barber-surgeons, as a rule rather ignorant 
men, who knew little of their work beyond the barest 
outline of the technics of dissection. Teachers in anat- 


omy used to stand by and direct the operation and dem- 
onstrate the various parts. These teachers, however, 
considered it quite beneath them to use the knife them- 
selves. The faultiness of this method can be readily 
understood. Vesalius began a new era in the history of 
anatomy by insisting on doing the dissections himself. 
It was not long, however, before he realized that Paris 
could not afford him such opportunities as he desired. 
Altogether he did not remain there more than a year, 
and then returned to the Low Countries. 

At Louvain he continued his anatomical work, finding 
it difficult enough to procure human material, but using 
such as might come to hand. The story is told of his 
first attempt to get a complete skeleton. A felon 
had been executed just outside the walls of Louvain, and 
his remains were, as was the custom at that time, 
allowed to swing on the gibbet until the birds of the air 
had eaten his flesh and the wind and rain had bleached 
his bones. As might be thought, these bones were a 
great temptation to Vesalius. Finally, one night he and 
a fellow student stole out of the town and robbed the 
gibbet of its treasure. In order to accomplish their 
task— no easy one, because the skeleton was fastened to 
the beams of the scaffold by iron shackles— they had to 
remain out all night. They buried it and later removed 
it piecemeal, and when they had finally assembled the 
parts again it was exhibited as a skeleton brought from 

Even this story has been made to do duty as show- 
ing the ecclesiastical opposition to dissection and the 
advancement of anatomical knowledge. It is hard to 
understand, however, why men will not look at such an 
incident from the standpoint of our own experience in 


the modern time. There are men still alive in certain 
states of the Union who recall how much trouble they 
had to go to as medical students in order to procure a 
skeleton. If we go back fifty years, nearly every skele- 
ton that physicians had in their offices was obtained in 
some way almost as surreptitious as that just described, 
or was purchased through some underhand channel. 
They were dug up from potter's field, or sometimes pro- 
cured from complacent prison officials, or occasionally 
stolen from respectable cemeteries. In this respect Ve- 
salius was not much worse off than were his medical 
colleagues for nearly three centuries and a half after his 
time in the northern countries. It was easier to procure 
such material in Italy. 

Vesalius had that precious quality that makes the 
investigator desire to see and know things for himself. 
He could not get opportunities for definite anatomical 
knowledge in the western part of Europe, so he gave up 
his practice, though Louvain, his native town, was a most 
promising place, having nearly 200,000 inhabitants and 
business relations with all the world at the moment, and 
went down into Italy where he knew that he could pursue 
his anatomical studies to his heart's content The tra- 
dition of the work that Zerbi and Achillini had done, 
and especially what Benivieni and Berengar had accom- 
plished within a few decades before this time, was com- 
monly known in all the medical schools of Europe, and 
many an ardent young anatomist in the West yearned 
for the opportunities and the incentive that he could 
obtain down there. Church influence was predominant ; 
the ecclesiastics were the actual rulers of the universi- 
ties, but medical science, and above all anatomy, was 
being studied very ardently. Vesalius thus prompted. 


came and found what he looked for. At the end of ten 
short years of work down there, he had completed his 
text-book of anatomy which was to earn for him deserv- 
edly the title of Father of Anatomy. 

At first Vesalius seems to have spent some time in 
Venice, where he attracted considerable attention by his 
thorough, practical anatomical knowledge and independ- 
ent mode of thinking. After only a short period in 
Venice, however, he proceeded to Padua, where he 
spent some months in preparation for his doctor's exam- 
ination. It is known that, having completed his exam- 
ination in the early part of December, 1537, he was 
allowed within a few days to begin the teaching of 
anatomy, and, indeed, was given the title of professor 
by the university authorities. 

The next six years were spent in teaching at Padua, 
Bologna and Pisa, and in fruitful investigation. Every 
opportunity to make dissections was gladly seized, and 
Vesalius's influence enabled him to obtain a large amount 
of excellent anatomical material. He began at once the 
preparations for the publication of an important work 
on the anatomy of the human body. This was published 
in 1543 at Basel, at a time when its author was not yet 
thirty years of age. It is one of the classics of anatomi- 
cal literature. Even at the present day it is often con- 
sulted by those who wish to see the illustrative details 
of Vesalius's wonderful dissections as given in the mag- 
nificent plates that the work contains. It has become 
one of the most precious of medical books, and is eagerly 
sought for by collectors. 

For ten years more Vesalius devoted himself to his 
favorite studies in anatomy and physiology, for it must 
not be forgotten that he was constantly applying his 


knowledge of form and tissue to function, and came to 
be looked upon as the leading medical investigator of the 
world. It is apparently sometimes not realized, how- 
ever, that Vesalius was no mere laboratory or dissecting 
room investigator. After the publication of his great 
work on anatomy he set himself seriously to the applica- 
tion of what he had discovered to practical medicine and 
surgery. He was an intensely practical man. As a 
consequence, it was not long before consultations began 
to pour in on him, and he came to be considered as one 
of the greatest medical practitioners of his time. Ruling 
princes in Italy, visitors of distinction, high ecclesias- 
tics—all wished to have Vesalius's opinion when their 
cases became puzzling. This is a side of his character 
that many of his modem biographers have missed. 
Even Sir Michael Foster, whose knowledge of the his- 
tory of medicine, and especially of physiology, makes 
one hesitate to disagree with him, seems not to have 
appreciated Vesalius's interest in practical medicine. A 
laboratory man himself, he was apparently not able to 
appreciate why Vesalius should have given up his scien- 
tific research in Italy to accept the post of Royal Phy- 
sician to the Emperor Charles V. 

Professor Foster thinks it necessary, then, to find 
some other reason than the temptation of the import- 
ance of the position to account for Vesalius's acceptance 
of it He concludes that it was because of discourage- 
ment in his purely scientific studies as a consequence of 
the opposition of the Galenists. Opposition on the part 
of the old conservative school of medicine there was, 
and some of it was rather serious. This was not enough, 
however, to have discouraged Vesalius. Professor Fos- 
ter goes so far as to wax almost sentimental over the 


fact that the acceptance of the post of physician to 
Charles V. ended Vesalius's scientii&c career; ''for 
though in the years which followed the Father of Anato- 
my from time to time produced something original, and 
in 1555 brought out a new edition of his Fabrica, differ- 
ing chiefly from the first one, so far as the circulation of 
the blood is concerned, in its bolder enunciation of its 
doubts about the Galenic doctrines touching the heart, 
he made no further solid addition to the advancement 
of knowledge. Henceforward his life was that of a 
court physician much sought after and much esteemed— 
a life lucrative and honorable and in many ways useful, 
but not a life conducive to original inquiry and thought 
The change was a great and a strange one. At Padua 
he had lived amid dissections ; not content with the public 
dissections in the theatre, he took parts, at least, of 
corpses to his own lodgings and continued his labors 
there. No wonder that he makes in his Fabrica some 
biting remarks to the effect that he who espouses 
science must not marry a wife ; he cannot be true to 
both. A year after his arrival at the Court he sealed 
his divorce from science by marrying a wife ; no more 
dissections at home, no more dissections indeed at all ; 
at most, some few post-mortem examinations of pa- 
tients whose lives his skill had failed to save. Hence- 
forth his days were to be spent in courtly duties, 
in soothing the temporary ailments, the repeated gouty 
attacks of his imperial master, in healing the maladies 
of the nobles and others round his throne, and doubt- 
less in giving advice to more humble folk, who were 
from time to time allowed to seek his aid. Whither 
his master went, he went too, and we may well imagine 
that in leisure moments he entertained the Emperor and 


the Court with his intellectual talk, telling them some 
of the fairy tales of that realm of science which he had 
left, and of the later achievements of which news came 
to him, scantily, fitfully and from afar." 

Professor White has gone much farther than Sir 
Michael Foster. The English physiologist knew too 
much about the history of medicine in Italy even to hint 
at any ecclesiastical opposition with regard to Vesalius. 
President White, however, has no scruples in the mat- 
ter. This makes an excellent opportunity to write the 
kind of history that is to be found in his book. Appar- 
ently forgetful of the thought that the Emperor Charles 
V. was not at all likely to take as his body physician a 
man who had been in trouble with the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities in Italy, he insists that the reason why Vesalius 
dedicated his great work on anatomy to the Emperor 
Charles V. was ' ' to shield himself as far as possible in the 
battle which he foresaw must come. ' ' Later he suggests 
that it was only the favor of the Emperor saved him 
from the ecclesiastical authorities. 

All that has been said by historians with regard to the 
reasons for Vesalius's acceptance of the post of physi- 
cian to the Emperor Charles V. can only have come from 
men who either did not know or had for the moment for- 
gotten the story of Vesalius's ancestry. The family 
tradition of having one of its members as physician to 
the Court of the German Emperor was four generations 
old when Vesalius accepted the position. 

Vesalius's great-grandfather occupied the position of 
ph3rsician-in-ordinary to Marie of Burgundy, the wife of 
the Grerman Emperor Maximilian I., the distinguished 
patron of letters in the Renaissance period. He lived to 
an advanced age as a professor of medicine at Louvain. 


From this time on Vesalius's family always continued in 
official medical relation to the Austrian-Burgundy ruling 
family. His grandfather took his father's place as phy- 
sician to Mary of Burgundy, and wrote a series of com- 
mentaries on the aphorisms of Hippocrates. Vesalius's 
father was the physician and apothecary to Charles V. 
for a while, and accompanied the Emperor on journeys 
and campaigns. What more natural than that his son, 
having reached the distinction of being the greatest 
medical scientist alive, should be oiTered, and as a mat- 
ter of course accept the post of imperial physician ! 

The simple facts of the matter are that Vesalius came 
down into Italy in order to study anatomy, because in 
that priest-ridden and ecclesiastically-ruled country he 
could get better opportunities for anatomical study and 
investigation than anywhere else in Europe. He spent 
ten years there and then wrote his classical work on 
anatomy. After that he spent some years applying 
anatomy to medicine. Then when he had come to be 
the acknowledged leader of the medical profession of 
the world, the Emperor Charles V., at that time the 
greatest ruler in Europe, asked him to become his court 
physician. Vesalius accepted, as would any other medi- 
cal investigator that I have ever known, under the same 
circumstances. His position with Charles V. gave him 
opportunities to act as consultant for many of the most 
important personages of Europe, and it must not be 
forgotten that when the King of France was injured in 
a tournament Vesalius was summoned all the way from 
Madrid, and gave a bad prognosis in the case. 

In the light of this simple story of Vesalius's life in 
Italy, and of the reasons for his going there and his de- 
parture, it is intensely amusing to read the accoimts of 


this portion of Vesalius's life, written by those who must 
maintain at all costs the historical tradition that the 
Church was opposed to anatomy, that the Popes had 
forbidden dissection, and that the ecclesiastical authorities 
were constantly on the watch to hami)er, as far as pos- 
sible at least, if not absolutely to prevent, all anatomical 
investigation, and were even ready to put to death those 
who violated the ecclesiastical regulations in this matter. 
Dr. White, for instance, has made a great hero of 
Vesalius for daring to do dissection. He was only doing 
what hundreds of others were doing and had been doing 
in Italy for hundreds of years ; but to confess this would 
be to admit that the Church was not opposed to anat- 
omy or the practice of dissection, and so perforce Vesa- 
lius must be a hero as well as the Father of Anatomy. 
To read Dr. White's paragraph in the History of the 
Warfare of Science with Theology, one cannot but feel 
sure that Vesalius must practically have risked death 
over and over again in order to pursue his favorite prac- 
tice of dissection and his original researches in anatomy. 
I would be the last one in the world to wish to mini- 
mize in any way Vesalius's merits. He was a genius, a 
great discoverer— above all an inspiration to methods of 
study that have been most fruitful in their results, and 
withal a devout Christian and firm adherent of the 
Roman Catholic Church. He was not a hero in the mat- 
ter of dissection, however, for there was no necessity 
for heroism. Dissection had been practiced very assid- 
uously before his time in all the universities of Italy, 
especially in Bologna, which was a Papal city from the 
beginning of the sixteenth century, and also in Rome at 
the medical college of the Roman University under the 
very eye of the Popes. 


In the light of this knowledge read President White's 
paragraph with regard to Vesalins : 

"From the outset Vesalius proved himself a master. 
In the search for real knowledge he risked the most ter- 
rible dangers, and especially the charge of sacrilege, found- 
ed upon the teachings of the Church for ages. As we 
have seen, even such men in the early Church as Tertul- 
lian and St Augustine held anatomy in abhorrence, and 
the decretal of Pope Boniface VIII. was universally con- 
strued as forbidding all dissection, and as threatening ex- 
communication against those practicing it. Through this 
sacred conventionalism Vesalius broke withovi fear ; des- 
pite ecclesiastical censure, great opposition in his own 
profession and popular fury, he studied his science by 
the only method that could give useful results. No peril 
daunted him. To secure material for his investigations, 
he haimted gibbets and charnel-houses, braving the fires 
of the Inquisition and the virus of the plague." (The 
italics are mine. ) 

A very interesting commentary on the expressions of 
Professor White with regard to Vesalius is to be found 
in a paragraph of Von Toply's article on the History of 
Anatomy in the second volume of Puschmann's History 
of Medicine, already quoted. **Out of the fruitful soil 
so well cultivated in the two preceding centuries, there 
developed at the beginning of the sixteenth century the 
Renaissance of anatomy, with all the great and also with 
all the unpleasant features which belong to the impor- 
tant works of art of that period. One has only to think 
of Donatello, Mantegna, Michel Angelo, and Verochio to 
realize these. The Renaissance of anatomy developed 
in a field of human endeavor which, if it did not owe all, 
at least owed very much to the art-loving and culture 


fostering rulers, Popes and cardinals of the time. Older 
historians have told the story of the rise of anatomy in 
such a way that it seemed that the Papal Curia had set 
itself ever in utter hostility to the development of anat- 
omy. As a matter of fact, the Papal Court placed 
scarcely any hindrances in its path. On the contrary, 
the Popes encouraged anatomy in every way." 

In the page and a half following this quotation Von 
Toply has condensed into brief form most of what the 
Popes did for medicine and the medical sciences, though 
more especially for anatomy, during the centuries from 
the sixteenth down to the beginning of the nineteenth. 
Some excerpts from this, with a running commentary, 
will form the best compendiimi of the history of the 
Papal relations to medical education and will show that 
they are strikingly diiT erent from what has usually been 
said. Von T5ply begins with Paul III., who is known 
in history more especially for his issuance of the Bull 
founding the Jesuits. It might ordinarily be presumed 
by those who knew nothing of this Pope, that the Head 
of the Church, to whom is due an institution such as the 
Jesuits are supposed to be, would not be interested to 
the slightest degree in modem sciences, and would be 
one of the last ecclesiastical authorities from whom pat- 
ronage of science could possibly be expected. It was 
he, however, who founded special departments for anat- 
omy and botany and provided the funds for a salary for 
a prosector of anatomy at Rome. 

After this practically every Pope in this century has 
some special benefaction for anatomy to his credit Pope 
Paul rV. (1555-59) called Columbus to Rome and gave 
him every opportunity for the development of his orig- 
inal genius in anatomical research. Columbus had sue- 


ceeded Vesalins at Padua and had been tempted from 
there to Pisa by the duke who wished to create in tiiat 
city a university with the most prominent teachers in 
every department that there was in Italy, yet it was 
from this lucrative post that Pope Paul IV. succeeded in 
winning Columbus. Quite apart from what we know of 
Columbus's career at Rome and his successful investiga- 
tion on the cadaver of many anatomical problems, per- 
haps the best evidence of the friendly relations of the 
Popes to him and to his work is to be found in the fact 
that, first Columbus himself, and then after his death 
his sons, in issuing their father's magnificent work De 
Re Anatomica, dedicated it to the successor of Pope 
Paul IV., the reigning Pope Pius IV. In the meantime 
Cardinal Delia Rovere had brought Eustachius to Rome 
to succeed Columbus. 

Under Sixtus V., who was Pope from 1585 to 1590, 
the distinguished writer on medicine, and especially on 
anatomy, Piccolomini, published his lectures on anatomy 
with a dedication to that Pope. It is well known that 
the relations between the professor of anatomy at the 
Papal Medical School and the Pope were very friendly. 
As was the case with regard to Colombo or Columbus, so 
also with Caesalpinus. Columbus was the first to de- 
scribe the pulmonary circulation. Caesalpinus is gener- 
ally claimed by the Italians to have made the discovery 
of the circulation of the blood throughout the body / 
before Harvey. Columbus had been at Pisa and was 
tempted to come to Rome. Caesalpinus had also been 
at Pisa until Clement VIII. held out inducements that 
brought him to Rome. Clement is the last Pope of 
the century, but Von Toply mentions five Popes in the 
next century who were in intimate relations with dis- 


languished investigators into medical subjects and whose 

names are in some way connected with some of the most 
noteworthy teaching and writing in medical matters 

during the seventeenth century. 

It will be readily seen what a caricature of the life of 

Vesalius is Prof. White's paragraph, if one compares it 
with the following paragraph taken from so readily 
available an historical source as the article on the His- 
tory of Anatomy, by Prof. Turner, of Edinburgh, in the S<n\^^J^y^ 
first volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The dis- ^ 
tinguished Scotch anatomist who so worthily filled the 
chair of anatomy at the University of Edinburgh says 
With regard to Berengar of Carpi, who was the professor 
of anatomy at Bologna thirty-five years before Vesalius's 
tame, that, '* In the annals of medicine Berengar's name 
will be remembered as one of th(B most zealous and emi- 
Tient in cultivating the anatomy of the human body. It 
was long before the anatomists of the following age 
could boast of equalling him. His assiduity was inde- 
fatigable, and he declares that he dissected above one 
hundred human bodies." This should be enough, it 
seems to me, to settle the question that anatomy was 
permitted very freely before Vesalius's time. Professor 
Turner's authority in such a matter is above all suspi- 
cion. He knew the history of anatomy. 

If more evidence be needed, compare with President 
White's fantastic sketch of Vesalius the following sketch 
of his great contemporary, Columbus or Colombo, to 
whose anatomical investigations we owe the discovery 
of the pulmonary circulation : 

" The fame of Columbus as an anatomical teacher was 
exceedingly great and widespread. Students were at- 
tracted to the universities where he professed, from all 


quarters and in large numbers. He was an ardent stu- 
dent of his favorite science and was imbued with the 
genius and enthusiasm of an original investigator. He 
was not satisfied with the critical examination of mere 
structure, but extended his researches into the more 
subtle, difficult and important investigation of the phys- 
iological function. He has been most aptly styled the 
Claude Bernard of the sixteenth century. The work of 
Columbus is a masterpiece of method and purity of 
style, as well as on account of its richness in facts and 
observations. He spent over forty years in these studies 
and researches. . He dissected an extraordinary number 
of human bodies. It must have been an a^e of remark- 
able tolerance for scientific investigation, for in a single 
year he dissected no less than fourteen bodies. He also 
entered the crypts and catacombs of ancient churches, 
where the bones of the dead had been preserved and 
had accumulated century after century, and there, with 
unwearied care, he handled and compared over a half 
million of human skulls." 

This account was written by Dr. George Jackson 
Fisher in his " Historical and Bibliographical Notes" 
for the Annals of Anatomy and Surgery (Brooklyn, 1878- 
1880). All the material that Dr. Fisher used in his 
sketch is to be found in Roth's *'Life of Vesalius," p. 
256. Now, Columbus was a contemporary of Vesalius, 
and worked with him at Bologna. The years of their 
lives correspond almost exactly. When Vesalius left 
Padua to become the royal physician to Charles V., it 
was Columbus who succeeded him. Later he taught 
also at Pisa. Then, strange as it may seem for those 
who have put any faith in Dr. White's excursion into 
medical science, he was invited to become Professor of 


Anatomy at the Papal University at Rome, and it was 
while there that he had as many as three hundred stu- 
dents present at his demonstrations in anatomy and there 
that he did fourteen dissections in one year. The pre- 
tense that there was cmy ecclesiastical objection to dis- 
section becomes absolutely farcical when one compares 
the life of Vesalius sketched by President White with a 
motive, and the life of his contemporary and successor, 
Columbus, by an unbiased physician, whose only idea 
was to bring out the facts. 

According to Prof. White's opinion, Vesalius dedicated 
his work to Charles V. to shield himself as far as pos- 
sible, and after this gave up his anatomical studies in 
Italy to put himself under the protection of Charles V. 

Vesalius's successor, Coliunbus, did not have to do 
any such thing. Instead, he went down to Rome, and 
under the protection of the Popes continued to carry on 
his anatomical work there. 

When Charles V. died, however, according to Presi- 
dent White, a new weapon was forged against Vesalius. 
Vesalius was charged with dissecting a living man. 
President White hints that "the forces of ecclesiasti- 
cism united against the innovators of anatomy, and either 
from direct persecution or from indirect influences Vesa- 
lius became a wanderer." Just what that means I do 
not know. President White does not say that he was 
exiled, though that idea is implied. There is a great 
deal of doubt about this charge of Vesalius having made 
an autopsy on a living person. Roth discusses various 
versions. The whole thing seems to be a trumped-up 
story ; but supposing it true, would it not be only proper 
that a man who made an autopsy on a living person 
should be brought before the court ? He certainly would 


in our day in any civilized country. Professor Foster, 
of the University of Cambridge in England, following 
the lead of President White in this matter, blames the 
Inquisition for instituting the prosecution. If this were 
true, no more proof would be needed that the Inquisi- 
tion was a civil and not a religious institution, since after 
all the killing of a man by a premature autopsy is a plain 
case of homicide. 

The fact of the matter seems to be that Vesalius, who 
had not been very well in the unsuitable climate of Ma- 
drid, made the trip to the Holy Land, partly for reasons 
of health, but partly also for reasons of piety. While 
returning he was shipwrecked on the island of Zante 
and died from exposure. Vesalius had been bom in 
Brabant, at that time one of the most faithful Catholic 
countries in Europe. Like most of the other great men 
of his time,. the reformation utterly failed to tempt him 
from his adhesion to the Catholic Church. His greatest 
colleagues in anatomy and in medicine were Italians, 
most of whom were in intimate relations with the Cath- 
olic ecclesiastics of the time and continued this intimacy 
in spite of the disturbing influences that were abroad. 
Many of these men will be mentioned in our account of 
the Papal Medical School and of the Papal Physicians 
during the next two or three centuries. The distin- 
guished anatomists and physicians of France in Vesa- 
lius' s time were quite as faithful Catholics as he was. 
Even Paracelsus, the Swiss, whose thorough-going in- 
dependence of mind would, it might naturally seem, 
have tempted him to take up with the reformed doc- 
trines, had no sympathy with them at all. He recog- 
nized the abuses in the Church, but said that Luther 
and the so-called reformers were doing much more harm 


than good, and that until they were gotten rid of no im- 
provement in ecclesiastical matters could be looked for. 
When Paracelsus came to die he left his money mainly 
to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin in his native town 
of Einsiedeln and for masses for his soul. Since their 
time most of the distinguished medical scientists have 
been quite as faithful in their Catholicity as these two 
great medical colleagues of the Renaissance period. 
While medicine is supposed to be unorthodox in its ten- 
dencies, the really great thinkers in medicine, the men 
to whose names important discoveries in the science 
were attached, were not only faithful believers in the 
doctrines of Christianity, but were much more often 
than has been thought even devout Catholics. 

At the death of Vesalius the Golden Age of the devel- 
opment of anatomy was not at its close, but was just 
beginning. Eustachius, Caesalpinus, Harvey and Mal- 
pighi were during the course of the next century to 
make anatomy a science in the strict sense of that word. 
After Vesalius's time the history of anatomy in Italy 
centers aroimd the Papal Medical School to a great ex- 
tent During Vesalius's lifetime his greatest rival be- 
came the professor of anatomy there. The anatomical 
school of Bologna, in connection with that city, became 
an important focus of anatomical investigation. At this 
time Bologna was a Papal city. It was in the dominions 
of the Popes, then, as we shall see, that anatomy was 
carried on with the most success and with the most 
ardor. Far from there being any opposition to the de- 
velopment of the science, every encouragement was 
given to it, and it was the patronage of the Popes and 
of the higher ecclesiastics that to a great degree made 
possible the glorious evolution of the science during the 
next century. 


A false impression, exactly corresponding to that with 
regard to anatomy, has been created and fostered by 
just the same class of writers as exploited the anatomy 
question, with reference to the attitude of the Popes and 
the Church of the Middle Ages toward the study of 
chemistry. This is founded on a similar misrepresenta- 
tion of a Papal document When it was pointed out that 
this Papal document, like Pope Boniface's bull, had no 
such purport as was suggested, just the same subterfuge 
as with regard to anatomy was indulged in. If the Papal 
document did not forbid chemistry directly, as was said, 
at least it was so misinterpreted, and chemistry failed 
to develop because of the supposed Papal opposition. 
These expressions were used, in spite of the fact that, 
just as in the case of anatomy, it is not hard to trace the 
rise and development of chemistry, or its predecessor, 
alchemy, during the years when it is supposed to be in 
abeyance. Certainly there was no interruption, of the 
progress of chemical science at the date of the supposed 
Papal prohibition, nor at any other time, as a conse- 
quence of Church opposition. 

The similarity of these two history lies is so striking 
as to indicate that they had their birth in the same de- 
sire to discredit the Popes at all cost, and to make out a 
case of opposition on the part of ecclesiastical authorities 
to scientific development, whether it actually existed or 
not. The surprise is, however, that the same form of 
invention should have been used in both cases. One 



might reasonably have ejcpected that the ingenuity of 
writers would have enabled them to find another basis 
for the story on the second occasion. Still more might 
it have been expected that when the error with regard 
to the tenor of the Papal document was pointed out to 
them, a different form of response would be made in the 
latter instance. The whole subject indicates a dearth 
of originality that would be amusing if it were on a less 
serious matter, and does very little credit either to those 
who are responsible for the first draft of the story, but 
still less to those who have swallowed it so readily and 
given it currency. 

The story of the Supposed Papal Prohibition of Chem- 
istry was characteristically told by William J. Cruik- 
shank, M. D., of Brooklyn, New York, in an address 
bearing the title, ''Some Relations of the Church and 
Scientific Progress,'' published in The Medical Library 
and Historical Journal of Brooklyn for July, 1905. The 
writer called emphatic attention to the fact that chem- 
istry, during the Middle Ages, had come under the par- 
ticular ban of the ecclesiastical authorities, who effect- 
ually prevented its cultivation or development. **The 
chemist," Dr. Cruikshank says, '*was called a mis- 
creant, a sorcerer, and was feared because of his sup- 
posed partnership with the devil. He was denounced 
by Pope and priest and was persecuted to the full extent 
of Papal power. Pope John XXII. was especially ener- 
getic in this direction, and in the year 1317 A.D., issued 
a bull calling on all rulers, secular and ecclesiastical, to 
hunt down the miscreants who were afflicting the faith- 
ful, and he thereupon increased the power of the Inqui- 
sition in various parts of Europe for this purpose." 

At the suggestion of the editor of the Medical Library 


and Historical Journal, I answered these assertions of 
Dr. Cruikshank, pointing out that the Papal document 
which he mentioned had no such purport as he declared, 
and that the history of chemistry or alchemy presented 
no such break as his assertions would demand. Dr. 
Cruikshank immediately appealed by letter to his au- 
thority on the subject, whose words, in the History of 
the Warfare of Theology with Science in Christendom, 
though I did not realize it at the time, he had repeated 
almost literally. In his chapter on From Magic to Chem- 
istry and Physics, Dr. Andrew D. White says : '* In 1317, 
Pope John XXII. issued his bull Spondent pariter, lev- 
elled at the alchemists, but really dealing a terrible blow 
at the beginning of chemical science. He therefore 
called on all rulers, secular and ecclesiastical, to hunt 
down the miscreants who thus afflicted the faithful, and 
he especially increased the power of inquisitors in vari- 
ous parts of Europe for this purpose." It will be seen 
that, as I have said. Dr. Cruikshank's words are al- 
most a verbatim quotation from this paragraph. It is 
true that he has strengthened the expressions quite a 
little and added some trimmings of his own, still I sup- 
pose his expressions could be justified if those of Presi- 
dent White had a foundation in fact A little compari- 
son of the two sets of phrases will show how a history 
lie grows as it passes from pen to pen. Crescit eundo— 
like rumor, it increases in size as it goes. 

In defense of this passage in the History of the War- 
fare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Dr. White 
wrote a letter of reply to Dr. Cruikshank, which was in- 
corporated into Dr. Cruikshank's response to my article 
in the Medical Library and Historical Journal. I pre- 
sume that this was done with Dr. White's permission. 


In this letter he admitted that Pope John's decretal had 
no such significance as he originally claimed for it, but 
he still maintained his previous opinion, that this de- 
cretal, like Boniface's bull for anatomy, had actually 
prevented, or at least greatly hampered the study of 
chemistry. To this I replied with a brief story of 
chemistry in the fourteenth century, and though that 
article was published more than a year ago, no admis- 
sion has been made and nothing further has been pub- 
lished on the subject. The material of the reply to Dr. 
White, to which as yet there has been no answer, is com- 
prised in this chapter. 

As I have abeady hinted, the most surprising thing 
about this citation of a Papal decree forbidding chem- 
istry, is that it proves on investigation to be founded on 
just exactly the same sort of misinterpretation of a 
Papal document as happened with regard to anatomy. 
The bull of Pope Boniface VIII. forbidding the boiling 
of bodies and their dismemberment for burial in distant 
lands, did nothing to hinder the progress of anatomy, 
had no reference to any preparations required for dis- 
section, and was not misinterpreted in any such sense 
imtil the nineteenth century, and then only for the pur- 
pose of discrediting the Popes and their relations to sci- 
ence. Pope Boniface's bull, far from being harmful in 
any way to education or to the people, was really bene- 
ficial, and constituted an excellent sanitary regulation 
which doubtless prevented, on a number of occasions, 
the carriage of disease from place to place. 

The decree of Pope John XXII. , which has been falsely 
claimed to forbid chemistry, was another example of 
Papal care for Christendom, and not at all the obscur- 
antist document it has been so loudly proclaimed. Pope 


John learned how much imposition was being practiced 
on the people by certain so-called alchemists who claimed 
to be able to make silver and gold out of baser metals. 
In order to prevent this, within a year after his eleva- 
tion to the pontificate he issued not a bull, but a very 
different form of docmnent— a decretal— forbidding any 
''alchemies" of this kind. The punishment to be in- 
flicted, however, instead of being the penalty of death, 
as Dr. Cruikshank, Dr. White and many others have de- 
clared, or at least let it be understood from their mode 
of expression, was that the person convicted of pretend- 
ing to make gold and silver and selling it to other people, 
should pay into the public treasury an amount equal to 
the supposed amount of gold and silver that he had 
m^de. The money thus paid into the public treasury was 
to he given to the poor. 

The best way to show exactly what Pope John in- 
tended by his decree is to quote the decree. It does not 
occur in the ordinary collection of the bulls of John 
XXII. , for it was not, as we have said, a bull in the 
canonical sense of the term, but a Papal document of 
minor importance. There is an important distinction 
between a decree and a bull, the former being but of 
lesser significance, usually referring only to passing 
matters of discipline. The decretal may be found in the 
Corpus Juris Canonica, Tome II., which was published 
at Lyons in 1779. It is among the decrees or constitu- 
tions known as Extravagantes.^ 

^ The meaninfiT of this term we discussed in the previous chapter on Anatomy in 
relation to the bull of Boniface and Liber VL The motto of the publisher of the 
volume in which it occurs deserves quotation because of its apt applicati<m in th« 
present circumstance. It is in Latin: "Quod tibi fieri non vis, alter! ne fecois" — 
" What you would not have done to jrouraelf, don't do to another." If writers about 
the Popes were as careful to substantiate accusations against them as fully as th^r 
would like any accusations against themselves to be corroborated before beini^ 


We quote the decree as it is found in Canon Law: 

The Crime of Falsification. 

Alchemies are here prohibited and those who prac- 
tise them or procure tneir being done are punished. 
They must forfeit to the public treasury for the bene- 
fit of the poor as much genuine gold and silver as 
they have manufactured of the false or adulterate 
metal. If they have not sufficient means for this, the 
penalty may be changed to another at the discretion 
of the judge, and they shall be considered criminals. 
If they are clerics, they shall be deprived of any bene- 
fices that they hold and be declared incapable of hold- 
ing others. (See also the Extravagant of the same 
John which begins with the word 'Providens' and 
is placed under the same title. )^ 

Poor themselves, the alchemists promise richgs 
which are not forthcoming; wise also in their own* 
conceit they fall into the ditch which they themselves 
have digged. For there is no doubt that the profes- 
sors of this art of alchemy make fun of each other 
because, conscious of their own ignorance, they are 
surprised at those who say anything of this kind about 
themselves ; when the truth sought does not come to 
them they fix^on a day [for their experiment] and 
exhaust all their arts ; then they dissimulate [their 
failure] so that finally, though there is no such thing 
in nature, they pretend to make genuine gold and sil- 
ver by a sophistic transmutation ; to such an extent 
does their damned and damnable temerity go that 
they stamp upon the base metal the characters of 

•eecpted and circulated, we shoold hear much lees of Papal intolerance and of Church 
opiKMition to science. Even a dead Pope must be considered as a man whose reputa* 
tkm one should not malicrn without srood reason and substantial proof. I must add 
that, as with regard to the other Papal documents mentioned, I owe the copy of this 
decree to Father Corfoett of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Overbrook. Pennsyl- 
vania, and am indebted to him besides for many helpful suffsrestions. 

^ Tlie decree referred to here was issued by John XXIL against the counterf eiting 
d the mon^ of Francei The fact that the two decrees should be considered by 
cmonlata as oonneeted in subject shows just what was thought to be the purport of 
the first, namely, to prevent the debasement of the currency by the admixture of 
adnlterat* gold as wril as to protect the ignorant from imposition. 


'* public money for believing eyes, and it is only in this 
" way that they deceive the igrnorant populace as to the 
' * alchemic fire of their furnace. Wishing to banish such 
"practices for all time, we have determined by this 
" formal edict that whoever shall make gold or silver of 
'* this kind or shall order it made, provided the attempt 
"actually follows, or whoever shall knowingly assist 
"those engaged (actually) in such a process, or who- 
mever shall knowingly make use of such gold or silver 
" either by selling it or giving it for debt, shall be com- 
" pelled as a penalty to pay into the public treasury, to 
"be used for the poor, as much by weight of genuine 
"gold and silver as there may be of alchemic metal, 
"provided it be proved lawfully that they have been 
"guilty in any of the aforesaid ways; for those who 
" persist in making alchemic gold, or, as has been said, 
"musing it knowingly, let them be branded with the 
"mark of perpetual infamy. But if the means of the 
"delinquents are not sufficient for the payment of the 
" amount stated, then the good judgment of the justice 
"may commute this penalty into some other (as, for 
"example, imprisonment, or another punishment, ac- 
" cording to the nature of the case, the difference of 
"individuals, and other circumstances.) Those, how- 
"ever, who in their regrettable folly go so far as not 
"only to sell moneys thus made but even despise the 
" precepts of the natural law, pass the bounds of their 
"art and violate the laws by deliberately coining or 
" casting or having others coin or cast counterfeit money 
"from alchemic gold or silver, we proclaim as coming 
"under this animadversion, and their goods shall be 
"confiscate, and they shall be considered as criminals. 
"And if the delinquents are clerics, besides the afore- 
" said penalties they shall be deprived of any benefices 
" they shall hold and shall be declared incapable of hold- 
" ing any further benefices." ^ 

It is evident that John's decree against "The Crime 
of Falsification'' did not directly forbid chemistry, nor 
alchemy in the proper sense of the word, nor did it in 
any way interfere with the study of substances to de- 

1 The Latin text of this decretal will be found entire in the appendix. 

si'ri'nsi:!) PROHiiirnox of (Iilm/.^tuy i:27 

temiine their composition, or the synthesis of materials 
to produce others, provided there was no pretense of 
making gold and silver in order to obtain genuine gold 
and sflver from ignorant dupes. There seems to be no 
doubt that had the famous scheme to obtain gold from 
sea water, which caused serious loss to so many foolish 
and even poor people a few years ago, come up during 
the time of John XXIL, he would have prevented it 
from being so lucrative to its promoters, by publicly 
denouncing them and promulgating a law for their 

It may be considered that excommunication was not a 
very severe penalty for such dishonest practices, and 
that the sharpers who gave themselves to such a profes- 
sion, which would be about that of the confidence or 
green goods men of our time, were not likely to be 
affected much by this merely religious deprivation. It 
must not be forgotten, however, that in those ages of 
faith, excommunication became an extremely telling 
social punishment It was forbidden that anyone, even 
nearest and dearest friends, should have anything to do 
with the one excommunicated until the ban was re- 
moved. It was bad enough in a town where everyone 
belonged to the same church, and all went to church 
frequently, to be forbidden to go there ; it was infinitely 
worse, however, to have everybody who passed refuse 
to greet you or have relations of any kind with you. 
President Hadley, of Yale, said, not long since, that 
social ostracism is the only effective punishment for 
such manifest extra legal irregularities, which are 
yet not so essentially criminal as to bring those guilty 
of them under legal punishment. The sentence of ex- 
communication was an effective social ostracism— the 


completest possible. This is an aspect of excommunica- 
tions usually missed, but well deserving of study by 
those who resent the use of such an instrument by 
ecclesiastical authorities. Just as soon as the man le- 
pented of what he had done and promised to do so no 
more, he was received back into the Church, and the 
ostracism ceased, so long as he did not relapse into his 
forbidden ways. 

When the eminently beneficial character of this Papal 
dociunent is thus appreciated, it is indeed painful to 
have to realize, that for its issuance John has been held 
up more to scorn and ridicule than perhaps has ever 
been the case for any other single formal document that 
has ever been issued by an ecclesiastical or political 
authority. He was simply correcting an abuse in his 
day, the existence of which we recognize and would like 
to be able to correct in ours. For this eminently proper 
exercise of the Papal power, however, his whole charac- 
ter has been called into question, and a distinguished 
modem educator has used every effort to place him in 
the pillory of history, as one of the men who have done 
most to hamper progress in science and education in all 
world history. The amusing thing is the utter inequal- 
ity between the document itself and its supposed effects. 
Of course it had no such effect as President White 
claims for it, and, indeed, he seems never to have seen 
the document in its entirety before it was called for- 
cibly to his attention long after his declarations with 
regard to it were published. The real attitude of Pope 
John XXII. with regard to education and the sciences, 
which was exactly the reverse of that predicated of him 
by his modem colleague in education, will be the subject 
of the next chapter. 


There is another document of John XXII. , the bull 
Super lUius Specula, that has been sometimes quoted, 
or rather misquoted, and which indeed at first I was in- 
clined to think was the bull referred to by Dr. Cruik- 
shank. This second Papal document, however, was not 
issued until 1326. It is concerned entirely with the 
practice of magic. The Pope knew that many people, 
by pretended intercourse with the devil or with spirits 
of various kinds, claimed to be able to injure, to obtain 
precious information, to interpret the future and the 
past, and to clear up most of the mysteries that bother 
mankind. We have them still with us— the palmist, the 
fortune-teller, the fake-spiritist In order to prevent 
such impostures, John issued a bull forbidding such 
practices imder pain of excommunication. It is almost 
needless to say that this Papal document must have 
effected quite as much good for the people at large as 
did the previous one forbidding ''alchemies," which 
must have prevented the robbing of foolish dupes who 
were taken with the idea that the alchemists whom they 
employed could make gold and silver. Of this second 
Papal document, this time really a bull, we shall, be- 
cause President White has given it an even falser con- 
struction than the one we have just been discussing, 
have more to say in the next chapter. 

We must return, however, to the decretal Spondent 
pariter, —the decree supposed to have forbidden chem- 
istry ; for as with regard to the bull of Boniface VIIL, 
previously discussed, it seems that it is necessary not 
only to show that the decree was not actually intended by 
the Popes to prohibit chemistry, but also it will have to 
be made clear that it was not misinterpreted so as to 
hamper chemical investigation. This is indeed a very 


curious state of affairs in history. First, it is solemnly 
declared, that certain bulls and Papal documents were 
directed deliberately against the sciences of anatomy and 
chemistry by the Head of the Church, who wished to 
prevent the development of these sciences lest they 
should lessen his power over his people. Then, when it 
is shown that the documents in question have no such 
tenor, but are simple Papal regulations for the preven- 
tion of abuses which had arisen, and that they actually 
did accomplish much good for generations for which 
they were issued, the reply is not an acknowledgement 
of error, but an insistence on the previous declaration, 
somewhat in this form : "Well, the Popes may not have 
intended it, but these sciences, as a consequence of 
their decrees, did not develop, and the Popes must be 
considered as to blame for that" Then, instead of 
showing that these sciences did not develop, this part is 
assumed and the whole case is supposed to be proved. 
Could anything well be more preposterous. And this is 
history ! Nay, it is even the history of science. 

When I called attention to the fact that this decretal 
contained none of the things it was said to, and pub- 
lished the text of it, Dr. White very calmly replied: 
'* Dr. Walsh has indeed correctly printed it, and I notice 
no flaw in his translation." Instead of conceding, how- 
ever, that he had been mistaken, he seemed to consider 
it quite sufficient to add, "I have followed what I found 
to be the unanimous opinion of the standard historians 
of chemistry." He did not mention any of the histo- 
rians, however. I asked him by letter to name some of 
the standard historians of chemistry who made this 
declaration, but though I received a courteous reply, it 
contained no names, and, indeed, avoided the question 


of chemistry entirely. It is not too much to expect 
that an historian shall quote his authorities. Dr. White 
seems to be above this. Some documents that he quotes 
are distorted, and prove on examination, as we have 
seen, to have quite a different meaning to that which he 
gives them. As might be expected, his supposed facts 
prove to have as little foundation. It will be remem- 
bered that he completely ignored or was ignorant of the 
history of anatomy. He seems to have been just as ig- 
norant of the history of chemistry, in spite of his confi- 
dent assurance in making far-reaching statements with 
regard to it. In order to satisfy myself, I went through 
all of the standard histories of chemistry in German, 
English and French that are available in the libraries of 
New York City, and I failed to find a single one of them 
which contains anything that might be supposed even 
distantly to confirm President White's assertion. 

I may have missed it, and shall be glad to know if I 
have. I cannot do more than cite certain of them that 
should have it very prominently, if Dr. White's asser- 
tion is to be taken at its face value. Here are some 
standard historians whom I have searched in vain for 
the declaration that all of them should have. 

Kopp, who is the German historian of chemistry, 
mentions the fact that there was much less cultivation 
of chemistry during the fourteenth century than during 
the thirteenth, but makes no mention of the bull of 
Pope John as being responsible for it. There are curious 
cycles of interest in particular departments of science, 
with intervals of comparative lack of interest that can 
only be explained by the diversion of human mind to other 
departments of study. This seems to have happened 
with regard to chemistry in the fourteenth century. 


Hoefer, the French historian of chemistry, mentions 
the fact that Pope John XXII. took severe measures 
against the alchemists who then wandered throughout 
the country, seeking to enrich themselves at the expense 
of the credulity of the people. He evidently knew of 
this decree then, but he says nothing of its forbidding 
or being misinterpreted, so as to seem to forbid chemi- 
cal investigation. Thomson, the English historian of 
chemistry, has no mention of any break in the develop- 
ment of chemical science, caused. by any action of the 
Popes, though, to the surprise doubtless of most readers, 
he devotes considerable space to the history of chemical 
investigation during the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies. Ernst von Meyer mentions the fact that alchemy 
was abused by charlatans, in order to make pretended 
gold and silver, and notes that there was not so much 
interest in chemistry in the fourteenth as in the thir- 
teenth century, but does not ascribe this fact to the bull 
of Pope John. • 

I expected at least that I should find something with 
regard to the question of the possible influence of the 
bull in Berthelot's ** History of Chemistry in the Middle 
Ages.*'^ But though there are various historical topics 
treated that would seem to imply the necessity for say- 
ing something about the bull, if it had any such effect 
as described, yet there is no mention of it. He men- 
tions the Franciscan alchemists of northern Italy, who 
lived about this time, and discusses the ** Rosarium," 
written very probably after the date of the bull by a 
Franciscan monk, but there is no suggestion as to any 
hampering of alchemy by Papal or other ecclesiastical 

^ Berthdot's Histoire de la Chimie au Moyen Age. Paria, 1893. 


The French Grande Encyclopedie does not mention it, 
nor does a German encyclopasdia, also consulted. Even 
the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its article on alchemy, 
makes no mention of the prohibition of alchemy by Pope 
John XXIL, and when the Encyclopaedia Britannica 
does not mention any scandal with regard to the Popes, 
then the scandal in question must have an extremely 
slight or tio foundation. 

Of course this is what might be expected. Anyone 
who reads the Papal decree can see at once that it has 
nothing to do with, or say about, chemistry or chemical 
investigation. Since, however, an aspersion has been 
cast upon the progress of chemistry during the Middle 
Ages, and since it will siu*ely be thought by many people 
that, if chemistry did not happen to interest mankind at 
that time, it must have been because the Pope was 
opposed to it (for such seems to be the curious chain of 
reasoning of certain scholars), it has seemed well to re- 
view briefly the story of chemistry during the thir- 
teenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. More will 
be said about it in the chapter on Science at the Medie- 
val Universities, and here the only idea is to bring out 
the fact that men were interested in what we now call 
chemical problems; that whatever interest they had 
was absolutely unhampered by ecclesiastical opposition ; 
that indeed the very men who did the best work in this 
line, and their work is by no means without significance 
in the history of science, were all clergymen ; and that 
most of them were in high favor with the Popes, and 
some of them have since received the honor of being 
canonized as saints. 

Take for a moment the example of the great English 
medieval scientist who wrote near the end of the thir- 


teenth century a work on science, which was undertaken 
at the command of the Pope of his time, to show him 
the character of the teaching of science at the Univer- 
sity of Oxford. Roger Bacon defined the limits of 
chemistry very accurately and showed that he under- 
stood exactly what the subject and methods^of investi- 
gation must be, in order that advance should be made 
in it Of chemistry he speaks in his ** Opus Tertimn " 
in the following words: "There is a science which 
treats of the generation of things from their elements 
and of all inanimate things, as of the elements and 
liquids, simple and compound, common stones, gems and 
marble, gold and other metals, sulphur, salts, pigments, 
lapis lazuli, minium and other colors, oils, bitumen, and 
infinite more of which we find nothing in the books of 
Aristotle ; nor are the natural philosophers nor any of 
the Latins acquainted with these things." 

The thirteenth century saw the rise of a number of 
great physical scientists, who made observations that 
anticipated much more of our modem views on scientific 
problems than is usually thought. One of the greatest 
of the chemists of the thirteenth century was Albert 
the Great, or Albertus Magnus, as he is more familiarly 
called, who taught for many years at the University of 
Paris. He was a theologian as well as a physician and 
a scientist. His works have been published in twenty- 
one folio volumes, which will give some idea of the im- 
mense industry of the man. Those relating to chemistry 
are as follows : Concerning Metals and Minerals ; Con- 
cerning Alchemy ; A Treatise on the Secrets of Chem- 
istry ; A Brief Compend on the Origin of the Metals ; 
A Concordance, that is, a Collection, of Observations 
from Many Sources, with Regard to the Philosopher's 


Stone ; A Treatise on Compounds ; a book of eight chap- 
ters on the Philosopher's Stone. Most of these are to be 
found in his works under the general heading " Theat- 
rum Chemicum." Thomson, in his ''History of Chem- 
istry," says, that they are, in general, plain and intel- 
ligible. Albertus Magnus's most famous pupil was the 
celebrated Thomas Aquinas. Three of his works are on 
chemistry : The Intimate Secrets of Alchemy ; on the 
Essence and Substance of Minerals ; and finally, later 
in life, the Wonders of Alchemy. It is in this last work, 
it is said, that the word amalgam occurs for the first 
time. While Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus 
were working in France and Germany, Roger Bacon 
was doing work of similar nature at Oxford in England. 
Altogether, he has eighteen treatises on chemical prob- 
lems. Some of these contain wonderful anticipations of 
modem chemistry. After Roger Bacon came Raymond 
Lully, who wrote, in all, sixteen treatises on chemical 
subjects. At about the same time, Arnold of Villanova 
was teaching medicine at Paris and paying special atten- 
tion to chemistry. From him there are twenty-one 
treatises on chemical subjects still extant. Arnold of 
Villanova died on the way to visit Pope Clement V., 
the inmiediate predecessor of John, who lay sick unto 
death at Avignon. 

It is evident, then, that there was no spirit of opposi- 
tion to chemistry gradually forming itself in ecclesiasti- 
cal circles, and about to be expressed in a decree by. 
John. The chemists of the thirteenth century had been 
among the most distinguished chiu*chmen of the period. 
One of them at least, Thomas Aquinas, had been de- 
clared a saint Another, Albertus Magnus, has been 
given the title of Blessed, signifying that his life and 


works are worthy of all veneration. Pope John XXIL 
had as a young man been a student of these men at the 
University of Paris, and would surely have imbibed the 
tradition of their interest in the physical sciences. That 
he should have unlearned all their lessons seems out of 
the question. 

It remains, then, to see whether there was any dimi- 
nution of the interest in chemistry after the issue of this 
decree by John. In the fourteenth century we find the 
two HoUanduses, probably father and son, whose lives 
run during most of the century, doing excellent work in 
science. They frequently refer to the writings of Ar- 
nold of Villanova, so that they certainly post-date him. 
From them altogether, we have some eleven treatises 
on various chemical subjects. Some of these, especially 
with regard to minerals, have very clear descriptions of 
processes of treatment which serve to show that their 
knowledge was by no means merely theoretical or ac- 
quired only from books. 

Probably before the end of the fourteenth century 
there was bom a man who must be considered the 
father of modern pharmaceutical chemistry. This was 
Basil Valentine, the German Benedictine monk, whose 
best known work is the '*The Triumphal Chariot of An- 
timony.'' Its influence can be best appreciated from 
the fact that it introduced the use of antimony into 
medicine definitely, and that substance continued to be 
used for centuries, so that it was not until practically 
our own generation that the true limitations of its use- 
fulness were found. Valentine described the process of 
making muriatic acid, which he called the spirit of salt, 
and taught how to obtain alcohol in concentrated form. 
Altogether, this monk-alchemist, who was really the 


first of the chemists, left twenty-three treatises, some of 
them good-sized books, on various subjects in chemistry. ^ 
It does not look, then, as though chemistry was much 
neglected during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
One step more in the history remains to be taken, 
which brings us down to a man who is more familiar to 
modem physicians— ^Paracelsus. Paracelsus received 
his education just at the beginning of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, before the Reformation began. He was not a 
man, as those who know his character will thoroughly 
appreciate, to confess that he had received much assist- 
ance from others. He does mention, however, that he 
was helped in his chemical studies by the Abbot Trit- 
hemius, of Spanheim ; by Bishop Scheit, of Stettbach ; 
by Bishop Erhardt, of Lavanthol ; by Bishop Nicholas, 
of Hippon ; and by Bishop Matthew Schacht 

We have been able to follow, then, the development 
of chemistry during the fourteenth and fifteenth centu- 
ries down to the time of the Reformation, and find no- 
where any lessening of the ardor for chemical studies, 
though most of the great names in the science continue 
to be, as they were before the decree was issued, those 
of distinguished ecclesiastics. John's decree, then, was 
neither intended to hamper the development of chem- 
istry, nor did it accidentally prevent those who were 
most closely in touch with the ecclesiastical authorities 
from pursuing their studies. Those, of course, who 
knew anything of the character of the author, would 
not expect it to interfere with the true progress of 
science. As we shall see in the next chapter. Pope 
John XXII. was really one of the most liberal patrons 
of education and of science in history. 

^ For a brief sketch of his career see my Catholic Churchmen in Science. Dolphin 
Prwa. Philadelphia. 190& 


The question of the Papal bull supposed to forbid 
chemistry, or at least its mother ggienc e, alchem y, has 
necessarily brought into prominence in this volume the 
name of Pope John XXII. Few Popes in history have 
been the subject of more bitter denunciation than John. 
Writers on the history of the Papacy who were them- 
selves not members of the Catholic Church, have been 
almost a unit in condemning him for many abuses of 
Papal power, especially such as were associated with the 
employment of Church privileges for the accumulation 
of money. Certain Catholic historians even have not 
found themselves able to rid their appreciation of the 
character of Pope John from similar objections. It is 
acknowledged that he was one of the most learned men 
of his time. It is confessed that he was one of the most 
abstemious of men. Indeed, in this respect he has been 
very appropriately compared with Pope Leo XIII. He 
did succeed in setting the Papacy on a firm foundation 
in Avignon, and did arrange the financial economy of 
the Church in such a way that large amounts of money 
were bound to accumulate in the Papal treasury. 

This has been the main element of the accusations 
against him. A prominent American encyclopaedia 
summed up his character very trenchantly as follows : 
'* He was learned in Canon Law and was remarkable 
for avarice. " Many have not hesitated to say that even 
his condemnation of alchemy had for its main purpose 



the idea of added revenues for the Papal See, by the 
fines inflicted, and by the confiscation of the goods of 
those condemned as well as by the Court fees in the 
matter, though there is nothing in the decree to justify 
such an opinion, and we have pointed out that the fines 
collected were, according to the document itself, to be 
driven to the poor. 

With the ecclesiastical aspects of Pope John's charac- 
ter we have nothing to do here. It would require a 
large volimie by itself properly to tell the story of his 
life, for he was one of the most influential men of an 
important time, and though he ascended the Papal 
throne when he was past seventy, he lived to be ninety, 
and his pontificate is filled with evidence of his strenuous 
activity till the end of his Ufe. There is no doubt that 
the regulations for which he is responsible with regard 
to the Papal finances eventually led to very serious 
abuses in the Church. It is easy to understand, how- 
ever, how special arrangements had to be made for the 
support of the Holy See at Avignon. Pope John XXII. 's 
predecessor, Clement, was the first Pope who, because 
of the unsettled state of affairs in Italy and the influ- 
ence of the French King, resolved to live at Avignon 
instead of Rome. Under these circumstances, the ordi- 
nary sources of revenue for the support of the Papal 
Court, which required comparatively as expensive an 
establishment then as now, were more or less cut off. 
During the first pontificate at Avignon, this proved a 
serious drawback to ecclesiastical efficiency. In Pope 
John's time the necessity for providing revenues became 
acute. Besides, he wished to make the new Papal City 
as worthy of the Holy See as the old one had been. To 
him is largely due the development of Avignon, which 


occurred during the fourteenth century. The abuses 
which his regulations in this matter led to did not cul- 
minate in his time, but came later. The revenues 
obtained by him were, as we shall see, used to excellent 
purpose, and were applied to such educational and mis- 
sionary uses as would eminently meet the approval of 
the most demanding of critics in modem times. 

John was a liberal and discriminating patron of learn- 
ing and of education in his time. He helped colleges in 
various parts of the world, established a college in the 
East, and sent out many missionaries at his own ex- 
pense. These missionaries proved as efficient as modem 
travelers in adding to the knowledge of the East at that 
time, and practically laid the foundations of the science 
of geography.^ 

What is of special interest to us here, however, in 
this volume, is the fact that Pope John gave all the 
weight of the Papal authority, the most important in- 
fluence of the time in Europe, to the encouragement of 
medical schools, the maintenance of a high standard 
in them, and the development of scientific medicine. 
At this time medicine included many of the physical 
sciences as we know them at the present time. Botany, 
mineralogy, climatology, even astrology, as astronomy 
was then called, were the subjects of study by physi- 
cians, the last named because of the supposed influence 
of the stars on the human constitution. Because of his 
encouragement of medical schools and his emphatic in- 
sistence on their maintaining high standards. Pope John 
must be commended as a patron of science and as prob- 

^ Those who are interested in the wonderful thin^ accomplished for sreography by 
these missionary travelers of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, will find a 
brief account of them in the chapter on Geoflrraphy and Exploration in my book OD 
The Thirteenth. Greatest of Centuries. 


ably having exerted the most beneficial influence in his 
time on education. 

This is of course very different from what is usually 
said of this Pope. Prof. White can scarcely find words 
harsh enough to apply to him, because of his supposed 
superstition and the influence which he had upon his 
time in leading men's minds away from science and into 
the foolish absurdities of superstitious practices. Pope 
John XXII. is one of the special betes noiresof the some- 
time President of Cornell. Yet, I am sure that when the 
formal documents which Pope John has left relating to 
education and science are read by modem educators, 
they cannot help but consider him as one of their most 
enterprising colleagues in the realm of education. In- 
deed, a number of his bulls read very much like the 
documents that issue occasionally from college presidents 
with regard to the maintenance of standards in educa- 
tion, and his encouragement of the giving of the best 
possible opportunities for scientific and literary studies, 
and especially that the smaller colleges shall be equal as 
far as possible to the greater institutions of learning, 
will arouse the sjonpathetic interest of every educator 
of the modem day. 

The documents that I shall quote in translations (the 
originals may be found in the appendix) will show that 
the Pope wanted the doctorates in philosophy and in 
medicine to be given only after seven years of study, at 
least four of which were to be devoted to the post- 
graduate work in the special branch selected. He 
wished, moreover, to insist on the necessity for pre- 
liminary education. He wanted the permission to teach 
these branches, which in that day was equivalent to 
our term of doctorate, to be given in all institutions for 


the same amount of work and after similar tests. These 
are just the matters that have occupied the thougfhts of 
university presidents for the last quarter of a century, 
and have been the subjects of discussion in the meetings 
of various college and university associations. Pope 
John's bulls would be interesting documents to have 
read before such associations even at the present time, 
and would form excellent suggestive material on which 
the discussion of the necessity for maintaining college 
standards might well be founded. This is so different 
from what is usually thought in the matter, that person- 
ally I have found it even rather amusing. It is not 
amusing, however, to think that this great progressive, 
yet conservative educator should have been so mis- 
represented by modem educators and historians, simply 
because they did not study the man in his own writings, 
but knew him only at second hand from those who 
judged his character from another standpoint. 

All this will show John as really one of the greatest 
Popes not only in the century in which he lived, but as 
distinguished as only a comparatively small nimiber 
have been among the successors of Peter. Though he 
ascended the Papal throne at the age of seventy, the 
next twenty years were full of work of all kinds, and 
John's wonderful capacity for work stamps him as one 
of the great men of all time. It is a well-known rule, 
constantly kept in mind by Catholic students of history, 
that the Popes against whom the most objections are 
\irged by non-Catholic historians are practically always 
found, on close and sympathetic study, to be striking ex- 
amples of men who at least labored to accomplish much. 
As a rule, they strove to correct abuses, and as a con- 
sequence made bitter enemies, who left behind them 


many contemporary expressions of disapproval. Any 
contemporary authority is somehow supposed to be in- 
fallible. We forget, when a man tries to do good he is 
likely to meet with bitter opposition from many. If 
their expressions are taken seriously by historians who 
write with the purpose of finding just as little good and 
just as much evil as possible in a particular character, 
the resulting appreciation is likely to be rather far from 
the truth. If some of the criticisms of our present Pres- 
ident are only preserved long enough, how easy it will 
be for a future historian who may have the purpose of 
showing how much of evil began as the result of his 
policy, to find material on which to build up his thesis. 
Men who do nothing make no enemies and also make no 
mistakes. Fortunately, however, doing things is its own 

John XXII. had had eminent opportunities for the 
acquisition of an education as thorough, and a culture as 
broad, as any that might be afforded even by our educa- 
tional opportunities at the present time. He had been 
many years at the University of Paris ; he had traveled 
in England, a rare occurrence in those days, and had 
spent most of his time while there at Oxford ; he had 
also passed several years in Italy and was familiar with 
educational conditions down there. He certainly did 
more for education than any man of his generation. 
He had the greatest of opportunities, but it cannot but 
be said that he took them, very wonderfully. There are 
very few in all the history of education who have insisted 
as he on the important principles of the necessity for care- 
ful training, for the maintenance of high standards in 
examination and degree-giving, and for the endeavor to 
bring the large universities in intimate contact with the 


small ones, to the benefit especially of the latter, though, 
as we know now, always also to the reactionary advan- 
tage of the important institutions. All this is to be found 
in the documentary history of a man who has been set 
up as an object of scorn and derision by modem educa- 
tors, who surely, if they knew the actual facts, would 
be sympathetic, and not antipathetic as they have been. 

It seems too bad that it was just this man that should 
have been picked out for the slander that he had pre- 
vented the development of chemistry by a Papal decree, 
which proves on examination to be only an added evi- 
dence of his beneficent care for his people. But this is 
not the only charge that has been brought against Pope 
John XXIL President White has painted his character 
in the worst possible colors. Even after his attention was 
called to the fact that the document supposed to prohibit 
chemistry did not have any of the meaning which he 
attributed to it in his History of the Warfare of Science 
With Theology in Christendom, he still could find terms 
scarcely black enough in which to paint Pope John, and 
recurs to other documents issued by that Pope to prove 
his assertions. Strangely enough, especially after the 
warning of having had to acknowledge that one quota- 
tion from him was entirely wrong, he proceeds to quote 
another bull by the same Pope, that he has evidently 
never read, and his remarks with regard to it show that 
he never took the trouble to learn anything about this 
Pope by reading any of the original documents that he 
issued, but depends entirely on second-hand authorities. 
He says :— 

'*It is a pity that Dr. Walsh does not quote in full 
Pope John's other and much more interesting bull. Super 
iUius specula, of 1326. One would suppose from the 


doctor's account that this Pontiff was a kindly and ra- 
tional scholar seeking to save the people from the clutch 
of superstition. The bull of 1326 shows Pope John him- 
self, in spite of his infallibility, sunk in superstition, the 
most abject and debasing ; for, in this bull, supposed to 
be inspired from wisdom from on high. Pope John com- 
plains that both he and his flock are in danger of their 
lives by the arts of the sorcerers. He declares that such 
sorcerers can shut up devils in mirrors, finger-rings and 
phials, and kill men and women by a magic word ; that 
they had tried to kill him by piercing a waxen image of 
him with needles, in the name of the devil. He there- 
fore, not only in this bull, but in brief after brief, urged 
bishops, inquisitors and other authorities, sacred and 
secular, to hunt down the miscreants who thus afflicted 
the faithful, and he especially increased the power of 
the inquisitors in various parts of Europe for this pur- 
pose. This bull it was indeed, and others to the same 
purpose, which stimulated that childish fear and hatred 
against the investigation of nature which was felt for 
centuries and which caused chemistry to be known more 
and more as one of the ' seven devilish arts.' " 

There can be no doubt that this is an awful arraign- 
ment of a Pope. The bull in question is quoted so con- 
fidently under its Latin title that anyone who reads this 
paragraph must necessarily conclude that it contains all 
that President White says, and that he was fresh trom 
the reading of it I may say that, though I had already 
found that two other Papal documents had been utterly 
misrepresented in President White's references, I could 
not bring myself to think that the same thing might be 
trae with regard to this third Papal document cited by 
him. After having had two lessons in the necessity for 


careful collation of his references to his authorities, I 
did not think it possible for him to make another mis- 
quotation, if possible, more serious than the preceding 
examples. Though I had by me, thanks to my good 
friend Father Corbett, of St Charles Seminary, Over- 
brook, Pa., a copy of this bull at the time I wrote 
an answer to some of President White's curious wan- 
derings into the history of anatomy and chemistry, 
I did not consult it, for I felt sure that it must contain 
the expressions which were so confidently quoted. My 
surprise can be better imagined than described when on 
reading the bull I found that it contained practically no 
foundation for the awful charges made by President 
White. I had been given another lesson in the differ- 
ence between traditional and documentary history, the 
significance of which will, I hope, be appreciated by 
others. It led me to consult further bulls of John XXII., 
which bring out his character better than any modem 
historian possibly can, and which serve to show that, far 
from being an obscurantist in any sense of the word, he 
was deeply interested in education, expressed his appre- 
ciation for it on many occasions in the highest terms, 
encouraged his people to seek it, in any and every form, 
scientific as well as literary and philosophic, and stated 
confidently that education would surely redound to 
the benefit of the Church and deserved to be the special 
object of ecclesiastical favor. 

First, however, let me quote the bull Super illius spe- 
cula, of which President White has said so much. I 
present a close, almost literal, translation of the docu- 
ment as it is to be found in the collections of Thomas- 
setti and Coquelines. As President White conceded that 
my translation of the previous document of Pope John 


with regard to alchemy was flawless, I shall be careful 
not to undo his compliment^ 

"Seeking to discover how the sons of men know and 
serve (Jod by the practice of the Christian religion, we 
look down from the watch-tower where, though un- 
worthy, we have been placed by the favoring clemency 
of Him who made the first man after His own image 
and likeness ; setting him over earthly things ; adorning 
him with heavenly virtues ; recalling him when a wan- 
derer ; bestowing on him a law ; freeing him from 
slavery ; finding him when he was lost ; and finally ran- 
soming him from captivity by the merit of His passion. 
With grief we discover, and the very thought of it 
wrings our soul with anguish, that there are many 
Christians only in name ; many who turn away from 
liie light which once was theirs, and allow their minds 
to be so clouded with the darkness of error as to enter 
into a league with death and a compact with hell. They 
; sacrifice to demons and adore them, they make or cause 
' to be made images, rings, mirrors, phials or some such 
things in which by the art of magic evil spirits are to be 
enclosed. From them they seek and receive replies, and 
ask aid in satisfying their evil desires. For a foul pur- 
pose they submit to the foulest slavery. Alas ! this 
deadly malady is increasing more than usual in the world 
and inflicting greater and greater ravages on the flock 
of Christ. 

' ** Section L— Since, therefore, we are bound by the 
duty of our pastoral office to bring back to the fold of 
Christ the sheep who are wandering through devious 
ways and to exclude from the Lord's flock those who are 
diseased lest they should infect the rest. We, by this 
edict, which, in accordance with the counsel of our 
brother bishops, is to remain in perpetual vigor, warn 
all and in virtue of holy obedience and under pain of 
anathema enjoin on all those who have been regenerated 
I in the waters of baptism not to inculcate or study any 
\ of the perverse teachings we have mentioned, or, what 
is more to be condemned, practise them in any manner 
|upon any one. 

1 The full Latin text of this bull will be found in the appendix. 


"Section II.— And because it is just that those who 
by their deeds make mockery of the Most High should 
meet with punishments worthy of their transgressions 
we pronounce the sentence of excommunication which it 
is our will they shall ipso facto incur, who shall presume 
to act contrary to our salutary warnings and commands. 
And we firmly decree that in addition to the above pen- 
alties a process shall be begun before competent judges 
for the infliction of all and every penalty which heretics 
are subject to according to law, except confiscation of 
goods, against such as being duly admonished of the 
foregoing or any of the foregoing practices, have not 
within eight days from the time when the admoni- 
tion was given amended their lives in the aforesaid 

''Section III. —Moreover, since it is proper that no 
opportunity or occasion should be given for such flagi- 
tious practices, We, in conformity with the advice of our 
brother bishops, ordain and command that no one shall 
presume to have or to hold books or writing of any kind 
containing any of the before-mentioned errors or to 
piake a study of them. On the contrary, we desire and 
m virtue of holy obedience we impose the precept upon 
all, that whoever shall have any of the aforesaid writ- 
ings or books shall, within the space of eight days from 
their knowledge of our edict in this matter, destroy and 
bum them and every part thereof absolutely and com- 
pletely ; otherwise, we decree that they incur the sen- 
tence of excommunication ipso facto and, when the evi- 
dence is clear, that other and greater penalties shall be 
inflicted upon culprits of this kind." 

Now here is a Papal document that, far from contain- 
ing any of the superstitions that President White so out- 
spokenly declares it to contain, is a worthy expression 
of the fatherly feelings of the head of Christendom that 
might well have been issued at even the most enlight- 
ened period of the world's history. The two sentences 
on which all of President White's serious accusation is 
founded are simple expressions of the Pope's solicitude 
for his flock on hearing of some of the practices that 


some are said to give themselves up to. He does not 
say even that sorcerers can shut up devils in mirrors, 
finger-rings and phials, but uses the hypothetical ex- 
pression that in these things, by magic art, evil spirits 
are to be enclosed. The bull has no reference at all to 
the killing of men and women by a magic word, and 
where President White found that Pope John declares 
in this bull that sorcerers had tried to kill him by pierc- 
ing a waxen image of him with needles in the name of the 
devil, it is impossible to understand ; I should like very 
much to know what his authority is, because then it 
could be refuted in its source. As it is. Dr. White said 
it was in the bull, and now every one can see for him- 
self that it is not 

Let us go a step further and take President White's 
single sentence, "One would suppose from the doctor's 
(Dr. Walsh's) account that this Pontiff was a kindly and 
rational scholar seeking to save the people from the 
clutch of superstition," and let us illustrate the phrase 
**a kindly and rational scholar" by some documents is- 
sued by Pope John XXII. Take for instance the special 
bull issued by him for the confirmation of the establish- 
ment of chairs in canon and civil law, and the founding 
of masterships in medicine and in arts in the University 
of Perugia by which he also conveyed the authority to 
confer the degrees of doctor and bachelor in all these 
faculties on those who were found worthy after careful 
examinations. In the preamble of this bull we shall find 
abundant evidence of Pope John's kindly and rational 
scholarship, of his eminent desire to encourage educa- 
tion in all its forms, literary and scientific, and to make 
the people of his time understand how valuable he con- 
sidered education, not only for the sake of the individ- 


uals who might acquire it, but also for the Church and 
for the cause of religion. 
This bull was issued Feb. 18, 1321 : 

'* While with deep feelings of solicitous consideration 
we mentally resolve how precious the gift of science is 
and how desirable and glorious is its possession, since 
through it the darkness of ignorance is put to flight and 
the clouds of error completely done away with so that 
the trained intelligence of students disposes and orders 
their acts and modes of life in the light of truth, we are 
moved by a very great desire that the study of letters 
in which the priceless pearl of knowledge is found 
should everywhere make praiseworthy progress, and 
should especially flourish more abundantly in such places 
as are considered to be more suitable and fitting for the 
multiplication of the seeds and salutary germs of right 
teaching. Whereas some time ago. Pope Clement of 
pious memory, our predecessor, considering the purity 
of faith and the excelling devotion which the city of 
Perugia belonging to our Papal states is recognized to 
have maintained for a long period towards the church, 
wishing that these might increase from good to better 
in the course of time, deemed it fitting and equitable 
that this same city, which had been endowed by Divine 
Grace with the prerogatives of many special favors, should 
be distinguished by the granting of university powers, 
in order that by the goodness of God men might be 
raised up in the city itself pre-eminent for their learn- 
ing, decreed by the Apostolic authority that a university 
should be situated in the city and that it should flourish 
there for all future time with all those faculties that may 
be found more fully set forth in the letter of that same 
predecessor aforesaid. And whereas we subsequently, 
though unworthy, having been raised to the dignity of 
the Apostolic primacy, are desirous to reward with a 
still richer gift the same city of Perugia for the proofs 
of its devotion by which it has proven itself worthy of 
the favor of the Apostolic See, by our Apostolic author- 
ity and in accordance with the council of our brother 
bishops, we grant to our venerable brother the Bishop 
of Perugia and to those who may be his successors in 


that diocese the right of conferring on persons who are 
worthy of it the license to teach (the Doctorate) in canon 
and civil law, according to that fixed method which is 
more fully described and regulated more at length in this 
our letter. 

** Considering, therefore, that this same city, because 
of its conveniences and its many favoring conditions, is 
altogether suitable for students and wishing on that 
account to amplify the educational concessions hitherto 
made because of the public benefits which we hope will 
flow from them, we decree by Apostolic authority that 
if there are any who in the course of time shall in that 
same university attain the goal of knowledge in medical 
science and the liberal arts and should ask for license to 
teach in order that they may be able to train others with 
more freedom, that they may be examined in that uni- 
versity in the aforesaid medical sciences and in the arts 
and be decorated with the title of Master in these same 
faculties. We further decree that as often as any are 
to receive the degree of Doctor in medicine and arts as 
aforesaid, they must be presented to the Bishop of Pe- 
rugia, who rules the diocese at the time or to him whom 
the bishop shall have appointed for this purpose, who 
having selected teachers of the same faculty in which 
the examinations are to be made, who are at that time 
present in the university to the number of at least four, 
they shall come together without any charge to the can- 
didate and, every difficulty being removed, should dili- 
gently endeavor that the candidate be examined in 
science, in eloquence, in his mode of lecturing, and any- 
thing else which is required for promotion to the degree 
of doctor or master. With regard to those who are 
found worthy their teachers should be further consulted 
privately, and any revelation of information obtained 
at such consultations as might redound to the disadvan- 
tage or injury of the consultors is strictly forbidden. If 
all is satisfactory the candidate should be approved and 
admitted and the license to teach granted. Those who 
are found unfit must not be admitted to the degree of 
doctor, all leniency or prejudice or favor being set 

**In order that the said university may in the afore- 
said studies of medicine and the arts so much more fully 


grow in strength, according as the professors who ac- 
tually begin the work and teaching there are more skill- 
ful, we have decided that until four or five years have 
passed some professors, two at least, who have secured 
their degree in the medical sciences at the University of 
Paris, under the auspices of the Cathedral of Paris, and 
who shall have taught or acted as masters in the before- 
mentioned University of Paris, shall be selected for the 
duties of the masterships and the professional chairs 
in said department in the University of Perugia and 
they shall continue their work in this last-mentioned 
university until noteworthy progress in the formation of 
good students shall have bieen made. 

''With regard to those who are to receive the degree 
of doctor in medical science, it must be especially ob- 
served that all those seeking the degree shall have heard 
lectures in all the books of this same science which are 
usually required to be heard by similar students at the 
universities of Bologna or of Paris and that this shall 
continue for seven years. Those, however, who have 
elsewhere received sufficient instruction in logic or phil- 
osophy having applied themselves to these studies for 
five years in the aforesaid universities, with the provi- 
sion, however, that at least three years of the aforesaid 
five or seven-year term shall have been devoted to hear- 
ing lectures in medical science in some university, and 
according to custom, shall have been examined under 
duly authorized teachers and shall have, besides, read 
such books outside the regular course as may be re- 
quired may, with due observation of all the regulations 
which are demanded for the taking of degrees in Paris 
or Bologna, also be allowed to take the examination at 

Here is a bull issued within five years after the bull 
which President White so falsely impugns and which 
tells a very different story with regard to the relation- 
ship of the Popes to education in general, and especially 
to scientific education, from that which unfortunate mis- 
representations have accorded to them. Perugia was a 
city of the Papal States, though really scarcely more 


than under the dominion of the f opes in name. The 
citizens exercised a large freedom not only in all civic 
matters, but even in regard to their relationships with 
neighboring cities and political powers. One of the 
things which Pope John seems to have been especially 
solicitous about, however, as we shall see in a subse- 
quent bull, was that the educational institutions in the 
Papal States should be maintained at a high standard. 
A university had been established at Perugia by his pred- 
ecessor, and Pope John not only confirmed this estab- 
lishment, but gave the additional privilege of conferring 
degrees in Canon and Civil Law ks well as in Medicine 
and the Arts. 

Lest there should be any thought that the fact that 
the conferring of such privileges by the Pope might 
seem to be a limitation of university privilege, it may be 
said at once that pra tically all universities have at all 
times been under the supervision of Government and 
have derived their privileges from the political author- 
ities. During the Middle Ages the universities were 
really developments of Cathedral schools, and as such 
were usually under the authority of the Chancellor of 
the Cathedral As an ecclesiastical person he looked 
to the Pope as the source of his authority, and in 
order that uniformity of requirement for various degrees 
and of educational methods might be maintained, there 
was practically universal agreement that such central- 
ization of the power to grant privileges for the erection 
of universities and the conferring of degrees was the 
most practical way. With regard to Perugia besides 
there was the additional reason that the Pope repre- 
sented the political as well as the ecclesiastical authority 
in the matter, and that very naturally the encourage- 


ment for the good educational work already being done 
in the Umbrian City should come from him. 

This premised, certain features of this bull are espec- 
ially noteworthy in the light of modem educational ex- 
periences. The Pope was confirming the establishment 
of a new university. It was to be as he realized, a 
smaller university in size, but he did not want its stand- 
ard of education to be lower than that of the great uni- 
versities. For this reason he insists specifically in the 
bull that the license to teach— the equivalent of our 
modem doctorate in law, letters and science, shall not be 
given except after the completion of a course equivalent 
to those given in these subjects in Paris or Bologna, the 
great universities of the time, and that the examination 
shall be quite as rigid and shall be conducted under con- 
ditions that, as far as human foresight can arrange, 
shall preclude all possibility of favoritism of any kind 
entering into the promotion of candidates for these de- 
grees. The fact that oaths were required in the hope 
that standards would be thus maintained shows how 
seriously the subject of education was taken at this 
time, when, if we would believe some of those who de- 
preciate the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical efforts were 
mainly occupied with the attempt to keep the people as 
ignorant as possible. 

This phase of the Papal decree is all the more inter- 
esting when it is viewed in the light of some modem 
educational developments. A few years ago there was 
a very general complaint that the doctorate in philosophy 
was conferred too easily, especially by the minor uni- 
versities, and that as a consequence this degree had 
come to mean very little. It required a distinct crusade 
of effort to raise standards in this matter, and even at 


le present time the situation is not entirely satisf ac- 
)ry. A very curious element in the situation lies in 
le fact that, in comparison to the number of students, 
3rtain of the smaller universities confer this distinction 
luch more frequently than the larger universities. This 
as found to be true even among the German univer- 
ties, where I believe that according to statistics the 
ttle University of Rostock, in Mecklenberg, confers the 
Bgree proportionately of tener than any other German 
niversity. Pope John XXII. was evidently endeavor- 
\g to prevent any such development as this, or perhaps 
e was trying to remedy an abuse which he knew had 
Iready crept in, for all of his bulls on educational mat- 
»rs insist with no little emphasis on the necessity for 
le maintenance of a high standard of educational re- 
uirements as regards the length of time in years and 
le books to be read and lectures attended, as well as 
a the rigor, yet absolute fairness of examinations. 

I am sure that the bulls of John XXII. must never 
ave come under President White's eyes, or he, as an ex- 
erienced educator who has had to meet most of these 
roblems in our time, would have been more sympathetic 
ith this medieval ecclesiastic, who did all in his power 
) maintain university standards. Pope John's career 
eserves study by all modem educators for this reason, 
tid the surprise of it will be that in education, as prac- 
cally in everything else, in spite of our present-day 
3lf -complacency in the matter of educational progress, 
lere is nothing new under the sun, certainly nothing 
ew in the problems university authorities have to meet 
1 order to maintain their standards. 

The best possible proof that Pope John XXII. was not 
pposed in any way to the development of science nor 


to the Study of sciences at the universities is to be found 
in his establishment of this medical school at Perugia. 
We may say at once that this is not the only medical 
school with whose encouragement he was Concerned since 
the erection of the University of Cahors, his birthplace, 
and the establishment of a medical school there, as well 
as the provision of funds for certain medical chairs in 
the University at Rome, shows the reality and the 
breadth of his interest in medicine. It must be remem- 
bered that under the term medicine at this time most of 
the physical sciences as we know them now were in- 
cluded. It is the custom sometimes to think that the 
students of medicine in the Middle Ages knew very little 
about medicine itself or the sciences related to medi- 
cine. This thought was excusable some years ago when 
the old medical text-books of the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries had not as yet been printed. 

At the present time, such a mistake would be un- 
pardonable for any scholar who pretends to first-hand 
knowledge of this period. In the chapter on Science at 
the Medieval Universities I call special attention to the 
fact that medicine and surgery developed in such a 
wonderful way at the medical schools of the universities 
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that many 
presumed discoveries of much later times were marvel- 
ously anticipated. A short catalogue of them here may 
not be out of place, though the reader is referred to 
other chapters for further details. In the medical 
schools which Pope John XXII. was then fostering, they 
taught the ligature of arteries, the prevention of bleed- 
ing by pressure, the danger of wounds of the neck, the 
relation of dropsy to hardening of the kidneys, the true 
origins of the venereal diseases, the methods of treating 


joint diseases, the suture of divided nerves, the use of 
the knife rather than the cautery because it made a 
cleaner wound which healed more readily, and even, 
wonder of wonders, healing by first intention. Anyone 
who was fostering this kind of education in medicine 
was advancing the cause of one of the applied sciences 
in a very wonderful way. 

If we add that, at this same time the proper use of 
opium in medicine was a feature of medical teaching 
which had just been introduced by a Papal physician, 
while a form of anaesthesia was being practically devel- 
oped and very generally employed, the question will 
be why we, in the twentieth century, do not know 
ever so much more than we actually do, rather than 
why these earnest students of the thirteenth century 
knew so little, which is the absurd thought that most 
authorities in education seem to entertain at the present 
time with regard to our forbears of early university 
history. The student of medicine during the thirteenth 
century had to devote himself ^ery nearly to the same 
department of science as those which occupy his col- 
leagues of the present century. 

The prospectus of a medical school of the time would 
announce very probably some such program of studies 
as this. Besides learning something of astrology (the 
astronomy of the day) the student would be expected to 
know much about climate and its influence on disease, 
and about soil in its relation to pathology (these were 
supposed to be fruitful causes of disease). Certain min- 
erals, among them very probably antimony, were begin- 
ning to be used in medical practice, and so mineralogy was 
a special subject of study. Of plants they were expected 
to know in a general way much more than the modem 


medical student, to whom botany is not considered of 
much importance, and of zoology they probably had at 
least as great practical knowledge, since many of their 
dissections were made on animals, and the differences in 
structure between them and man were pointed out when 
the annual anatomies or human dissections at the uni- 
versities were made. Of pharmacology and the allied 
subject, chemistry, they had to know all that would 
enable them to use properly the several hundred vege- 
table remedies then used in medicine. This will give 
an idea, then, what were in general the studies which 
Pope John was trjdng to foster with so much care in the 
University of Perugia. 

There is another phase of his regulations with regard 
to medical schools which cannot but prove of the greatest 
interest to members of our present-day medical faculties. 
It has been realized for some time, that what is needed 
more than anything else to make good physicians for the 
present generation is that medical students should have 
a better preliminary education than has been the case in 
the past. In order to secure this, various states have 
required evidence of a certain number of years spent at 
high school or college before a medical student's certifi- 
cate allowing entrance into a medical school will be 
granted. Some of the most prominent medical schools 
have gone even farther than this, and have required 
that a degree in arts should be obtained in the under- 
graduate department before medical studies may be 
taken up. Something of this same kind was manifestly 
in Pope John's mind when he required that seven 
years should have been spent at a university, at least 
three years of which should have been entirely de- 
voted to medical studies, before the candidate might 


be allowed to go up for his examination for the doctor's 

As we begin the twentieth century, we note that the 
presidents of our American universities are trying to se- 
cure just exactly the same number of years of study for 
candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine, as this 
medieval Pope insisted on as a prerequisite for the same 
degree in a university founded in the Papal States at the 
beginning of the fourteenth century. After the year 
1910 most of the large universities in this country will 
not admit further students to their medical departments 
unless they have a college degree or its equivalent, that 
is, unless they have devoted four years to college under- 
graduate work. It is generally understood, that in the 
last year of his undergraduate course the student who 
intends to take up medicine may elect such scientific 
studies in the college department as will obtain for him 
an allowance of a year's work in the medical school. He 
will then be able to complete his medical course in three 
years, so that our modem institutions will, if our plans 
succeed, require just exactly the same amount of time for 
the doctorate in Medicine as Pope John demanded, and 
not only demanded, but required by legal regulation, for 
this bull was a law in the Papal States, just six centuries 
ago. The coincidence is so striking that, only that it is 
supported by documentary evidence of the best kind, we 
could scarcely believe it 

Yet it is the Pope who encouraged devotion to science 
in all forms as it was studied in his day, who insisted 
that the standards of education in the universities of the 
Papal States, over which he had direct control, should 
be equal to those of Paris and Bologna, who suggested 
that teachers should be brought from the famous uni- 


versities for the purpose of introducing the best educa- 
tional methods, who is now declared by President White 
to have ''stimulated the childish fear and hatred against 
the investigation of nature which was felt for centuries, 
and whose decrees and briefs are said to have caused 
chemistry to be known more and more as one of the 
'seven deviUsh arts.' " Here is the striking difference 
between traditional and dociunentary history. 

There are other bulls of Pope John which serve to 
bring out his interest in education quite as clearly as this 
one, and show that the ecclesiastics of the time were 
encouraged to think and act up to the thought, that edu- 
cation of all kinds was sure to be of benefit to the Church 
and her members. In extending the privileges of the 
University of Perugia on another occasion by the bull 
Inter ceteras euros, John declared that among the other 
cares which were enjoined on him from on high by his 
Apostolic office and amongst the many projects which 
were constantly in his mind for the betterment of re- 
ligion, his thoughts were directed more frequently and 
more ardently to this conclusion than to any other, that 
the professors of the Catholic faith whom the true light 
of the true faith illuminates should be imbued with the 
deepest wisdom and should become erudite in all the 
studies that bring profitable knowledge. For, he adds, 
this gift cannot be bought by any price, but is divinely 
granted to minds that are of good will. For the posses- 
sion of knowledge is evidently desirable, since by it the 
darkness of ignorance and the gloom of error are entirely 
done away with and the intelligence of students is in- 
creased so as to direct all their acts and deeds in the 
light of truth. '* It is for this reason (and no wonder), " 
he adds, "that I am led to encourage the study of 


letters in which the priceless pearl of knowledge is to be 
found, and especially in such places as may bear worthy 
fruit for the Church itself and for its members/' 

The expressions that he here uses are almost word for 
word, though not quite the same as occur in other bulls, 
showing that a sort of formula was constantly used to 
express the opinion of the Holy See with regard to the 
desirableness of knowledge and the benefit that might 
be expected to flow from education. Not all of the bull, 
however, is a formula, since in the rest of it Pope John 
insists that at least five years must be required at the 
imiversity for the study of Canon and Civil Law, ajid de- 
tailed injunctions are set forth as to the method of ex- 
amination so as to secure two things, first that a proper 
standard shall be maintained and that those who have 
completed the course shall have the right to examina- 
tions without further payment of fees, and secondly, 
that such examinations shall be absolutely fair, without 
any favor being shown to the applicant in any way, and 
at the same time without any prejudice being allowed to 
influence his examiners against him. 

Lest readers should be tempted to think of Perugia as 
a town of very slight importance from a political and 
civil standpoint, and therefore consider anything done 
for it as amounting to very little in the culture or in- 
fluence of the period, a short sketch of it will not be 
out of place. This little town has had the distinction of 
being the center of interest in at least four marvelous 
epochs of human development Long before Roman 
civilization in Italy arose, the Etruscans did some of their 
greatest art-work in the country around Perugia, the 
remains of which have been unearthed in recent years. 
Seven centuries later, the Romans left some magnificent 


architectural monuments of their occupation of this 
neighborhood. Somewhat more than a thousand years 
passed, and St. Francis breathed his profound spirit of 
love for nature in all its forms into the world almost 
within sight of its walls, and with him the Renaissance 
began. The great Umbrian school of painters in the 
Renaissance period came from this district, and they in- 
clude such names as Raphael and his great master Peru- 
gino, who received his name from his birthplace. Before 
John XXII. did so much to make it a center of culture 
and education for this portion of Italy, it had been noted 
in the early part of the thirteenth century for possessing 
a library of Canon and Civil Law to which scholars often 
traveled from great distances for consultation purposes. 
The Pope, then, though in distant Avignon, was greatly 
helping on that movement which was to culminate and 
mean so much for Umbria, that great center of culture 
and influence in the Renaissance time. 

In erecting the University of Cahors, Pope John took 
occasion to say that he did so because the city promised 
to provide facilities and proper conditions for the uni- 
versity and he believed that the existence of such an in- 
stitution would in very many ways be of benefit to the 
commonwealth. He wished, therefore, that in Cahors, 
** a copious, refreshing fountain of science should spring 
up and continue to flow, from whose abundance all the 
citizens might drink, and where those desirous of educa- 
tion might become imbued with knowledge so that the 
cultivators of wisdom might sow seed with success and 
all the student body become learned and eloquent and in 
every way distinguished, bearing abundant fruit which 
the Lord in His own good time would give them if they 
applied themselves with good will.'* He wished that 


the erection of the university should be considered as a 
special reward for their devotion to the Holy See and 
should always stand as a memorial of that 

The thought may possibly occur to some that Pope 
John, after having issued these noteworthy documents 
in the cause of education in the early years of his pon- 
tificate, might subsequently have changed his mind and 
considered with advancing years that the repression of 
the enthusiasm for learning would be better for his 
I)eople from a spiritual standi)oint There is, however, 
no sign of this to be found in the important documents 
of his pontificate, nor would anyone think of it who real- 
ized that John became Pope at the age of 72, after hav- 
ing a very wide personal experience in political affairs as 
well as ecclesiastical matters, an experience which took 
him over many parts of Europe and must have greatly 
broadened his intellectual horizon, and that he remained 
in full possession of his wonderful intellectual i)owers 
until he was well past 90. Within two years before his 
death he issued the bull which laid the foundation of the 
University of Cahors, his native place. This he did at 
the request of the citizens of the town, who pleaded that 
no better memorial of their great fellow citizen who had 
become Pope could be raised among them than a uni- 

In the light of these other bulls it is not surprising 
to find that John should also have endeavored to main- 
tain the standard of the University of the City of Rome. 
It must be remembered that at this time the Popes were 
at Avignon, and that as a consequence the population of 
the city of Rome had greatly decreased and there were 
80 many civic dissensions that very little attention could 
be given to educational matters. Pope John issued a 


bull, however, from Avignon, confirming the erection of 
the University of the City of Rome by his predecessor 
of happy memory, Boniface VIII. (the same who is 
said, though falsely, to have hampered the development 
of anatomy), and further laying down regulations for 
the maintenance of the standard of education in the 
Roman University. In this bull John says that he con- 
siders that a Pope could confer no greater favor on the 
City of Cities so closely attached to the Roman Church, 
than to bring about the re-establishment of the univer- 
sity there, so that the inhabitants and the visitors to 
Rome might all have the opportunity and also the in- 
citement to seek after wisdom, for this is a gift which 
comes from on high, which cannot be bought for a price, 
but which is only granted to those who seek it with good 

John proceeds to say that he hopes that the city of 
Rome shall, under the favor of Providence, produce men of 
pre-eminent worth in science, and that in order that the 
wishes of Pope Boniface VIII. in this matter may be ful- 
filled he confirms and extends all the privileges which 
had been originally granted. In the University at Rome 
there were also professors of medicine, and there is good 
historical authority for the assertion that John himself 
offered to pay out of the Papal revenues the salary of the 
professor of physic, in order that this department of the 
university might become established as firmly as were 
the other departments. In a word, in the documentary 
evidence so readily available to any one who wishes to 
consult it, we find John manifesting that he was **a 
kindly and rational scholar," to use President White's 
expression, ''seeking," surely if education shall have 
any such effect, and in modem times we have been led 


to believe that it can, "to save the people from the 
dutch of superstition." President White has employed 
the expression satirically. I think that any one who 
reads the contemporary documents in the case must 
acknowledge that it is literally true. 

The life of Pope John XXII. is a striking example of the 
difference between traditional and documentary history. 
According to the traditions that have gathered around 
his name, John has been declared by many to be one of 
the banes of civilization and education in the Middle 
Ages. A little study of the documents issued by him 
shows him in quite a different light He was not only 
interested in educational matters of every kind, but he 
was deeply intent, and as far as the Papal power en- 
abled him he succeeded in carrying out his intention, 
of making education thoroughly effective in every de- 
partment. It is by a man's intentions that he must be 
judged. John meant to do everything for the best. 
Unfortunately, some of his actions in the matter of the 
provision of revenues became subject later to abuse. 
For this it is hard to understand how he should be held 
responsible. In the meantime, for educators, the study 
of the actual documents issued by him and their utterly 
different significance from what might be expected ac- 
cording to the usually accepted notion of his character, 
cannot but prove a lesson in historical values. It illus- 
trates very well a phase of history that has recently been 
called to attention. 

As we have said, one hundred years ago De Maistre 
declared that history had been a conspiracy against the 
truth. At last a universal recognition is coming of the 
fact that history has been written entirely too much 
from the personal standpoint of the historian without 


due reference to contemporary documents and authori- 
ties, or with the citation of only such references from 
these as would support the special contention of the 
writer. Even the writers of history whose reputation 
has been highest have suffered from this fault, and the 
consequence is that on disputed points it is more impor- 
tant to know what party a historian belongs to than 
what he writes. 

Is it not time that at least our educators should cease 
accepting this old traditional opinion with regard to the 
times before the reformation so-called, and get at the 
truth in the matter, or as near it as possible. These 
educators of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries 
were zealous and earnest beyond cavil. That everyone 
admits. It is supposed, however, that they were ridic- 
ulously ignorant and superstitious. Only those who are 
themselves ridiculously ignorant and superstitious, for 
the real meaning of superstition is persistence in accept- 
ing a supposed truth that is a survival (superstes) from 
a previous state of knowledge, after the reasons for its 
acceptance have been shown to be groundless, will con- 
tinue to believe this absurd proposition. If the educator 
of the modem day will only study with the sympathy they 
deserve, the lives of the earliest educators of modem 
times, the professors, the officials, and the ecclesiastical 
authorities as well as the Papal patrons of the universi- 
ties of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, we shall 
hear no more of the Church during the Middle Ages 
having been opposed to education, nor to science, nor to 
any other department of human knowledge. 


It is with regard to surgery that the opposition of the 
Church is sometimes supposed to have been most serious 
in its effects upon the progress of medical science and 
its applications for the relief of hirnian suffering. Pres- 
ident White has stated this, as usual, very emphatically 
in certain paragraphs of his chapter on From Miracles 
to Medicine, especially under the caption of Theological 
Discouragement of Medicine. He says, for instance :— 

** As to surgery, this same amalgamation of theology 
with survivals of pagan beliefs continued to check 
,the evolution of medical science down to the modem 
epoch. The nominal hostility of the Church to the 
shedding of blood withdrew, as we have seen, from 
surgical practice the great body of her educated men ; 
hence surgery remained down to the fifteenth century 
a despised profession, its practice continued largely in 
the hands of charlatans, and down to a very recent 
period the name * barber-surgeon ' was a survival of this. 
In such surgery, the application of various ordures re- 
lieved fractures ; the touch of the hangman cured 
sprains ; the breath of a donkey expelled poison ; friction 
with a dead man's tooth cured toothache." 

In another and earlier portion of the same chapter, 
under the heading ''Theological Opposition to Anatomi- 
cal Studies," he states the reasons why this low state of 
surgical practice existed. Once more it is declared to be 



because of a prohibitory decree, or several of them, di- 
rected against the practice of surgery by ecclesiastical 
authorities. These decrees, we shall find, as was true of 
previous supposed prohibitions, are entirely perverted 
from their real meaning by President White, who has the 
happy faculty of lighting upon mares' nests of Papal 
decrees and decrees of councils and neglecting to pay 
any attention to the real history of the science of which 
he writes. President White says : 

' ' To those arguments against dissection was now added 
another one which may well fill us with amazement It 
is the remark of the foremost of recent English philoso- 
phical historians, that of all organizations in human his- 
tory, the Church of Rome has caused the greatest spilling 
of innocent blood. No one conversant with history, even 
though he admit all possible extenuating circumstances 
and honor the older Church for the great circimistances 
which can undoubtedly be claimed for her, can deny this 
statement. Strange is it, then, to note that one of the 
main objections developed in the Middle Ages against 
anatomical studies was the maxim that ' The Church ab- 
hors the shedding of blood.' " 

**0n this ground, in 1248, the Council of Le Mans for- 
bade surgery to monks. Many other councils did the 
same, and at the end of the thirteenth century came the 
most serious blow of all : for it was then that Pope Boni- 
face VIII., without any of that foresight of consequences 
which might well have been expected in an infallible 
teacher, issued a decretal forbidding a practice which 
had come into use during the Crusades, namely, the 
separation of the fiesh from the bones of the dead whose 
remains it was desired to carry back to their own 
country." Note always the return to Pope Boniface's 


bull and always the perversion of the meaning of the 
word infallibility. 

I have already stated the real significance of Boniface's 
bull. It neither forbade, nor did its interpretation in 
any way hamper, the development of anatomy. Just 
exactly the same thing is true with regard to the Papal 
regulations or decrees of councils that are claimed to have 
hampered surgery. President White and others have in- 
sisted that the prohibition of surgery to monks and 
priests prevented the development of surgery or was 
responsible for the low state of surgical practice. Here 
once more we are in the presence of a deduction, and not 
of an induction that represents the actual facts in the 
case. Most students at the universities were clerks, that 
is, had the privileges of clergymen, and were, as a rule^ 
in minor orders. All the great surgeons of this time, 
and they were many, were ecclesiastics. 

The climax of President White's treatment of the re- 
lationship of the Church to surgery and of the intense 
opposition manifested by ecclesiastics to surgical progress, 
and, I may add, the climax of absurdity as far as the real 
history of surgery is concerned, comes in the last para- 
graph of this portion of his chapter on From Miracles to 
Medicine, which President White has placed under the title 
Theological Opposition to Anatomical Studies. He says : 

'*So deeply was the idea rooted in the mind of the 
Universal Church that for over a thousand years surgery 
was considered dishonorable; the greatest monarchs 
were often unable to secure an ordinary surgical opera- 
tion ; and it was only in 1406 that a better beginning 
was made, when the Emperor Wenzel of Germany or- 
dered that dishonor should no longer attach to the surgi- 
cal profession." 


President White insists over and over again that what- 
ever surgery there was, and especially whatever progress 
was made in surgery, was due to the Arabs, or at least 
to Arabian initiative. Gurlt, in his History of Surgery,^ 
which we have referred to elsewhere, is very far from 
sharing this view. I need scarcely say that Gurlt is one 
of our best authorities in the history of surgery. In his 
sketch of Roger, the first of the great Italian surgeons 
of the thirteenth century who came after the foundation 
of the universities, Gurlt says that, "though Arabian 
writings on surgery had been brought over to Italy by 
Constantine Africanus a himdred years before Roger's 
time, those exercised no influence over Italian surgery in 
the next century, and there is not a trace of the surgical 
knowledge of the Arabs to be found in Roger's work." 
His writing depends almost entirely upon the surgical 
traditions of his time, the experience of his teachers and 
colleagues, to whom in two places he has given due 
credit, and on the Greek writers. There are no traces of 
Arabisms to be found in Roger's writing, while they are 
full of Grecisms. Roger represents the first important 
writer on surgery in modem times, and his works have 
been printed several times because of their value as 
original documents. 

It is wonderfully amusing to anyone who knows Gurlt's 
History of Surgery, ^ that the distinguished old professor 
of the University of Berlin, looked up to as so well in- 
formed as to the history of the branch of medical science 
to which he had devoted a long life, should have wasted 
some three hundred pages of his first volume on the His- 

1 Geschichte der Chirurarie und ihrer Ausiibun?. Von Dr. E. Gurlt, VoL L, p. 70L 

2 Geschichte der Chirur?ie und ihrer AusUbunfir. Von Dr. E. Gurlt, Gch. Med. Rath. 
Prof, der Chirurfirie an der Eonifflichen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universit&t su Berlin. 
Berlin, 1896. 


tory of Surgery in Middle and West Europe during the 
Middle Ages, for they are mainly taken up with the con- 
sideration of the period when President White asserts 
that there was no surgery in Europe. Gurlt even pro- 
tests that he has not as much space as he would like to 
devote to these old-time masters of surgery, who did so 
much to lay the foundation of modem surgical practices. 
Those who have paid any attention to President White's 
assertion with regard to surgery at this time, should 
at least look over Gurlt They will thus realize what 
a dangerous thing it is to attempt large conclusions 
in the history of a department of knowledge of which 
one knows nothing. They will also realize how easy 
it is for a writer with some prestige, to lead others 
astray in a matter of history, by simply making asser- 
tions without taking the trouble to see whether they are 
supported by the facts in the case or not 

The modem American historian of Theology and 
Science says, "for over a thousand years surgery was 
considered dishonorable. ' ' For the sake of contrast with 
this opinion of President White's, read for a moment the 
following remarks which constitute the opening sentences 
of Pagel's paragraphs on Surgery from 1200 to 1500, in 
Puschmann's Handbuch of the History of Medicine, al- 
ready referred to. Before making the quotation, let me 
recall attention to the fact that Professor Pagel is the 
best informed living writer on the history of medicine. 
rhis book was issued in 1902. It is universally conceded 
to contain the last words on the history of medical 
development. There is no doubt at all about its absolute 
authoritativeness. President White has been calling on 
his imagination ; Professor Pagel has consulted original 
documents in the history of surgery. He says : 


* * A more favorable star shone during the whole Middle 
Ages over surgery than over practical medicine. The 
representatives of this specialty succeeded earlier than 
did the practical physicians in freeing themselves from 
the ban of scholasticism. In its development a more 
constant and more eveti progress cannot fail to be seen. 
The stream of literary works on surgery flows richer 
during this period. While the surgeons are far from 
being able to emancipate themselves from the ruling 
pathological theories, there is no doubt that in one de- 
partment, that of manual technics, free observation came 
to occupy the first place in the effort for scientific pro- 
gress. Investigation is less hampered and concerns it- 
self with practical things and not with artificial theories. 
Experimental observation was in this not repressed by 
an unfortunate and iron-bound appeal to reasoning." I 
am tempted to add as a reflection, deduction was not 
allowed to replace attention to facts, though it has in 
some supposed surgical history of this period. 

Pagel continues : * ' Indeed, the lack of so-called scholar- 
ship, the freshness of view free from all prejudice with 
which surgery, uninfluenced by scholastic presmnption, 
was forced to enter upon the objective consideration of 
things, while most of the surgeons brought with them 
to their calling an earnest vocation in union with great 
technical facility, caused surgery to enter upon ways in 
which it secured, as I have said, greater relative success 
than did practical medicine." 

President White has evidently never bothered to look 
into a history of surgery at all, or he would not have 
fallen into the egregious error of saying that the period 
from 1200 to 1400 was barren of surgery, for it is really 
one of the most important periods in the development of 


modem surgery. Further evidence as to this is rather 
easy to obtain. 

I have cited two German authorities in the history of 
medicine and surgery. Here is an English writer who 
is quite as authoritative. In the address on The Histori- 
cal Relations of Medicine and Surgery to the end of the 
Sixteenth Century, which Professor Clifford AUbutt, the 
Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Cam- 
bridge, delivered by special invitation at the Congress of 
Arts and Sciences of St Louis in 1904, this distinguished 
authority in the history of medicine had much to say 
with regard to the wonderful development of surgery in 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that is, during 
the period when, if we were to accept President White's 
declarations, surgery either did not exist, or else had 
been relegated to such mere handicraftsmen that no real 
scientific progress in it could possibly be expected. As 
Professor Allbutt was trying only to give a twentieth 
century audience some idea of the magnificent work that 
had been accomplished by fellow members of his profes- 
sion of medicine seven centuries before, and had no idea 
of discussing the influence, favorable or otherwise, of 
the Church upon the progress of medical science, I have 
preferred to quote directly from this address for evi- 
dence of the surgery of these centuries, than to gather 
the details from many sources, when it might perhaps 
be thought that I was making out a more favorable case 
than actually existed, for the sake of the Church and 
the Popes. 

''Both for his own great merits as an original and in- 
dependent observer and as the master of Lanfranc, Wil- 
liam Salicet (Gugliemo Salicetti of Piacenza, in Latin G. 
Placentinus or de Saliceto— now Cadeo) was eminent 


among the great Italian physicians of the latter half of 
the thirteenth century. Now, these great Italians were 
as distinguished in surgery as in medicine, and William 
was one of the protestants of the period against the di- 
vision of surgery from inner medicine— a division which 
he regarded as a separation of medicine from intimate 
touch with nature. Like Lanf ranc and the other great 
surgeons of the Italian tradition, and unlike Franco and 
Pare, he had the advantage of the liberal university edu- 
cation of Italy ; but, like Par6 and Wttrtz, he had large 
practical experience in hospital and in the battlefidd. 
He practiced first at Bologna, afterwards in Verona. 
William fully recognized that surgery cannot be learned 
from books only. His surgery contains many case his- 
tories, for he rightly opined that good notes of cases are 
the soundest foundation of good practice ; and in this 
opinion and method Lanfranc followed him. William 
discovered that dropsy may be due to a **durities 
renum "; he substituted the knife for the Arabist abuse 
of the cautery ; he investigated the causes of the failure 
of healing by first intention ; he described the danger of 
wounds of the neck ; he sutured divided nerves ; he for- 
warded the diagnosis of suppurative disease of the hip ; 
and he referred chancre and phagedaena to '' their proper 

Anyone who knows the history of surgery and of sup- 
posed modem progress in medicine will recognize at 
once that many of these ideas of Salicet are anticipations 
of discoveries supposed to have been made in the nine- 
teenth century. The connection between dropsy and 
hardening of the kidneys is a typical example of this. 
The fact that William should have insisted that surgery 
cannot be learned from books is an open contradiction 


of what is so frequently said about scholasticism having 
invaded the realm of medicine, and the study of books 
having replaced the study of patients. It is not sur- 
prising that with his study of cases William should have 
recognized the danger of wounds of the neck, nor that 
he should have taught the suture of divided nerves. It 
cannot fail to be a matter of surprise, however, that he 
should have any hint of the possibility of union by first 
intention, for that is supposed to be quite recent, and 
the knowledge he displays of venereal diseases is sup- 
posed to have come into medicine and surgery at least 
two centuries later. 

Allbutt next takes up Salicet's great pupil Lanf ranc. 
"Lanfranc's 'Chirurgia Magna' was a great work, 
written by a reverent but independent follower of Sali- 
ceL He distinguished between venous and arterial 
hemorrhage, and used styptics (rabbit's fur, aloes, and 
white of egg was a popular styptic in older surgery), 
digital compression for an hour, or in severe cases liga- 
ture. His chapter on injuries of the head is one of the 
classics of medieval surgery. Clerk as he was, Lanfranc 
nevertheless saw but the more clearly the danger of 
separating surgery from medicine. 'Good God!' he 
exclaims, * why this abandoning of operations by phy- 
sicians to lay persons, disdaining surgery, as I perceive, 
because they do not know how to operate ... an abuse 
which has reached such a point that the vulgar begin to 
think that the same man cannot know medicine and sur- 
gery ... I say, however, that no man can be a 
good physician who has no knowledge of operative sur- 
gery; a knowledge of both branches is essential.' 
(Chir. Magna.) Is it not strange that this ancient was 
wiser than most of us are even yet" 


Striking as all this is, much more that is of interest 
might be added to it from Pagel's account of Lanfranc's 
work. Pagel says that he has excellent chapters on the 
affections of the eyes, the ears and mouth, the nose, 
even the teeth, and treats of hernia in a very practical, 
common sense way. He warns against the radical oper- 
tion, and says in phrases that have often been repeated 
even in our own time, that many surgeons decide on 
operations too easily, not for the sake of the patient, but 
for the sake of the money there is in them. He believes 
that most of the danger and inconvenience of the hernia 
can be removed by means of a properly fitting truss. He 
treats of stone in the kidney, but insists that the main 
thing for this affection is prophylaxis. He suggests that 
stone in the bladder should first be treated by internal 
remedies ; but in severe cases advises extraction. Lan- 
franc's discussion of cystotomy, Pagel characterizes **as 
prudent, yet rational," for he considers that the opera- 
tion should not be feared too much nor delayed too long. 
In patients suffering from the inconvenience which comes 
from large quantities of fluid in the abdomen, he advises 
paracentesis abdominis. He warns, however, against 
putting the patient in danger from such an operation 
without due consideration and only when symptoms ab- 
solutely demand it. 

Pagel says that Lanfranc must be considered as one 
of the greatest of the surgeons of the Middle Ages and 
the real founder of the French School of Surgery which 
continued to be the most prominent in the world down 
to the nineteenth century. Lanfranc had equalled, if 
not surpassed, his great master William Salicet. His own 
disciple, Mondeville, accomplished almost as much for 
surgery as his master, however. Both of them were 


destined tx) be thrown into the shade for succeeding 
generations by another great French surgeon of the next 
half -century, Guy de Chauliac. Pagel can scarcely say 
enough of the capacity as a teacher of Lanfranc. The 
seeds of surgical doctrine which he sowed bore fruit 
richly. His important successors in French surgery 
walked for the most part in his tracks and thus fur- 
nished the best proof of the enduring character of his 
capacity as a teacher. 

The next great name in thirteenth century surgery, 
for we are not yet out of that fruitful period, is Henri 
de Mondeville. He was known by his contemporaries 
and immediate successors as the most cultured of the 
surgeons. Whatever he wrote bears the traces of his 
wide reading and of his respect for authority, yet shows 
also his power to make observations for himself, and his 
name is due much more to his independent work both in 
the technics and the diagnostics of surgery, than to his 
reputation for scholarship or the depth of his culture. 
Lanfranc (whose name was Lanfranchi) had been an 
Italian. Mondeville was bom in Normandy sometime 
about the beginning of the last quarter of the thirteenth 
century. The place of his education is not absolutely 
sure, but there is good authority for sajdng that he was, 
for a time at least, in Bologna. On his return from 
Italy he passed some time, just at the beginning of the 
fourteenth century, in Montpelier. He seems to have 
looked for a professorship at Montpelier, but instead re- 
ceived the appointment as surgeon to the French king, 
Philip Le Bel. This brought him to Paris, where the 
first portion of his book on surgery was written about 
1306. This was not completed until 1312. His work was 
interrupted by several campaigns on which he attended 


the king along the Northern coast When he again took 
up his work of writing, he revised what he had written 
at first by the light of the experience that he had ac- 
quired in the campaign. Pagel says that his style is 
lively and clear and often full of meat Many of his own 
opinions and experiences are incorporated in his work, 
and in spite of his tendency to display his erudition by 
quotations, his originality is not seriously interfered 

Some of his remarks are very curiously interesting to 
the modem. He seems to have had the idea that por- 
tions of metal which had penetrated the body as the re- 
sult of explosions, for gun-powder was ab*eady being 
used, might be removed by means of a magnet He 
would not have been a distinguished surgeon without in- 
venting a needle-holder, and accordingly we find that he 
was one of the first of a long line of such inventors. He 
invented certain instruments also for the removal of 
arrow-heads, which because of their form and hooks be- 
come firmly imbedded in the tissues. Mondeville had 
no such fear of trephining as Lanfranc had, though he 
did not hesitate to emphasize the value of expectant 
treatment in most of these cases of injury to the head 
that might seem at first to demand the trephine. 

Pagel notes the fact that when he prescribed drinks 
for his patients this medieval surgeon suggested that 
certain verses of the psalms which were usually recited, 
according to the custom of the times, whenever anything 
was administered to a patient, should be said. Pagel 
considers it quite natural that as a believing physician 
he should have realized how much his believing patients 
would be influenced for the better by such a procedure. 
He did not place any supreme faith in its efficacy, but 


knew that it could do no harm, and had probably seen, 
as has many a physician and surgeon of the modem 
time, that such a practice does good, if not by the direct 
interference of Providence, then at least by the calm- 
ness of mind which it superinduces in the patient In 
the same way Mondeville was not averse to his patients 
going on pilgrimages. He did not expect that they would 
all be cured miraculously, but according to Pagel, his 
discussion of this subject is quite modem. Travel and 
change of scene would do good anyhow in many cases, 
expectancy would help the patient's condition, and the 
hope aroused was also good. The best merit, however, 
of this French surgeon is undoubtedly the immense in- 
fluence which he exerted over his great successor, Guy 
de Chauliac. 

We are really only beginning to accumulate knowledge 
with regard to the surgery of the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries. Pagel has devoted three very full 
pages, in his compressed account of surgery, to John 
Yperman, a surgeon of the early fourteenth century of 
whom practically nothing was known until about twenty- 
five years ago, when the Belgian historian Broeck 
brought to light his works and gathered some details of 
his life. He was a pupil of Lanfranc's, and at the end 
of the thirteenth century studied at Paris on a scholar- 
ship provided by his native town of Ypres, which delib- 
erately sent him in order that he might become expert 
in surgery. This may seem a strange thing for a me- 
dieval town to do, at least it may seem so to those who 
have been accustomed to think little of the Middle Ages, 
but it will not to anyone who knows anything about the 
wonderful civic spirit of the Free Towns. In the chapter 
on Science at the Medieval Universities I have quoted 


from Prince Kropotkin's work on Mutual Aid in the Me- 
dieval Towns, and further consultation of that as a ready 
reference, would make all cause for ignorant surprise 
with regard to the culture and the enterprise of medieval 
towns disappear. Ypres, while a town of only fifteen 
thousand inhabitants now, was one of the most impor- 
tant towns of Flanders in the Middle Ages, noted for its 
manufacture of linens and fine laces, and has a hand- 
some cathedral dating from the thirteenth century and 
a town hall, the famous Cloth Hall, from the same pe- 
riod, which is one of the most beautiful architectural 
monuments in Europe and one of the finest municipal 
buildings in the world. 

After his return Yperman settled down in his native 
town and practiced surgery until his death, which prob- 
ably took place about 1330. He obtained a great renown, 
and this has been maintained so that in that part of the 
country even yet, an expert surgeon is spoken of as an 
Yperman. He is the author of two works in Flemish. 
One of these is what Pagel calls an unimportant compi- 
lation on internal medicine, but the headings of the chap- 
ters as he gives them can scarcely fail to attract the 
attention of the modem physician. He treats of dropsy, 
rheumatism, under which occur the terms coryza and 
catarrh, icterus, phthisis (he calls the tuberculous, 
tysiken), apoplexy, epilepsy, frenzy, lethargy, fallen 
palate, cough, shortness of breath, lung abscess, hem- 
orrhage, blood-spitting, liver abscess, hardening of the 
spleen, affections of the kidney, bloody urine, diabetes, 
incontinence of urine, dysuria, strangury, gonorrhoea 
and involuntary seminal emissions— all these terms are 
quoted directly from Pagel. 

All this would seem to show that Yperman was a 


thoroughly representative medical man. When I add that 
Pagel says he shows a well marked striving to free him- 
self from the bondage of authority and that most of his 
therapeutic prescriptions rest upon his own experience, 
it will be seen that he deserves the greatest possible 
credit His work in medicine, however, Pagel considers 
as nothing compared to his work in surgery. A special 
feature of this is the presence of seventy illustrations of 
instruments of the most various kinds, together with a 
plate showing the anatomical features of the stitching 
of a wound of the head. The work as we have it is 
only a fragment. The last part of it which treated of 
the extremities is defective. If anyone thinks for a 
moment that surgery was a neglected specialty at the 
end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the four- 
teenth century, he should consult the text of this, or 
even Pagel's brief account of its contents. Some of the 
features of it are noteworthy. There is a chapter de- 
voted to intoxications, which includes the effects of can- 
tharides as well as alcohol, and treats of the bites of 
snakes, scorpions, and of hydrophobia due to the bites 
of mad hounds. There is scarcely a feature of modem 
surgery of the head that is not touched upon very sen- 
sibly in this work. 

The best proof, however, at once of the flourishing state 
of surgery during the fourteenth century and of the 
utter absurdity of sajring that surgery did not develop 
because of the opposition of the Church or of ecclesias- 
tics, and above all of the Popes, is to be found in the 
life of Guy de Chauliac, who has been deservedly called 
the Father of Modem Surgery and whose contributions 
to surgery occupy a prominent place in every history of 
medicine that one picks up. While the works of other 


great writers in surgery of the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries have as a rule only come to be com- 
monly known during the latter part of the nineteenth 
century, Guy de Chauliac's position and the significance 
of his work and his writings have been a commonplace 
in the history of medicine for as long as it has been 
written seriously. We have already stated in several 
places in this volume his relations to the Popes. He 
was a chamberlain of the Papal Court while it was at 
Avignon, and while he was teaching and developing sur- 
gery at the University of Montpelier he was also body 
physician to three of the Popes, and the intimate friend 
and influential adviser to whom they turned for consul- 
tation in matters relating to medical education and to 
science generally. 

In the present chapter, then, we shall only discuss the 
contributions to surgery of this surgeon of the Popes, 
at a time when, according to President White, because 
of Church opposition, surgery was considered dishonor- 
able ; ''when the greatest monarchs were often unaMe to 
secure an ordinary surgical operation^ and when it re- 
quired an edict of the German Emperor in order that 
dishonor should no longer attach to the surgical profes- 
sion.*' This is what Chauliac accomplished, according to 
Professor Allbutt : 

"Of his substantial advances in surgery no sufficient 
account is possible ; but some chief points, with the aid 
of Haeser, Malgaigne, and Nicaise, I may briefly sum 
up thus : He pointed out the dangers of surgery of the 
neck, among them that of injuring the voice by section 
of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, a precaution he prob- 
ably learned from Paul. He urges a low diet for the 
wounded, as did Mondeville and many others. He uses 


sutures well and discreetly (p. 9), but with far too many 
salves. On fractures of the skull he is at his best ; he 
noted the escape of cerebro-spinal fluid, and the effect 
of pressure on the respiration. It is somewhat strange 
that in days of war the study of chest wounds had 
been rather neglected by Galen, Haly, and Avicenna; 
their practice, however, was to leave them open, lest 
pus should gather about the heart Theodoric and 
Henry ordered chest wounds to be closed ' lest the vital 
spirits escape.' Guy also closed these wounds, unless 
there were any effusion to be removed. In empyema he 
objects to caustics and prefers the knife. For haem- 
orrhages he used sutures— a little too closely perhaps— 
styptics, cautery or ligature. Sinuses he dilated with 
tents of gentian root, or he incised them upon a director. 
On ulcers his large experience is fully manifest He 
describes the carcinomatous kind as hopeless, unless the 
mass can be excised at a very early stage and the inci- 
sion followed by caustics. If in fractures and disloca- 
tions he tells us nothing new, these sections testify to 
a remarkable fulness of knowledge at a period when 
the Hippocratic treatises were unknown. Haeser says 
that in respect of position in fractured femur he was the 
best physician in the Middle Ages.'' 

This is the period, it must not be forgotten, when, ac- 
cording to President White, surgery was in such a state 
that the application of various ordures relieved fractures ; 
the touch of the hangman cured sprains ; the breath of a 
donkey expelled poison ; friction with a dead mxvrCs tooth 
cured a toothache,^ 

1 Quite as corioas notions as these which President White mentions stOI exist in 
popular medicine in our own day. I have myself known a man to blow the dried ex- 
crement of the dofir into the throat of his child suffering from diphtheria, and Kb o*- 
mrMi hm that it ewnd him. In the ooantry districts they still use ordure poultices 


Lest it should be thought that possibly Professor All- 
butt had been rather partial to the great Father of Mod- 
em Surgery in his enthusiasm for these medieval sur- 
geons, it seems worth while to compress here some- 
thing of what Pagel has to say with regard to this great 
man, who represents in himself a full hundred years of 
progress in surgery. He wrote an inunense text-book 
of surgery, from which his teaching maybe learned with 
absolute authenticity. The great significance attached 
to Guy's writings by his contemporaries and successors 
will be readily appreciated from the immense number of 
manuscript copies, original editions in print, and the 
many translations which are extant This monument 
of scientific surgery has for dedication a sentence that 
would alone and of itself obliterate all the nonsense that 
has been talked about Papal opposition to the develop- 
ment of surgery. It runs as follows :— 

(I dedicate this work) *'To you my masters, physi- 
cians of Montpelier, Bologna, Paris, and Avignon, es- 
pecially you of the Papal Court with whom I have been 
associated in the service of the Roman Pontiffs. The 
exact words as given by Pagel are ** Vobis dominis meis 
medicis Montispessulani, Bononiae, Parisiis atque Avini- 
onis, praecipue papalibus, quibus me in servitio Roma- 
norum pontificum associavi.'' 

Pagel has three closely printed pages in small type of 
titles alone of subjects which Chauliac treated with dis- 

f or sprains of various kinds, and I have known doctors prescribe them. I have seen an 
intelligent woman smokins: dried ansrlewonns in a pipe for toothache. I sincerely 
hope, however, that no serious (I) historian of the twraity-fifth century will gather up 
side remarks like the present with regard to such curious customs— real superstitions 
that have nothing: to do with religion, as most supersititions have not— and state them 
as showinsT the icrnorance of our ireneration, and above all as indicatinar the low state 
of medicine in our time. 


tinction. His description of instruments and methods of 
operation is especially full and suggestive. He knew 
how to prescribe manipulations and set forth the princi- 
ples on which they were founded. Scarcely anything 
was added to his method of taxis for hernia for five cen- 
turies after his time. He describes the passage of a 
catheter with the accuracy and complete technic of a 
man who knew all thef difficulties of it in complicated 
conditions. He recognizes the dangers that arise for 
the surgeon from the presence of anatomical anomalies 
of various kinds, and describes certain of the more im- 
portant of them. He did not hesitate to suggest some 
very serious operations. For instance, for empyema he 
advises opening of the chest He has very exact indi- 
cations for trephining. He recognizes the absolute fa- 
tality of wounds of the abdomen, in which the intestines 
were opened, if they were left untreated, and describes 
a method of suturing wounds of the intestines in order 
to save the patient's life. In a word, there is nothing 
that has been attempted in these modem times, with our 
aseptic precautions and the advantage of anaesthesia, 
which this father of surgery did not discuss very practi- 
cally and with excellent common sense as well as surgi- 
cal acumen. 

Chauliac's career is interesting because it is that of a 
self-made man of the Middle Ages, which brings out the 
fact that men do not differ so much as might be thought 
at this distance of time, and shows that there were 
chances for a man to rise by his own genius from a lowly 
to a lofty position at this time of the Middle Ages, when 
it is usually supposed that men were excluded from such 
opportunities. Allbutt says of him : 

" Still, Guy of Chauliac, who flourished in the second 


half of the fourteenth century, was enabled to feed his 
virile and inquisitive spirit on rich sources of learning. 
While he succeeded to the stores of Arnold (of Villanova) 
and Gordon with his just and cautious reason and wealth 
of experience, he cast out of them much of the sorcery, 
jugglery, astrology and mysticism which were their 
reproach. Chauliac is a village in the Auvergne, and 
Guy was but a farmer's lad. It was by the aid of pow- 
erful friends that he studied at Toulouse and Montpelier, 
took orders and the degree of Master of Medicine; in his 
time there was no degree of Doctor of Medicine in 
France. Then he studied anatomy at Bologna under 
Bertruccio, the successor of Mondino, a study which, 
with Henry (de Mondeville) he regarded as the founda- 
tion of surgery. The surgeon ignorant of anatomy, he 
says, "carves the human body as a blind man carves 

" Thence he paid a brief visit to Paris, where for a mo- 
ment, by the renown of Lanfranc, Jean Pitard, and 
Henry of Mondeville, surgery was in the ascendant For 
the moment the Church and the faculty had not suc- 
ceeded in paralyzing the scientific arm of medicine. ^ 

^ This is a very striking reflection on the necessity for the study of anatomy for 
the practice of surgrery to have been made within a half century after the supposed 
prohibition of dissection by the Popes, and at a time when, according to President 
White, "even such serious matters as fractures, calculi and difficult parturition, in 
which modern science has achieved some of its greatest triumphs, were dealt with br 
relics, " and when "there were religious scruples against dissection," and sunrery 
"was denounced by the Church," and when "pastoral medicine had checked all 
scientific effort in medical science." And the reflection was made by a chamberiain 
of the Papal household. 

2 It is worthy of remark, how even Prof. Allbutt, in a passasre like this, where he is 
providinjT abundant material for the contradiction of the En8:Iish Protestant tradition 
of the supposed opposition of the Church to science, and especially to surgery, yet 
cannot break away from the influence of that tradition entirely. It has been bred in 
him, and even while showinsr its falsity he is not entirely convinced himself, becau^o 


Guy began practice in Lyons, whence he was called to 
Avignon by Clement VI. as *venerabilis et circumspec- 
tus vir, dominus Guido de Cauliaco, canonicus et praepo- 
situs ecclesiae Sancti Justi Lugduni, medicusque domini 
nostri Papae.' In Avignon he stayed, while other phy- 
sicians fled, to minister to the victims of the plague (A. D. , 
1348), and he may have attended Laura in spite of Pe- 
trarch's tirades against all physicians and even against 
Guy himself. His description of this epidemic is terri- 
ble in its naked simplicity. He did not, indeed, himself 
escape, for he had an attack with bubo, and was ill for 
six weeks. He gave succor also in a later epidemic in 
Avignon, in 1360. His ' Chirurgia Magna ' or Inventa- 
rium seu CoUectorium Artis Chimrgicalis Medicinae— so 
called in distinction to the meagre little handbooks or 
Chirurgiae Parvae compiled from the larger treatises- 
was in preparation in 1363. This great work I have 
studied carefully, and not without prejudice ; and yet I 
cannot wonder that Fallopius compared the author to 
Hippocrates, or that John Freind calls him the Prince of 
Surgeons. It is rich, aphoristic, orderly and precise. 
As a clerk he wrote in Latin, in the awkward hybrid 
tongue that medical Latin then was, containing many 
Arabian, Provencal and French words, but very little 

We have seen that there was great surgery in Italy, 
in France, and in the Netherlands, but it had also crossed 
the channel into England. 

There was a famous English surgeon during the f our- 

th« old mode of view has so firm a hold on him that he is not open to conviction. A 
little later in this same pasMaflre he speaks of taking: up the study of Chauliac pre- 
hidieed affainst him, and bein? convinced of his srreatness asrainst his will. Verily 
history has been a conspiracy agrainst the truth, in which many people have joined 
t unconsciously, led «atray by feeling, not intellect. 


teenth century by the name of John Ardem. He was 
educated at Montpelier and practiced surgery for a time 
in France. About the middle of the century, however, 
according to Pagel, he went back to his native land and 
settled for some twenty years at Newark, in Notting- 
hamshire, and then for nearly thirty years longer, until 
nearly the end of the century, was in London. He is 
the chief representative of English surgery during the 
Middle Ages. His Practice, as yet unprinted, contains, 
according to Pagel, a short sketch of internal medicine, 
but is mainly devoted to surgery. Contrary to the usual 
impression with regard to works in medicine and surgery 
at this time, the book abounds in references to case his- 
tories which Ardem had gathered, partly from his own 
and partly from others' experience. The therapeutic 
measures that he suggests are usually very simple, in 
the majority of cases quite rational, though, of course, 
there are many superstitions ampng them ; but Ardem 
always furnished a number of suggestions from which 
to choose. He must have been an expert operator, and 
had excellent success in the treatment of diseases of the 
rectum. He seems to have been the first operator who 
made statistics of his cases, and was quite as proud as 
any modem surgeon, of the large numbers that he had 
operated on, which he gives very exactly. He was the 
inventor of a new clyster apparatus. 

Daremberg, the medical historian, who saw a copy of 
Ardem's manuscript in St. John's College, Oxford, says 
that it contains numerous illustrations of instruments 
and operations. His work seems really to be a series of 
monographs or collection of special articles on different 
subjects, which Ardem had made at various times, 
rather than a connected work. Pagel bewails the fact 


that a more thorough consideration of Ardem's work is 
impossible, because the greater part of what he wrote 
remains as yet imprinted. 

In general, when we consider how difficult was the 
task of making copies of works on surgery by hand, and 
especially such as contain numerous illustrations, the 
wonder grows that we should have so much about the 
surgery of these centuries rather than so little. Some of 
these works have been preserved for us by the merest 
chance. There have been many centuries since their 
time, when what these surgeons wrote would have been 
thought of very little value because physicians were not 
educated up to them. In spite of this liability to loss, 
which must have caused the destruction of many valu- 
able works, we still have enough to show us what won- 
derful men were these surgeons of the thirteenth and 
fourteenth centuries, who anticipated our best thinking 
of the modem times in many of the most difficult 
problems. It is only during the last twenty-five years 
that anything like justice has been done them. The only 
way to know what these men did and taught is to read 
their own works, and these have been buried in manu- 
script or hidden away in large folio volumes, printed very 
eai"ly in the history of printing, and considered so valu- 
able that consultation of them was almost resented by 
librarians. Anyone who talks about the lack of surgery 
in Europe during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries 
is supremely ignorant of the real course of history at 
this time, and when in addition he attributes the failure 
of surgery to develop to a trumped-up opposition of the 
Church or ecclesiastics, he is simply making a ridiculous 
exhibition of intolerance and of foolish readiness to 
accept anything, however groimdless, that may en- 


able him to make out a case against the ecclesiastical 

It is curious to reflect that in spite of all this wonder- 
ful progress in surgery, somehow there has crept in the 
tradition which has been very generally accepted by his- 
torians not acquainted with the details of medical his- 
tory, that surgery was neglected during the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries. The existence of this tradition, 
and its acceptance by men who had no idea that they 
were being influenced by that peculiar state of mind 
which considers that nothing good can come out of the 
Nazareth of the times before the reformation so-called, 
is of itself a warning with regard to the way history has 
been written, especially for the Teutonic and English- 
speaking peoples, that should carry weight in other de- 
partments of history beside medicine and surgery. 

Even Pagel could not get entirely away from the old 
tradition which has existed for so long, that the Church, 
if she did not oppose, at least hampered the progress of 
surgery. While his first paragraph shows that he 
recognized the important advances that were made in 
the Middle Ages, he cannot rid himself of the prejudice 
that has existed so long and has tinged so much of the 
historical writing of the last four centuries. He fur- 
nishes an abundance of material himself to disprove the 
old opinion, and evidently has been influenced by this 
evidence, but cannot give up notions that have been part 
and parcel of his education from his earliest days in 
Protestant Germany. He says :— 

** A set-back must also be recognized to some extent 
in surgery, especially attributable to the fact that as 
a consequence of the pressure of the Church upon 
scientific medicine, the representatives of medical 


science felt themselves bound to neglect the practical 
art of surgical operation. Church regulations forbade 
the shedding of blood to churchmen, and not a few phy- 
sicians were more than inclined to accept this prohibi- 
tion as in accordance with their own feelings. For this 
reason the practice of surgery was left for the most part 
to the lower orders of those engaged in healing. This 
went to such an extent, that physicians even came to 
look upon surgery as an unworthy occupation. Even 
venesection, which was so commonly employed and which 
came to be indispensable to the practice of internal 
medicine, made it necessary to call for the services of a 
barber-surgeon. ' ' 

As we shall see, there were many other and much 
more important factors at work in the degradation of 
surgery than the supposed repression of the Church. 
The time to which Pagel refers is in the earlier centuries 
of the Middle Ages, and not the later ones ; yet it is 
from these later centuries that the supposed prohibitory 
decrees are all quoted. The contempt for surgery was 
due rather to the general lack of culture before the 
foimdation of the universities than to any ecclesiastical 
repression. Just as soon as the great medical schools 
were opened— and that at Salerno came into existence in 
the early part of the tenth century if not earlier— sur- 
gery began to be in honor. Pagel himself confesses this 
in the very next paragraph of this brief conspectus of 
surgery, and shows how generally was the uplift of 
surgery made possible by university education, though 
there still remained many drawbacks to progress because 
of the jealousy of physicians. 

"Gradually, however, a beneficial transformation of 
customs in this matter began to be manifest. Physicians 


who were scientifically trained began to take up surgery 
with enthusiasm, and from that time (end of twelfth 
century) dates the visible uplift of this specialty. 
Eventually the most noteworthy literary events and re- 
mains of the representatives of the great schools of the 
Middle Ages— Salerno, Bologna, Paris and Montpelier- 
concem quite as much the department of surgery as of 
practical medicine. These medieval literary contributions 
constitute the principal steps in the historical develop- 
ment of scientific surgery. The Crusades represent an 
extremely important influence upon the perfecting of 
the surgery of wounds. Italian surgeons in large num- 
bers took prominent parts therein. They took the abun- 
dant opportunities afforded them to gather experience, 
which they used to great advantage in their practice and 
in their teaching after their return home. From Roger, 
the first and most important of the representatives of 
the Salemitan school (whose life occupies the end of the 
twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century), 
and down to Guy de Chauliac (who died toward the end 
of the fourteenth century) , in a space therefore of not 
quite two hundred years, a complete breach with the 
blood-fearing traditions of the Arabs was made. In no 
European land does one fail to find evidence of intense 
as well as successful scientific occupation with surgery." 
As a reflection that throws a brilliant light on the true 
conditions that brought about the diminished estimation 
in which surgery came to be held, Guy de Chauliac has 
an interesting passage in which he suggests an explana- 
tion for it, which is surely much nearer the truth than 
any modem explanation is likely to be. He says that, 
after the time of the Arabs, who were all both physicians 
and surgeons, either because of the lack of interest of 


physicians or their laziness, for the practice of surgery 
is a difficult matter, or because they came to be too 
much occupied with the ills which they might hope to 
cure by medicines alone, surgery became separated from 
medicine and passed down into the hands of mere 
mechanics. This is a complaint not infrequently heard 
even at the present day, that medicine and surgery are 
drawing too much apart for the good of either specialty. 
Both the Regius Professors of medicine in England have 
recently insisted that physicians must of tener be present 
at operations if they would really appreciate the value 
of diagnosis, while there has been for many years a 
feeling that surgery would be benefitted if surgeons did 
not always wish to have recourse to the knife, but ap- 
preciated how much good might be accomplished by other 
remedial measures. The great French Father of Surgery, 
then, was only expressing what was to be a perennial 
complaint in the domain of medicine and surgery when 
he explained the separation of the two departments of 
healing. He has nothing whatever to say of the evil 
influence upon surgery of any Church regulations, though 
he must have been in a position to realize their signifi- 
cance very well in this respect if they actually had any. 
He was himself, as we have said, a member of the Papal 
household ; he was even a cleric, and seems to have en- 
countered no difficulty at all not only in devoting himself 
to surgery, but even in lifting up that department of 
medicine from the slough of neglect into which it had 
fallen because of the lack of initiative of preceding 
generations in his native land. 

It may be wondered, then, how the tradition of oppo- 
sition to surgery, which is so common in history, had its 
origin. Nearly always for these exaggerated stories 


there is some basis of truth. For instance, with regard 
to the opposition to Vesalius, the origin of the stories 
of persecution by the Church and ecclesiastical authori- 
ties is evidently the fact that he was very much opposed 
by the old-time physicians and surgeons, who believed 
in Galen and thought it worse than heresy to break with 
him. It is the opposition of scientists, or pseudo-scien- 
tists, to scientific progress that constitutes the real bar 
to advance, and has over and over again been attributed 
to religious motives, when it is really due to that very 
human overconservatism, which so constantly places 
men in the position of opponents to novelties of any kind, 
no matter how much of value they may eventually prove 
to have. There has always existed a certain prejudice 
against surgery on the part of physicians— meaning by 
that term, for the moment, those who devote themselves 
to internal medicine. This feeling has never quite died 
out. There were times in the Middle Ages when it was 
very marked. Not a little of the feeling is due to pro- 
fessional jealousy, and that, it is to be feared, like the 
poor, we shall have always with us. 

Professor Allbutt has in the address at St Louis, al- 
ready quoted from, a very interesting passage with re- 
gard to the College of St Come at Paris, in which this 
jealousy between physicians and surgeons is very well 
brought out I quote it here in order to illustrate once 
more that opposition of scientists to scientific advance, 
for personal reasons, which has always existed, is still 
one of the features of the history of science, and will 
probably always continue to be a noteworthy phase of 
scientific progress. It will serve at the same time to 
furnish to those who cannot think that these stories with 
regard to the hampering of surgical development are en- 


tirely without foundation, some basis for them that will 
account for their universality, but will only render clear- 
er the intolerance of those who have constantly perverted 
the meaning of this opposition to persecution on the part 
of Chxirch authorities. Ecclesiastics not only had noth- 
ing to do with this, but more often than not were the 
active factors in such amelioration of the conditions it 
brought about as very much to lessen its effects. 

AUbutt's story of the College of Surgeons of St Come 
at Paris is, as we have said, interesting from this stand- 
point '* Some of my readers may wonder how it is that 
in discoursing of medieval surgery I have not dwelt upon 
the Surgical College of St Come of Paris. Well, St. 
C6me did no great things for surgery. The truth is that, 
infected with the exclusiveness and dialectical conceits 
of all the schools of Paris, St Come was almost ready 
to sacrifice surgery itself if thereby it might choke off its 
parasites, the barbers. Lest they should be suspected 
of mixing their philosophy with facts, its members went 
about with their hands ostentatiously tied behind them. 
If perhaps Malgaigne speaks too contemptuously of St. 
Come, it must be admitted that the college was in a false 
position throughout In aping the Faculty of Medicine, 
it lost the touch of mother earth without gaining any 
harbourage in the deep waters of the proud. Nay, such 
is the Nemesis of pride, the barbers came to command 
the position. It did not suit the Faculty to see the bar- 
bers weakened ; for in their weakness lay the strength 
of the surgeons of St C6me, who sought incessantly to 
appear as lettered clerks, to attach their college to the 
university, and even to claim a place beside the Faculty 
itself. To bring St. C6me to its knees, and to check the 
presumptuous claims of this corporation on the privi- 


leges of the Faculty of Medicine, on a liberal education 
in arts and medicine, on a place in the university, on the 
suppression of unqualified surgical practice, and less, 
honourably, on relief from handicraft and urgent calls, 
the Faculty had to coquette with the barbers. Medicine, 
proclaimed the Faculty when it suited its purpose, con- 
tains the theoretical and the practical side of surgery ; 
a surgeon is therefore but the servant of a physician. If 
St Come sought to provide lectures in surgery, the Fac- 
ulty, which kept possession of teaching licenses and de- 
sired in the surgeon a docile assistant, took the teaching 
from the college and invited the barbers to lectures of its 
own. In their duplicity and conceit of caste, physicians 
of the Faculty condescended even to publish books on 
surgery, books as arid and as insincere as their lectures. 
On the other hand, in the person of the King's Barber, 
the barbers had a secret and potent influence at Court 
The Faculty persisted in denying to St. Come all * eso- 
teric ' teaching, all diagnosis, and all use of medical thera- 
peutics. Aristotle was pronounced to be unfavorable to 
the * vulgarizing of science. ' Joubert was attacked for 
editing Guy, but replied with dignity (in the notes of his 
edition). While the Faculty thus tried to prevent the 
access to letters of a presumptuous body of artisans, St 
Come in mimic arrogance disdained the barbers, sought 
to deny them the name of surgeon, and was jealous of 
the diffusion of technical knowledge among them in the 
vernacular tongue."^ 

1 As showinflT how professional jealously may exist in such ways in the modem times 
as to hinder prosrress, the followinsr paragraph, which is the openins: portion of Pn>> 
feasor Allbutt's address, has seemed to me to deserve quotation here. It will illustrate 
a phase of the subject that is probably utterly unexpected by those unfamiliar with 
the inner history of medicine in our time, but which is not so surprisinar to physicians 
who know the jealousy with which men sruard their specialties from what they ooo- 


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. Sur- 
gery 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 his- 
tory of surgery that the world has ever known. What- 
ever of difficulty in development surgery encountered was 
due not to any Church opposition, but to unfortunate 
conditions that arose in the practice of medicine. Pro- 
fessional jealousy and shortsightedness was the main 
element in it Even this, however, did not prevent the 
very wonderful development of surgery that came dur- 

aider the interference of others, in hospital work and in teachinsr, thousrh this exdu- 
siveness often proves detrimental both to the breadth of development of the student 
and to the good health of the patient. 

" It was. I think, in the year 1864. when I was a novice on the Honorary Staff of the 
Leeds General Infirmary, that the unsarfrical division of us was summoned in great 
solemnity to discuss a method of administration of dniRS by means of a needle. This 
method having obtained some voffue, it behooved those who practiced ' pure ' medicine 
to decide whether the operation were consistent with the traditions of purity. For 
my part. I answered that .the method had come up early, if not ori^rinally, in St. 
Georare's Hospital, and in the hands of a house physician— Dr. C. Himter ; that I had 
accustomed myself already to the practice and proposed to continue it; moreover, 
that I had recently come from the classes of Professor Trousseau, who, when his cases 
demanded such treatment, did not hesitate himself to perform paracentesis of the 
pleura, or even incision of this sac or of the pericardium. As, for lack not of will 
but of skill and nerve, I did not intend myself to perform even minor operations, my 
heresy, as one in thought only, was indulgently ignored, and we were set free to ma- 
nipulate the drag needle if we felt disposed to this humble service." 


ing 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 univer- 
sities came into existence in the form which they have 
maintained ever since. 


Most of what historical writers generally, who follow 
the old traditions of the medieval eclipse of medicine, 
have to say with regard to the supposed Papal opposition 
to the development of medical science, is founded on the 
assumption that men who believed in miracles and in the 
efficacy of prayer for the relief of disease could not pos- 
sibly be interested to any serious degree in scientific 
medicine. As Dr. White says, ** out of all these inquir- 
ies came inevitably that question whose logical answer 
was especially injurious to the development of medical 
science: why should men seek to build up scientific 
medicine and surgery, when relics, pilgrimages, and 
sacred observances, according to an overwhelming mass 
of concurrent testimony, have cured and are curing hosts 
of sick folk in all parts of Europe/' He goes even 
farther than this, however, when he suggests that **it 
would be expecting too much from human nature to 
imagine that Pontiffs who derived large revenues from 
the sale of the Agnus Dei, or priests who derived both 
wealth and honors from cures wrought at shrines under 
their care, or lay dignitaries who had invested heavily in 
relics, should favor the development of any science 
which undermined their interests." 

On the strength of assumptions such as these, that 
''medieval belief in miracles of healing must have 
checked medical science," and that therefore it did 
actually prevent the development of scientific medicine, 
statements are made with regard to the history of medi- 



cine that are utterly at variance with the plain facts of 
history. Once more, as in the case of the supposed 
failure of surgery to develop during the Middle Ages, it 
is a deduction that has been made from certain supposed 
principles, and not an induction from the actual facts as 
we know them. Such historians would be the first to 
emphasize the narrowness of the schoolmen for their 
supposed dependence on deduction, but what they have 
to say on medical history is entirely deductive, and im- 
fortunately from premises that will not stand in the 
presence of the story of the wonderful rise and develop- 
ment of medical science and medical education, mainly 
under the patronage of ecclesiastics, in the Middle Ages, 

The argument may be stated formally with perfect 
fairness as follows : When men believe in miracles they 
cannot build up scientific medicine and surgery; but men 
believed in miracles in the Middle Ages, therefore they 
did not build up scientific medicine and surgery. When 
stated thus baldly in formal scholastic form, the argu- 
ment loses most of the glamor that has been thrown 
around it. This is one of the advantages of the old 
scholastic method— it strips argument to its naked signif- 
icance. Logic asserts herself and rhetoric loses its 

With regard to the major premise that when men be- 
lieve in miracles they will not successfully pursue in- 
vestigations in the medical science, there are two an- 
swers. One of these concerns the actual attitude of 
mind towards scientific medicine of men who believe in 
miracles, for we have such men still with us, and have 
always had them all during the past seven centuries. 
The other portion of the answer concerns what men who 
were distinguished scientific investigators thought of 


miracles, and how much they accomplished for the medi- 
cal sciences while all the time maintaining their belief 
in the possibility of miraculous intervention for the 
cure of disease. 

Apparently the writers who insist on the incompati- 
bility of the belief in miracles with devotion to scien- 
tific medicine do not realize that the greater number of 
thinking physicians during the last seven centuries, and 
quite down to our own day, have been ready to confess 
their belief in the possibility of miraculous healing, yet 
have tried to do everjrthing in their power to relieve suf- 
fering and cure human ills by the natural means at their 
command. Their attitude has been very much that at- 
tributed to Ignatius of Loyola, who said to the members 
of his order : ** Do everything that you can with the idea 
that everything depends on you, and then hope for re- 
sults just as if everjrthing depended on God." There is 
no lack of logic in this ; and the physician of the present 
day who realizes his impotency in the presence of so 
many of the serious ailments of mankind is not a scoffer 
at the attitude of mind that looks for help from prayer ; 
but if he is sensible, welcomes the placidity of mind this 
will give his patient, even if he does not, as many actu- 
ally do, however, believe in the possible interposition of 
supernatural forces. 

If Prof. White knew anything about the lives of the 
men whose names are most distinguished in the history 
of medicine during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fif- 
teenth centuries, we would have heard nothing of his 
almost incomprehensible negation of the existence of 
scientific medicine, during centuries when so many men 
who have stamped their names indelibly on the history 
of the medical sciences were doing their work and writ- 


ing. If he had taken any pains to learn even a few de- 
tails of the personal relations of these old-time makers 
of medicine to the Popes, we would have heard none of 
this utter absurdity of Papal opposition to medicine or 
ecclesiastical hampering of medical science. To answer 
Prof. White's argument, that "it would be expecting 
too much from human nature to imagine that Pontiffs 
should favor the development of any science which un- 
dermined their interests,*' the simple story of the men 
the Popes choose as their own medical advisers, and 
who because of the prestige of their appointment as 
Papal Physicians helped to raise up in the eyes of the 
people the dignity of the medical profession which they 
represented, will be quite enough. It will also serve to 
show how different is history founded on an assumption 
from history founded on actual facts. 

The best, most easily obtainable, and most impressive 
data for the inductive method of reaching the truth as 
regards the relation of the Popes to medical science and 
(because of the fact that physicians were the scientists 
par excellence of the Middle Ages) to all science, will 
be found in a brief consideration of the lives of the men 
who occupied the position of Papal Physician during 
the last seven centuries. I do not think that this group 
of men has ever been treated together before ; at least 
I have been unable to find any work on the subject. 
While I am able to present a considerable amount of in- 
teresting material in brief form with regard to them, I 
am sure that there are many of them whom I have 
omitted. Practically up to the day of going to press I 
have been finding new references that led to further 
precious information with regard to this most wonderful 
group of men in medical history. It will be well under- 


stood, then, that impressive as the consideration of the 
work and character of the men whose names I have 
found must be, this does not represent all the truth in 
the matter, but can be supplemented without much diffi- 
culty from other sources. 

If the Popes had been interested only in the miraculous 
healing of disease, and had wished to teach the lesson 
that men should depend solely for their recovery from 
serious symptoms and ailments of all kinds on prayers 
and relics and pilgrimages, then they would either have 
had no physicians at all in regular attendance on them, 
or at least their physicians would not have been selected 
from among the men who were doing most to advance 
the cause of practical and scientific medicine and of 
medical education. The very opposite of this is the case. 
The Papal physicians were as a rule the most scientific 
medical men of their time. This is not a pious exaggera- 
tion, but is literally true for seven centuries of history, 
as we shall see presently. The wonder of it is that there 
were not some charlatans among them. The physicians 
whom educated people select are not, as physicians well 
know, always worthy examples of progressive medical 
men. Literary folk particularly seem to have a distinct ten- 
dency to want to be different from other people, and 
their physicians are often the veriest theorizers. A 
medical friend who occasionally quotes, but perverts the 
old line, * ' the people people have for friends areof ten very 
queer,*' says, half in jest of course, but alas ! more than 
half in earnest, that "the people literary folk and the 
clergy have for doctors are the queerest ducks (docs. ) 
of all.*' 

It is only too true that clergjrmen are especially prone 
to be erratic in the choice of their medical advisers and 


lacking in a critical judgment as to the remedies and 
methods of treatment of which they become the willing 
recipients, and occasionally even the sponsors as regards 
other people, who look up to their judgment for other 
reasons with confidence. Prof. Osier once said that the 
nearer to the Council of Trent the clergyman, the nearer 
he was likely to be to truth and common sense in medi- 
cal matters ; but then perhaps all would not agree with 
him. It IS all the more surprising imder the circum- 
stances, and very greatly to their credit, that the Popes 
should have had as their physicians a list of men whose 
names are the brightest on the roll of great contributors 
to medical literature and some of the most distinguished 
among the great discoverers in medical science. 

This fact alone constitutes the most absolute contradic- 
tion of the declarations as to supposed Church opposition 
to medicine that could possibly be ^ven. No better 
means of encouraging, fostering, and patronizing medical 
science could be thought of than to givethe prestige and 
the emoluments of physician to the head of the Church 
to important makers of medicine in every generation. 
The physicians to the rulers of Europe have not always 
been selected with as good judgment, and, as I have al- 
ready said, there is no list of physicians to any European 
Court, nor indeed any list of names of medical men con- 
nected together by any bond in history— no list, for in- 
stance, of any medical faculty of a university— which 
can be compared for prestige in scientific medicine with 
the Papal Physicians. 

Before the beginning of the thirteenth century very 
little is known of the medical attendants of the Popes. 
We point out in the following chapter that the Papacy 
was closely in touch with the medical school at Salemum. 



seems not unlikely, and indeed there are some tradi- 
)ns to that effect, that in cases of severe illnesses of 
e Popes, important members of the medical faculty 
Bre sometimes summoned from the South of Italy to 
)me. The relations of the Popes to the neighboring 
►bey of Monte Cassino might, as we have said, suggest 
is. We have, however, very few details in this 
atter. With the beginning of the great thirteenth 
ntuiy, however, the records of human achievement in 
ery line are better kept, and at once we begin to know 
mething definite about Papal Physicians. The first 
e of decided prominence was Guy or Guido of Mont- 
lier, who was summoned to Rome by Pope Innocent 
[. in order that he might re-establish the hospital of 
e Santo Spirito at Rome, in accordance with what were 
nsidered to be the latest ideas in the matter of hospital 
ilding and the enlightened care of the sick. How well 

accomplished this work, and how well he deserves to 
ad the glorious roll of Papal Physicians, will be seen 
the chapter on The Popes and City Hospitals. 
The next of the Papal Physicians of whom much is 
own in the history of medicine was Richard the Eng- 
hman, usually spoken of as Ricardus Anglicus. He 
is the physician to the famous Pope Gregory IX. 
237-1241). Richard, who was bom in England not 
ig before the beginning of the thirteenth century, died 
3rtly after the middle of that century. For a time he 
IS at Paris, and accordingly is sometimes spoken of as 
tardus Parisiensis. According to Gabriel Naud6 he 
IS at Paris after the death of his patient, Gregory IX., 
d towards the end of his life retired to the Abbey of St. 
ctor, to spend his last days in recollection and prayer, 
this he anticipated another great English physician 


with a European reputation— Linacre— who, three cen- 
turies later, after having been the royal physician tot 
many years to King Henry VIII. , became a clergyman. 
It is interesting to realize that, early in history as Rich, 
ard's life occurs, some works attributed to him contain 
definite information with regard to anatomy. Most of 
this, it is true, is taken from Hippocrates, Galen, and the 
Arabs, but some of it seems to be the result of his own 
personal experience, on the living, if not on the dead 

After Richard, the next of the physicians to the Popes 
who has an important place in the history of medicine is 
the famous Thaddeus Alderotti, who lived for more than 
eighty years during the thirteenth century. He has the 
added interest for this generation of having been a self- 
made man, for he was the son of very poor parents of 
the lowest rank. Up to his thirtieth year he remained 
without any special education. He made his living, it is 
said, by selling candles. Having acquired a little com- 
petency, at the age of thirty he began with great zeal 
the study of philosophy and of medicine, two sciences 
which in the old days were supposed to go very well to- 
gether, though, unfortunately, they are often rigidly 
separated from each other in later times. Fifteen years 
after he began the study of medicine we hear of him as 
a medical teacher, and then ten years later he began to 
be famous as a writer on all sorts of medical topics. 
He became the physician of Pope Honorius IV., himself 
one of the most liberal and broadly educated of men, 
and as the result of the confidence awakened by his oc- 
cupancy of this honorable position, he secured an im- 
mense success in practice and made an enormous for- 
tune. Alderotti's work represents what is best in medi- 
cine for the whole of the thirteenth century. 


A curiously interesting episode that deserves a place in 
the history of Papal Physicians occurred during Alderot- 
ti's life. One of the Popes elected to fill the Papal chair had 
been earlier in life a physician. This was the famous Peter 
of Spain, though he was really a Portuguese, who, under 
the name of John XXL, occupied the Papal throne dur- 
ing the years 1276-1277. Peter of Spain had been one 
of the most distinguished natural scientists of this inter- 
esting century. Dr. J. B. Petella, in an article published 
in Janus about ten years ago, entitled A Critical and His- 
torical Study of the Knowledge of Ophthalmology of a 
Philosopher Physician who became Pope, gives an excel- 
lent account of the life of Pope John XXI.^ 

Petella does not hesitate to say of him that he was 
*'on.e of the most renowned personages of Europe dur- 
ing the thirteenth century, from the point of view of the 
triple evolution of his extraordinary mind, which caused 
him to make his mark in the physical sciences, in the met- 
aphysical sciences, and in the religious world. In him 
there was an incarnation of the savant of the time, and 
he must be considered the most perfect encyclopedist of 
the Middle Ages in their first renascence." 

Anyone who reads Dr. Petella's account of this book 
by Pope John XXI. will be surprised at how much was 
known about diseases of the eye at the middle of the 
thirteenth century. For instance, hardening of the eye 
is spoken of as a very serious affection, so that there 
seems to be no doubt that the condition now known as 
glaucoma was recognized and its bad prognosis appreci- 
ated. His account of the external anatomy of the eye, 
eight coats of which he describes, beginning with the 

1 Janus, ArchWeB International es pour rhistoire de la Medicine et pour la Geoffra- 
phie Medicale* paraiaBant tous lea deux mois. Amsterdam. 1887-1886. 


conjunctiva and ending with the retina, is quite complete. 
The eye is said to have eight muscles, the levator of 
the upper eyelid and the sphincter muscle of the eye be- 
ing counted among them. The other muscles are pictur- 
esquely described as reins, that is, guiding ribbons for 
the eye. Cataract is described as water descending 
into the eye, and two forms of it are distinguished— one 
traumatic, due to external causes, and the other due to 
internal causes. Lachrimal fistula is described and its 
causes discussed. Various forms of blepharitis are 
touched upon. Many suggestions are made for the treat- 
ment of trichiasis. That a man who was as distinguished 
in medicine as Peter of Spain should have been elected 
Pope, is the best possible proof that there was no oppo- 
sition between science and religion during the thirteenth 

But to return to the Papal Physicians in our original 
meaning of the term. Alderotti's successor as physician 
to the Papal Court was scarcely, if any, less distinguish- 
ed. This was Simon Januensis, the medical attendant 
to Pope Nicholas IV., whose pontificate lasted from 
1288-1292. Simon did much to make the use of opium 
more scientific than it had been, and he established defi- 
nite rules for its administration. Before this the ano- 
dyne effects of the drug had been well known, but the 
difficulty had been to regulate its dosage properly and 
prevent the use of too large quantities, while at the same 
time securing the administration of sufficient of the drug 
to relieve pain. At the beginning there was much pre- 
judice with regard to opium. Indeed, as every physi- 
cian knows, this prejudice has not entirely died out even 
in our own day. How much of good, then, Simon was 
able to accomplish because the prestige of his position as 


Papal Physician helped to break down this prejudice, and 
how much human suffering he saved as a consequence, 
it is easy to understand. 

Simon is best known in the history of medical science 
as the author of what was probably the first important 
dictionary of medicine. This was called the Synonyma 
MedicinaB or Clavis Sanationis, the Key of Health. Stein- 
schneider has declared this book to be one of the most 
important works in the field of Synonymies. Julius Pa- 
gel, in his chapter on Therapeutics in the Middle Ages, 
in Puschmann's Handbook of the History of Medicine, 
already quoted, says that this Papal Physician succeed- 
ed in solving very happily the problem which he set him- 
self, of gathering together the information that had been 
collected during past centuries with regard to medical 
words, and especially those relating to the use of various 
remedial measures. The industry of the writer may be 
very well appreciated from the fact that his glossary 
contains some six thousand articles. Its place in the his- 
tory of science, as given by Meyer, the German historian 
of botany, is that for the understanding of the older 
words in natural science, no better aid than this can be 
found. He considers it the best work of its kind until 
Caspar Bauhin's similar volume came to replace it, but 
that was not until well on in the seventeenth century. 
Simon was greatly encouraged in this work by Popes 
Nicholas IV. and Boniface VIII., to both of whom he was 
body physician and at the same time an intimate friend. 

The custom of having for medical attendant one of the 
leading physicians of the day, if not actually the most 
prominent medical scientist of the time, which had ob- 
tained Tat Rome during the thirteenth century, was 
maintained at Avignon during the three-quarters of a 


century in which the Papal See had its seat there. Just 
who the regular medical attendant of Clement V., the 
first of the Avignon Popes, was is not very sure. When 
he became seriously ill toward the end of his life, how- 
ever, Arnold of Villanova, one of the professors of 
physic at Paris and probably the most distinguished 
living physician of the time, was sunmioned in consulta- 
tion, and began his journey down to Avignon. This 
sunmions attracted widespread attention, which was still 
further emphasized by the fact that Arnold of Villanova 
died on the journey. It is not difficult to appreciate even 
at this distance of time how much weight the summon- 
ing of a physician from a long distance to attend His 
Holiness would have on the minds of the people, and 
how much it would tend to call their attention to the 
important medical school from which the great man 
came. People generally, who heard the facts, would 
want at least to have in attendance on them, if possible, 
a physician who had been graduated at the school from 
which Arnold of Villanova was summoned on his im- 
portant medical mission. How much this would mean 
for the encouragement of scientific medicine as it was 
developing at the University of Paris can scarcely be 

The distinct tendency of the Popes to keep in touch 
with the best men in medicine and surgery in their time 
is well illustrated by the case of Guy de Chauliac. This 
great French surgeon and professor at the University of 
Montpelier is hailed by the modem medical world as the 
Father of Modem Surgery. There is no doubt at all of 
his intensely modem character as a teacher, nor of his 
enterprise as a progressive surgeon. Few men have 
done more for advance in medicine, and his name is 


stamped on a number of original ideas that have never 
been eclipsed in surgery. After studying anatomy very 
faithfully, especially by means of dissections, in Italy, 
where he tells us that his master at Bologna, Bertrucci, 
made a larger number of dissections scarcely more than 
thirty years after the supposed Papal decree of prohibi- 
tion, he returned to Montpelier to become the professor 
of surgery there, and introduced the Italian methods of 
investigation into the famous old university. 

At this time the Popes were at Avignon, not far 
distant from Montpelier. From them Guy received every 
encouragement in his scientific work. He insisted that 
no one could practice surgery with any hope of success 
unless he devoted himself to careful dissection of the 
human body. If we were to believe some of the things 
that have been said with regard to the Popes forbidding 
dissection, this should have been enough to keep the 
French surgeon from the favor of the Popes, but it did 
not On the contrary, he was the intimate friend and 
consultant medical attendant of two •of the Avignon 
Popes, and was the chamberlain to one of them. The 
good influence of Chauliac on the minds of the Popes is 
reflected in their interest in the medical department of 
the University of Montpelier. About this time Pope Ur- 
ban VI. founded the College of Twelve Physicians at 
Montpelier. He was an alumnus of the university, and 
had been appealed to to enlarge the opportunities of his 
Alma Mater. He did so in the manner just related. 

One of the Papal Physicians of the Avignon times was 
unfortunate. This was the ill-fated Cecco di Ascolo, 
who was distinguished as a poet and a philosopher as 
well as a physician. But for his sad end, one might be 
tempted to say, that he had so many irons in the fire 


that it was scarce to be wondered at that he suffered the 
fate of many another tender of too many irons, and 
eventually got his fingers burnt He was body physician 
of Pope John XXII. during a good part of the long pon- 
tificate of that strenuous old man, who became Pope 
when over seventy, lived to be ninety, yet accomplished 
important work in every year of his career. After leav- 
ing Avignon Cecco went to Italy and became the Profes- 
sor of Astrology at Bologna. The term astrology had 
none of the unfortunate or derisory signification that it 
has at the present time. It was, as the etymology of 
the word implies, the science of the stars, though it was 
cultivated with due reference to the influence of these 
heavenly bodies on himian fate and human constitutions. 
Hence a physician's interest in it This continued to be 
a characteristic of astrology down to the time of Tycho- 
Brahe, the Danish astronomer, at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century. Cecco and another distinguished 
physician of the time, Dino de Garbo, became involved 
in a public controversy, as the result of which Cecco was 
denounced to the public authorities as undermining the 
basis of government and virtually teaching anarchy, 
though it was called heresy, and as a result of the bitter 
feud he suffered the penalty of death by fire. 

The last of the Papal Physicians connected with the 
Pontifical Court at Avignon was almost as illustrious as 
any of his predecessors. He was the well-known Joan- 
nes de Tomamira, who was the body physician to Greg- 
ory XL until that Pontiff brought the Papal Court back 
to Rome. Then Tomamira became the chancellor of the 
University of Montpelier. He wrote an introduction to 
the study of medicine, meant for the use of students and 
young physicians, called a Clarificatoriimi, which, accord- 


ing to Puschmann's History of Medicine, was the most 
used text-book of medicine during the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. Besides this he wrote a long and 
important work On Fevers and the Accidents of Fevers, 
in which he sums up all the medical knowledge of the 
time on these subjects. 

That the policy of the Popes did not change as regards 
the selection of their physicians on their return from 
Avignon to Rome, is to be seen from the physician of 
the Popes whose See was in both places. This was the 
famous Francis of Siena, who is known best in history 
as the intimate friend of Petrarch, and who was physi- 
cian to Pope Gregory XI. and to his successor, Urban VL 
He had been a professor of medicine at the University 
of Pisa, and by special invitation went to fill the same 
position in the University of the Papal City, and became 
at the same time the medical adviser of the Popes. His 
influence on medicine was not very important, but he oc- 
cupied a very prominent position among the learned men 
of the time, and his personal prestige did much to add 
to the dignity of the profession. In our own time, the 
medical men who have been best known and whose mem- 
bership in the profession has added greatly to its popu- 
lar estimation, have at times not been distinguished for 
great things in medicine. Francis of Siena was such a 
man, and the fact that he was medical adviser to the 
Popes at the same time must be counted as an important 
factor in the evolution of medical dignity. 

One of the first writers on medical cases who did not 
indulge much in theory was Baverius de Baveriis, of 
Imola, who died about 1480, and who was the physician 
to Pope Nicholas V. shortly before and after the middle of 
the fifteenth century. In the light of the fact that a re- 


cent Papal physician, Dr. Lapponi, has written a book on 
hjrpnotism and spiritism, it is interesting to find that his 
predecessor in the post of Papal Physician four centuries 
and a half ago, discussed the differential diagnosis of 
hysteria, catalepsy, epilepsy and syncope. He also dis- 
cusses certain interesting cases of vertigo due to stomach 
trouble, and in general anticipates very unexpectedly 
neurotic conditions that are supposed to have been recog- 
nized in medicine much later than his time. Perhaps the 
most startling thing to be found in his works is his rec- 
ommendation of iron for chlorosis, which he claimed 
to have treated with the greatest success by means of 
this remedy. Of course, there was no idea at the time 
that chlorosis was due in any sense to a lack of iron in the 
system, and its value as a therapeutic agent must have 
come entirely from empiric considerations ; but then 
most of our advances in drug therapeutics have come by 
no better way. 

Another of the distinguished Papal Physicians of the 
fifteenth century was John of Vigo (1460-1520), who, as 
Professor Allbutt notes, was attached to the court of the 
fighting Pontiff, Julius II., and as a consequence saw 
much of field surgery. His text-book of surgery, printed 
at Rome in the early part of the sixteenth century, went 
through an enormous number of editions. No standard 
surgical treatise had appeared since that of Guy de 
Chauliac, and Vigo's continued to be the standard for the 
next full century, ite was a shrewd and skilful as well 
as a learned physician. Ilis surgical acumen deserves 
to be noted. He recognized that fracture of the inner 
table of the skull might take place without that of the 
outer, and made some very practical remarks with re- 
gard to gangrene and its causes. He attributed gan- 


Sn^ne in certain cases to faulty bandaging in fractures, 
and discussed its origin also as the result of severe cold. 
He treated sjrphilis with mercurial inunctions, a practice 
still followed by the best specialists in this line. His 
greatest claim to fame, however, is founded on the fact 
that he was the first to write a surgical treatise on 
wounds made by firearms. 

At this time, during the first half of the sixteenth 
century, the Papal Medical School begins to assume an 
importance in the history of medicine which it was to 
continue to hold for the next two centuries. After the 
refoimdation of the Sapienza by Pope Alexander VI., and 
its development under Pope Leo X., special care was 
taken and no expense spared by their successors, to se- 
cure the greatest teachers in anatomy in the world for 
the medical department of the Papal University. At this 
time all the great physicians were distinguished for their 
attainments in anatomy, somewhat as in the nineteenth 
century great physicians obtained their prestige by orig- 
inal work in pathology. The situations in the two cen- 
turies had much more in common than the casual reader 
of history or even the ordinary student of medicine would 
appreciate. The list of Papal Physicians, then, becomes 
to a great extent the roll of the professors of anatomy 
at the Papal University Medical School. The Popes of 
this period were wise enough in their generation to real- 
ize that the men who devoted themselves to original re- 
search in increasing the knowledge of the Kuman body, 
were also those likely to know most about the diseases 
of the body and their treatment. These scientific anat- 
omists, with the chastening knowledge of the complexity 
of the human body before them, probably made less 
claims to power to cure diseases than many an enthusi- 


astic therapeutist of the time, who thought, as have rep- 
resentatives of this specialty in every generation, that 
he has many infallible remedies for the cure of disease, 
though subsequent generations have not agreed with 

The true significance of the lives of the men who occu- 
pied the post of Papal Physician after this time will be 
best appreciated from our treatment of them in the chap- 
ter on The Papal Medical School. It will be sufficient 
here simply to recall the names of the distinguished men 
who, besides being professors in the Papal Medical 
School, were the medical advisers of the Popes. 

The first and most important of the great Renaissance 
professors of anatomy of the Roman Medical School who 
were also Papal Physicians was Columbus. He had been 
Vesalius's assistant at Padua and later his successor. 
He had lectured also at Bologna. When a special effort 
was made to give prestige to the University of Pisa, he 
was tempted by particularly liberal offers to become the 
professor of anatomy in that city. It was from here, by 
still more generous patronage, that the Popes obtained 
him for their medical school. On treating of the Papal 
Medical School, we shall have more to say of him and his 
successor in the professorship of anatomy and medicine 
as well as in the post of Papal Physician, who was the 
third of the first anatomists of the time— Eustachius. 
He with Columbus and Vesalius constitute the trinity of 
great original investigators in anatomy about the middle 
of the sixteenth century. It is extremely interesting, 
with the traditions that exist in the matter, to find that 
the Popes secured two of these great anatomists for 
their personal physicians as well as for their medical 
school. The third one, Vesalius, became the body phy- 


dician first to the Emperor Charles V. and then to his son 
Philip II., whom many would declare to be as Catholic as 
the Popes themselves in religious tendencies. 

After Eustachius came Varolius, whose name is en- 
graved in the history of medicine because the Pons Va- 
rolii or bridge of Varolius, an important structure in the 
brain now often simply called the pons, was named after 
him. To Varolius we owe one of the earliest detailed 
descriptions of the anatomy of the brain. He was the 
Papal Physician to Gregory XIII., who will be remem- 
bered as the Pope imder whom the reform of the calendar 
was made by the great Jesuit mathematician and astron- 
omer. Father Clavius. Pope Gregory's enlightened pat- 
ronage of medicine in the person of Varolius will be bet- 
ter appreciated if we add that he was chosen as Papal 
Physician when he was not yet thirty years of age, 
though he had already given abundant evidence of his 
talent for original investigation in anatomy. He died at 
the early age of thirty-two, but not until after he had 
accomplished a life's work sufficient to give him an en- 
during place in the history of anatomy. After Varolius 
as Papal Physician came Piccolomini and then Caesalpi- 
nus, whom the Italians hail as the discoverer of the cir- 
culation of the blood before Harvey, and of whom we 
shall have much to say in the next chapter. Piccolomini 
was not as great an original thinker and worker as many 
of his predecessors and successors, but he was a man 
whose prestige in medicine was scarcely less than theirs. 

That this same liberal patronage of distinguished phy- 
sicians was continued in the next century may be real- 
ized from the fact that Malpighi, the great founder of 
comparative anatomy, became one of the Papal Physi- 
cians. His intimate friend, Borelli, to whom we owe the 


introduction of physics into medicine, had spent some 
years in Rome, where, having been robbed by his ser- 
vants, with the consent of the Pope he took up his abode 
with the Society of the Pious Schools of San Pantaleone. 
Here he finished his important work De Motu Animal- 
ium, in which the principles of mechanics were first defi- 
nitely introduced into anatomy and physiology. The 
preface to this book was written by an ecclesiastic, who 
praises the piety of Borelli during his stay in Rome and 
chronicles his encouragement by the Popes in his medi- 
cal work. Malpighi was succeeded as Papal Physician 
by Tozzi, who is famous for his commentaries on the 
ancients rather than for original observation, but who 
was looked upon in his time as one of the most promi- 
nent physicians in Italy, and at this period that meant 
one of the most prominent physicians in the world. At 
the beginning of the next century, the eighteenth, Lan- 
cisi, by many considered the Father of Modem Clinical 
Medicine, became the Papal Physician. 

Among the consultant physicians to the Popes of the 
eighteenth century, though he never occupied the post 
of regular medical attendant, was Morgagni. His ad- 
vice was often sought by a succession of Popes not only 
with regard to their personal health, but also with regard 
to the teaching of medicine and other questions of like 
nature. Virchow has called Morgagni the Father of 
Modern Pathology, because he was the first to point out, 
that for a knowledge of disease it is quite as important 
to know where the disease has been as to try to learn 
what it has been. All of the Popes, five in number, of 
the latter part of Morgagni's life were on terms of inti- 
macy with him. Pope Benedict XIV., one of the very 
great Popes of the century, a native of Bologna, was 


an intimate friend of Morgagni. His scarcely less fa- 
mous successor, Pope Clement XIIL, had known Mor- 
gagni before his elevation to the Papacy, and after his 
election he wrote assuring Morgagni of his continued 
esteem and friendship, and asks him to consider the 
Papal palace always open to him on his visits to Rome. 
In an extant letter Clement praises his wisdom, his cul- 
ture, his courtesy, his piety toward God, his charity to- 
ward men, and holds him up as an example to all 
others for the special reason that, notwithstanding all 
his qualities, he had not aroused the enmity or envy of 
those around him, thus showing what a depth of hu- 
manity there was in him in addition to his scientific 

At this time Morgagni was looked upon by all the 
medical world as probably the greatest of living medical 
scientists. Visitors who came to Italy who were at all 
interested in science, always considered that their jour- 
ney had not been quite complete unless they had had an 
opportunity of meeting Morgagni. He had more per- 
sonal friends among the scientists of all the countries of 
Europe than any other man of his time. The fact that 
this leader in science should be at the same time a great 
I)ersonal friend of the Popes of his time is the best pos- 
sible evidence of the more than amicable relations which 
existed between the Church and medicine during this 
century. Morgagni's life of nearly ninety years indeed, 
covers most of the eighteenth century, and is of itself, 
without more ado, an absolute proof that there was not 
only no friction between religion and medicine, but shows 
on the contrary that medical science encountered patron- 
age and encouragement as far as ecclesiastics were con- 
cerned, while success in it brought honor and emolument. 


Morgagni's personal relations to the Church are best 
brought out by the fact that» of his fifteen childien, ten 
of whom lived to adult life, eight daughters became 
members of religious orders and one of his two surviving 
sons became a Jesuit The great physician was very 
proud and very glad that his children should have chosen 
what he did not hesitate to call the better part 

After Morgagni's time, the days of the French Revo- 
lution bring a cloud over the Papacy. There were 
political disturbances in Italy and the Popes were shorn 
of their temporal power. As a consequence their medi- 
cal school loses in prestige and finally disappears. The 
Papal Physicians after this, while distinguished among 
their fellow members of the Roman medical profession, 
were no longer the world-known discoverers in medicine 
that had so often been the case before. So long as the 
Popes had the power and possessed the means, they 
used both to encourage medicine in every way, as the 
list of Papal Physicians shows better than anjrthing else, 
and a study of this chapter of their history will imdo all 
the false assertions with regard to the supposed opposi- 
tion between the Church and science. 

We have already said, and it seems to deserve repe- 
tition here, that during most of these centuries in which 
the Papal Physicians were among the most distinguished 
discoverers in medicine, the term medicine included 
within itself most of what we now know as physical 
science. Botany was studied as a branch of medicine, 
and as we have seen, one of the Papal Physicians, 
Simon Januensis, compiled a dictionary that a modem 
German Historian of Botany finds excellent Astrology, 
under which term astronomy was included, was studied 
for the sake of the supposed influence of the stars on 



men's constitutions. —Chemistry was a branch of medi- 
cal study. Mineralogy was considered a science allied 
to medicine, and the use of antimony and other metals 
in medicine originated with physicians trying to extend 
the domain of knowledge to minerals. Comparative 
anatomy was founded by a Papal Physician. These 
were the principal physical sciences. To talk of oppo- 
sition between science and religion, then, with the most 
distinguished scientists of these centuries in friendly 
I)ersonal and official relations with the Popes, is to 
indulge in one of those absurdities common enough 
among those who must find matter for their condemnation 
of the Popes and the Church, but that every advance in 
modem history has pushed farther back into the rubbish 
chamber of outlived traditions. 


After the story of the Papal Physicians, the most im- 
portant phase of the relations of the Popes to the med- 
ical sciences is to be found in the story of the Papal 
Medical School. While it seems to be generally igrnored 
by those who are not especially familiar with the history 
of medical education, a medical school existed in connec- 
tion with the Papal University at Rome during* many 
centuries— according to excellent authorities, from the 
beginning of the fourteenth century— ^and this medical 
school had, as we have said elsewhere, during nearly 
two centuries some of the most distinguished professors 
of medicine in its ranks, and boasts among its faculty 
some of the greatest discoverers in the medical sciences, 
and especially in anatomy. For these two centuries it 
had but two important rivals, Padua and Bologna. Both 
of these were in Italy, and one, that of the University of 
Bologna, was in a Papal city, that is, was under the 
political dominion of the Popes. The best medical 
teaching, then, was to be found in the Papal States and 
under conditions such, that if there had been the slight- 
est opposition, or indeed anything but the most cordial 
encouragement for medical study, the medical schools of 
Rome and Bologna would surely have languished instead 
of flourishing beyond all others. 

Just about the beginning of the fourteenth century 



Pope Boniface VIIL, who was himself one of the dis- 
tinguished scholars of his time, determined that, besides 
the university of the Papal Court, which had existed for 
nearly a century at Rome, but which was mainly occu- 
pied with philosophy and theology and mainly attended 
by ecclesiastics, there should also be a university of the 
City of Rome for the people of his capital. This deter- 
mination was reached only a short time before the cul- 
mination of the difficulty between Pope Boniface and 
the King of Prance, which eventually resulted in what 
has been called the outrage of Anagni and the subse- 
quent death of the Pope within a short time. It has 
usually been thought, then, that in spite of certain ex- 
tant Papal docimients creating the University of the 
City of Rome, this university had not been organized 
before Pope Boniface's death, and as his successor did 
not take his seat at Rome, but at Avignon, it has usually 
been assumed that the University of the City came into 
existence at most only in an abortive form. Denifle, 
whose History of the Universities of the Middle Ages 
is looked upon as the best authority in such matters, 
however, insists that a complete university of the City 
of Rome did come into existence as a result of Boniface's 

All during the time when the Popes were at Avignon 
this university continued to exist, and in spite of the 
fact that at one time, as a consequence of a great 
earthquake followed by a pestilence, and then serious 
political troubles because of the absence of the Popes, 
Rome had only something less than ten thousand inhabi- 
tants, the university continued its work. Denifle calls 
attention to the fact that there are letters of Pope John 
XXn. which show that he paid out of the Papal revenues 


the salary of a teacher of physic at the University of the 
City of Rome while the Papal Court was at Avignon, 
It is rather interesting to find the names of the two 
Popes, Boniface VIIL and John XXII., whose Papal de- 
crees are supposed to have prevented the study of 
anatomy and chemistry, thus cropping up on unques- 
tionable authority as the founder and the patron of 
medical teaching in the City of Rome. Pope Boniface 
VIIL is now generally credited with having been the 
founder of the Sapienza, the medical school of which, 
at the beginning of the sixteenth century, was to de- 
velop into one of the most important schools of its kind 
in Europe, and to have on its faculty list the greatest 
teachers of their time, who had been tempted to come 
to Rome because the Popes wished to enhance the pres- 
tige of the medical school of their capital. 

While it may be a surprise for those who have been 
accustomed to think of the Popes as inalterably opposed 
to all science, and especially to medical science, thus to 
find them encouraging and fostering medical teaching, 
it will only be what would naturally be expected by 
those who know anything of the real history of medi- 
cine in the earlier Middle Ages. There is no doubt at 
all, that during the so-called ** dark ages," that is, when 
the invasion of the barbarians had put out the lights of 
the older civilizations, it was mainly ecclesiastics who 
preserved whatever traditions there were of the old 
medical learning and carried on whatever serious teach- 
ing of medicine, in the sense of medical science, that 
existed during this time. The monks were the most 
prominent in this; and the Benedictines, after their 
foundation in the sixth century, added to their duties of 
caring for the other temporal needs of the poor, who so 


often appealed to them, that of helping them as far as 
they could in any bodily ailments with which they might 
be afflicted. There are even definite traditions that 
a certain amount of training in medicine, or at least in 
the care of the sick, was one of the features of the Bene- 
dictine monasteries. 

Dr. Payne in his article on the History of Medicine in 
the Encyclopaedia Brittanica said: "In civil history 
there is no real break. A continuous thread of learning 
and practice must have connected the last period of 
Roman medicine with the dawn of science in the Middle 
Ages. But the intellectual thread is naturally traced 
with greater difficulty than that which is the theme of 
civil history ; and in periods such as that from the fifth 
to the tenth century in Europe, it is almost lost. The 
chief homes of medical as of other learning m these dis- 
turbed times were the monasteries. Though the science 
was certainly not advanced by their labors, it was saved 
from total oblivion, and many ancient medical works 
were preserved in Latin or the vernacular versions. It 
was among the Benedictines that the monastic studies 
of medicine first received a new direction and aimed at 
a higher standard. The study of Hippocrates, Galen, 
and other classics was recommended by Cassiodorus 
(sixth century), and in the original mother abbey of 
Monte Cassino medicine was studied, though there was 
probably not what could be called a medical school there ; 
nor had this foundation any connection (as has been 
supposed) with the famous school of Salerno. '* 

A review of some of the interesting features of the 
early history of medical education will serve to show 
that, not only was there no ecclesiastical interference 
with the new developing science, but, on the contrary, 


without the personal aid and the intelligent patronage 
of ecclesiastics of all degree, and especially of arch- 
bishops and Popes, the development of medical teaching 
that took place at Salerno would probably not have had 
the significance in history that it now enjoys. While 
there was no institutional connection between the medi- 
cal school of Salerno and the Benedictine Monastery at 
Monte Cassino, it is known that at the end of the seventh 
century there was a branch Benedictine monastery at 
Salerno, and some of the prelates and higher clergy oc- 
cupied posts as teachers in the school, and even became 
distinguished for medical acquirements. 

Though the Salemitan medical school proper was a 
secular institution, there is no doubt that the Benedic- 
tines had great influence in it and had fostered its forma- 
tion. How close the monks of Monte Cassino were allied 
to the Popes, everyone knows. The Benedictines con- 
sidered themselves the special wards of the Papacy, and 
a nimiber of the Abbots of Monte Cassino, or monks be- 
longing to the community, and of men who had been 
educated in the monastery, had been raised to the 
Papacy during the Middle Ages. The origin of modem 
medical teaching is thus closely associated not only with 
the Benedictines, but through them with the Popes, 
without whose encouragement and sanction the work 
would not have flourished as it did. 

In advance of the formal establishment of medical 
schools, in the modem sense of the word, two tropes 
were distinguished before their elevation to the Papacy 
for their attainments in all the sciences, and especially 
in medicine, one of whom actually founded an important 
school of thought in medicine, while the other was a 
professor at Salerno. The first of these is the famous 


Gerbert, who, under the name of Sylvester 11. , was Pope 
at the end of the millenium and carried Christianity over 
what was supposed to be the perilous period of the com- 
pletion of the first thousand years, when the end of the 
world was so universally looked for. Gerbert was fa- 
mous for his attainments in every branch of science, and 
indeed so many wonderful traditions have collected 
around his name in this matter that one hesitates to ac- 
cept most of them. There seems to be no doubt, how- 
ever, that he was the beloved master of Pulbert of 
Chartres, who did much for medicine in France at the 
beginning of the eleventh century and who was the 
founder of the so-called school of Chartres and himself 
the teacher of John of Chartres, who became the physi- 
cian to King Henry L, of France, and of Peter of Char- 
tres and Hildier and Goisbert 

Before the end of the eleventh century Pope Victor 
III., who had been the Abbot of Monte Cassino, was 
elected Pope much against his will. He occupied the 
Papal throne only for about a year and a half. He had 
been especially recommended by Pope Gregory VH., the 
famous Hildebrand, as a very suitable successor. Desi- 
derius, as he was called before becoming Pope, was one 
of the best scholars of his time, and had taught for some 
years with great distinction at Salerno. It is not known 
absolutely that he taught medicine, but, as the univer- 
sity of Salerno is usually considered not to have been 
founded until the middle of the next century, and as be- 
fore that time the main teaching faculty was that of the 
medical school and all other teaching was subordinated 
to it, Desiderius must surely be considered as a teacher 
at least of medical students. At that time a physician 
was expected to know something more than merely his 


profession. Mathematics and philosophy were the two 
favorite subjects to which, besides medicine, they de- 
voted themselves. The presence of the future Pope at 
Salerno is, moreover, the best possible index of the sym- 
pathy between the ecclesiastical authorities and the 
medical school. 

Besides there are definite records of the friendship 
which existed between Alphanus, Archbishop of Salerno, 
and Desiderius, while they were both members of the 
Benedictine Conmiunity of Monte Cassino. Alphanus 
subsequently taught medicine at Salerno, and some of 
his writings on medicine have been preserved for us. 
He was the author of a work bearing the title De QiuU- 
Twr Elementis Corporis Humani, a treatise on the four 
elements of the human body, which is a compendium of 
most of the knowledge of anatomy and physiology of 
the time, though it also contains much more than the in- 
formation with regard to the merely physical side of 
man's being. The fact that Alphanus should have been 
promoted from the professorship in the medical faculty 
to the Archbishopric of Salerno is only another proof of 
the entire sympathy which existed between the Church 
and the professors of medical science at that time. 

During the thirteenth century universities were 
founded in some twenty important cities in Europe, and 
in connection with most of them a medical school was 
established. These educational institutions were the re- 
sult of the initiative of ecclesiastics ; their officials all 
belonged to the clerical body, most of their students 
were considered as clerics— and indeed this was the one 
way to secure them against the calls for military service 
which would otherwise have disturbed the enthusiasm 
for study— and the Popes were considered the supreme 


authority over all the universities. In spite of this thor- 
oughly ecclesiastical character of the universities and 
educational institutions, there is not a hint of interference 
with the teaching of medical science and abundant evi- 
dence of its encouragement Indeed, for anyone who 
knows the story of the universities of the thirteenth 
century, it is practically impossible to understand how 
there could have arisen any tradition of ecclesiastical 
opposition to education in any form, and there is not a 
trace of foundation for the stories with regard to eccle- 
siastical intolerance of science, which are supposed to 
be. supported by certain Papal decrees. 

The best possible demonstration of the maintenance of 
the most amicable relations between churchmen and 
physicians during the century in which these decrees 
were issued is also the most interesting fact in the his- 
tory of medicine during the thirteenth century. It is 
not generally known that one of the most distinguished 
physicians of the thirteenth century, one who wrote a 
book on the special subject of eye diseases that is still 
a classic, afterwards became Pope under the name of 
John. He is variously known as John XIX., John XX., 
or John XXI., according as certain occupants of the 
Papal throne are considered to be of authority or not. 
He was educated at Paris, and probably spent some 
time at Montpelier. Under the name of Peter of Spain, 
though he was what we should now call a Portuguese, 
he subsequently taught physic at the University of 
Sienna. Here he wrote the famous little work on the 
Diseases of the Eye, which was reviewed by Dr. Petella, 
physician-in-chief of the Royal Italian Marine, in Janus, 
the International Archives for the History of Medicine 
and for Medical Geography in 1898. Petella does not 


hesitate to proclaim him one of the greatest men of his 
time. Daunou, one of the continuators of the Benedic- 
tines' literary history of France,^ says that this Peter of 
Spain was one of the most notable persons in Europe in 
his generation. 

Pope John XXL, before his accession to the Papacy, 
had certainly accomplished remarkable work in medicine, 
and of a kind that makes his writings of great interest 
even at the present day. There is scarcely an important 
pathological condition of the eye which does not receive 
some consideration in this little book, and it is a constant 
source of surprise in reading it to find, with their limited 
knowledge and lack of instruments, what good diagnos- 
ticians the ophthalmologists of the thirteenth century 
were. Cataract is described, for instance, under the 
name of ** water that descends into the eye," and a 
distinction is made between cataract from internal and 
external causes. Hardening of the eye is mentioned 
and is declared to be very serious in its effects. There 
seems no doubt that this was glaucoma. Conditions of 
the lids, particularly, were differentiated and treated by 
rational measures, some of them quite modem in sub- 
stance. A curious anticipation of modem therapeu- 
tics is the frequent recommendation of extracts of the 
livers of various fishes for external and internal use, 
that is a reminder of the present emplojnnent of cod- 
liver oil. The book is acknowledged to be a classic in 
medicine. The fact that its author should have become 
Pope later, is the best proof that instead of opposition 
there was the greatest sympathy between medicine and 
ecclesiasticism in his time. 

1 Histoire Litteraire de la France, Vol. XVL This is the famous work besTun hf 
the Benedictines of St. Maur. 


With these thoroughly amicable relations between the 
Church and the medical schools during the thirteenth 
and preceeding centuries, it will not be so much of a 
surprise as it might otherwise be, to learn of the foun- 
dation of the Medical School of Rome and of the con- 
tinuation of Papal patronage of it even while the Popes 
were absent at Avignon. University records do not say 
much about it during the next two centuries. With the 
coming of the Renaissance, however, and the entrance 
of a new spirit into education, the Popes also were 
touched by the educational time-spirit, and there came 
a rejuvenation of the University of the City, which now 
acquired a new name, that of the Sapienza, and became 
the home of some of the most distinguished teaching in 
Europe in every department. Early in the sixteenth 
century the medical department of the Sapienza, or 
Papal University at Rome, became one of the most note- 
worthy institutions of Europe because of the work in 
medicine accomplished there, and had among its faculty 
the most distinguished investigators in medical science, 
and especially in that department of medicine— anatomy 
—which by an unfortunate tradition the Popes are said 
to have hampered. 

The most important event in the history of the insti- 
tution, after its foundation, was its establishment in the 
home which it was to occupy down to our own time. Its 
new habitation was prepared for it by the Pope who has 
probably been the most maligned in history— Alexander 
VI. A magnificent site was appropriated for it, and the 
construction of suitable buildings begun. A little more 
than a decade later, Leo X., another one of the misunder- 
stood Popes, came to the conclusion that the two uni- 
versities in Rome, that of the Papal Court and that of 


the City, would do better work if combined into one, 
and accordingly this combination was effected. This 
made provision for one very strong teaching faculty in 
Rome. The final steps for the completion of the union 
of the two universities were taken by Pope Alexander 
VIL, and the buildings which the new university was 
to occupy were finished in a manner worthy of the 
great institution of learning which it was hoped to 
create in Rome. 

The first of the great professors who made the Papal 
Medical School famous was Realdo Colombo, often 
spoken of as Columbus simply, who was invited to teach 
in Rome by Pope Paul III., the same Pope who issued 
the bull founding the Jesuits. Some people might con- 
sider the two actions as representing contrary tenden- 
cies in education, but they are not such as know either 
the history of the Jesuits, or of the constant endeavor 
of the Popes to foster education. Columbus came to 
Rome, as we have said, with the prestige of having suc- 
ceeded Vesalius at Padua, and later having been spe- 
cially tempted by the reigning prince in Pisa, who 
wanted to create a great medical school in connection 
with his university in that city, which he was at that 
moment trying to raise to distinction, to accept the pro- 
fessorship of anatomy there. 

Vesalius was still alive at this time, and the period 
when, if we would credit certain historians who em- 
phasize the opposition between the Church and science, 
it was dangerous to dissect human bodies had not yet 
passed. It is interesting to read the account of Colirni- 
bus's reception in Rome, and the interest manifested in 
his work by all classes in the Roman University at this 
time. His course in anatomy was so enthusiastically 


attended that, as he himself tells in a letter to a friend, 
he often had several hundred persons in his audience 
when he gave his anatomical demonstrations on the 
cadaver. These were not all medical students, but many 
of them were ecclesiastics, and some of them important 
members of the hierarchy. Even cardinals manifested 
their interest in anatomy, and occasionally attended the 
public dissections— public, that is, as far as the Uni- 
versity is concerned— which were made by Columbus. 

Columbus's enthusiasm for anatomy was such that, as 
Dr. Fisher said of him in the Annals of Anatomy and 
Surgery, Brooklyn, 1878-1880, "he dissected an extra- 
ordinary nimiber of human bodies, and so devoted him- 
self to the solution of problems in anatomy and physi- 
ology that he has been most aptly styled the Claude 
Bernard of the sixteenth century." In one year, for in- 
stance, he is said to have dissected no less than fourteen 
bodies, demonstrating, as Dr. Fisher has said, that ''it 
was an age of remarkable tolerance for scientific in- 

Besides being an investigator, Colimibus was a great 
teacher, and many of our modern methods of instruction 
in medical schools had their origin in the system of de- 
monstrations introduced by him. His descriptions of 
the demonstrations for students upon living animals, 
show that some of the most recent ideas in medical 
teaching were anticipated by this Roman professor of 
anatomy and medicine in the Renaissance period. His 
demonstrations of the heart and blood-vessels and of 
the actions of the lungs are particularly complete, and 
must have given his students a very practical working 
knowledge of these important physiological functions. 
In a word, the medical teaching of the Roman Uni- 


versity, under him at this time, far from being merely 
theoretic and distant from actual experience and de- 
monstration, was thoroughly modem in its methods.. 

It is no wonder, then, that practically all the ecclesi- 
astical visitors who came in such niunbers to Rome, 
made it a custom at this time to attend one or more of 
Coliunbus's anatomical lectures. They were looked upon 
as one of the features of the Roman university life of 
the time. How much good was accomplished by this 
can scarcely be estimated. The example must have had 
great influence especially on members of faculties of 
various educational institutions who came to the Papal 
See. To some degree at least these interesting teaching 
methods must have aroused in such men the desire to 
see them emulated in their own teaching institutions, 
and therefore must have done much to advance medical 
education. The fact that these things were done in the 
Papal Medical School only emphasized the significance 
of them for ecclesiastics, and made them more ready 
to bring about their imitation in other teaching 

How well the Popes were justified in their estimation 
of Columbus's genius as an anatomical investigator will 
be best appreciated from his discovery of the pulmonary 
circulation, which formed, as Harvey confesses at the 
beginning of his work on the circulation, the foundation 
on which Harvey's great discovery naturally arose. It 
is probable that Columbus would not have come to 
Rome, in spite of the fiattering offers held out to him, 
only that he was already the personal friend of a num- 
ber of high ecclesiastics, and even of the Pope who ex- 
tended the invitation. How well the Popes continued 
to think of Columbus after his years of work in the 


Roman Medical School will be well understood from the 
fact that, when his great work De Re Anatomica was 
published after his death by his sons, Pope Pius IV. ac- 
cepted the dedication of it This was of course not an 
unusual thing, for many books on other sciences were 
dedicated to the Popes, and the example thus set was sub- 
sequently imitated. Twenty-five years later, Professor 
Piccolomini dedicated his Anatomical Lectures to Pope 
SixtusV. Subsequent anatomical publications of the 
Papal Medical School were issued under like patronage. 
The famous edition of Eustachius's anatomical sketches, 
imblished imder the editorship of Lancisi, is a notable 
example of this, and went to press mainly at the ex- 
pense of Pope Clement XL, who realized how valuable 
they were likely to be for the teaching of anatomy. 

These two great discoverers in anatomy, Columbus 
and Eustachius, were succeeded, as is so often the case 
in the history of university faculties, by a man more ca- 
pable of writing about great discoveries than of making 
them himself. This was Piccolomini, who devoted him- 
self to showing how much the ancients had taught about 
anatomy, though at the same time he also made clear the 
place occupied by modern anatomical discoveries. While 
his name is not attached to any great discovery in the 
science of anatomy, he is generally acknowledged to 
have been one of the great teachers of his time and one 
who was needed just then in order to make people re- 
alize how the old and the new in anatomy must be co- 
ordinated. Piccolomini's successor in the chair of anat- 
omy at Rome was another original genius and investigator 
whose name, however, and fame has never been as great 
among English-speaking people as in Italy, or among 
the Latin races generally. The fact that he was a rival 


of Harvey's in the matter of the discovery of the dreu- 
lation of the blood has always made the Italians exag- 
gerate his position in medical history, while it has 
undoubtedly made English writers of medical history 
diminish the importance of his work. 

Historians of science consider him worthy to be called 
the greatest living scientist of his time— the end of the 
sixteenth century. He was not only a scientific physician, 
but he was an authority in all the sciences related to med- 
icine, and indeed had profound interests in every branch 
of physical science. His contemporaries looked up to 
him as a leader in scientific thought To anyone who 
examines the question of the discovery of the circulation 
of the blood with freedom from bias, there can be no 
doubt but that the honor for this discovery has been 
unduly taken away from Csesalpinus in English-speaking 
countries, to be conferred solely on Harvey. Not that there 
is any wish to lessen the value of Harvey's magnificent 
original work, nor make little of his wonderful powers 
of observation, nor of the marvelous experimental and 
logical method by which he followed out his thoughts to 
their legitimate conclusion, but that I would insist on 
giving honor where honor is due, though most writers in 
English refuse to give CaBsalpinus's claims a proper 
share of attention. 

The Italians have always declared that Caesalpinus 
was the real discoverer of the circulation, and there is 
no doubt that his career occurs just at that point in the 
evolution of the medical sciences, and especially anatomy 
and physiology in Italy, where this discovery would 
naturally come. Lest it should be thought, however, 
that my interest in the Popes and the Papal Medical 
School has led me to exaggerate the claims of Caes- 


alpinus as a great naturalist and medical scientist, I prefer 
to quote the description of him given by Professor 
Michael Foster in his lectures on the History of Physi- 
ology, delivered in this country as the Lane Lectures, at 
the Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, and pub- 
lished by the Cambridge University Press, 1901. Pro- 
fessor Foster was not one to exaggerate the claims of any 
Italian, and least of all of any Italian who might be sup- 
posed to have a claim that would stand against Harvey's. 
The soup5on of Chauvinism in his treatment of Servetus 
and Columbus in this regard is indeed rather amusing. 
He said:— 

*' Of a very different stamp to Columbus was Andreas 
Caesalpinus. Bom at Arezzo in 1519, he was for many 
years Professor of Medicine at Pisa, namely, from 1567 to 
1592, when he passed to Rome, where he became Professor 
at the Sapienza University and Physician to Pope Clem- 
ent VIIL, and where at a ripe old age he died in 1603. 

"If Colimibus lacked general culture, Caesalpinus was 
drowned in it. Learned in all the learning of the ancients 
and an enthusiastic Aristotelian, he also early laid hold of 
all the new learning of the time. Naturalist as well as 
physician, he taught at Pisa botany as well as medicine, 
being from 1555 to 1575 Professor of Botany, with charge 
of the Botanic garden founded there in 1543, the first of 
its kind— one remaining until the present day." 

Professor Foster admits that Caesalpinus had a won- 
derful power of synthetising knowledge already in hand 
and anticipating conclusions in science that were to be 
confirmed subsequently. In his Medical Questions, 
though the work is written in rambling, discursive vein, 
he enunciated views which, however he arrived at them, 
certainly foreshadowed or even anticipated those which 


were later to be established on a sound basis. Poster 
quotes a passage in which Caesalpinus made it very clear 
that he thoroughly understood the mechanism of the 
circulation and grasped every detail essential to it After 
quoting this passage, which it must be confessed is 
rambling, Foster thus sums up what Caesalpinus has to 
say with regard to the circulation:— 

' ' He thus appears to have grasped the important truth, 
hidden, it would seem, from all before him, that the 
heart, at its systole, discharges its contents into the 
aorta (and pulmonary artery), and at its diastole receives 
blood from the vena cava (and pulmonary vein).'' 

"Again, in his Medical Questions he seems to have 
grasped the facts of the flow from the arteries to the 
veins, and of the flow along the veins to the heart" 

That there was no change of Papal policy in the next 
century can be gathered from an interesting phase of 
Papal interest in science which, though not directly 
concerned with medicine, eventually resulted in impor- 
tant theoretic advances in medical science. This was 
the encouragement of Father Kircher's work at Rome. 
Father Kircher was the Jesuit who made the first 
scientific museum. As the result of his general interest 
in things scientific he wrote a little book on the pest 
In this book he stated in very clear terms the modem 
doctrine of the origin of disease from little living things, 
which he called corpuscles. Because of this Tyndall 
attributes to Father Kircher the first realization of the 
role that bacteria play in disease. Even more won- 
derful than this, however, was Father Kircher' s antic- 
ipation of modem ideas with regard to the conveyance 
of disease. He insisted that contagious diseases, as a rule, 
were not carried, as had been thought, by the air, but 


were conveyed from one person to another, either directly, 
or by the intermediation of some living thing. He consid- 
ered that cats and dogs were surely active in conveying 
diseases, and he even reached the conclusion that insects 
were also important in this matter. His expressions with 
regard to this are not of the indefinite character which 
one often encounters in the supposed anticipation of im- 
portant principles in medicine, but are very precise and 
definite. Father Kircher is quoted by Dr. Howard Kelly, 
of Baltimore, in his life of Major Walter Reed, whose 
work in showing that yellow fever is transmitted by mos- 
quitoes is well known, as saying in one place, ' ' Flies carry 
the plague, ' ' and in another place, ' ' There can be no doubt 
that flies feed on the internal secretions of the diseased 
dying, then flying away they deposit their excretions 
on the food in neighboring dwellings, and persons who 
eat it are thus infected." It is interesting to find that 
the Professor of the Practice of Medicine in the Papal 
University at Rome when this book was published, far 
from resenting, as many professors of medicine might,-^ 
the excursion of an outsider into his science, said Father 
Kircher's book " not only contains an excellent r6sum6 
of all that is known about the pest or plague, but also 
many valuable hints and suggestions on the regional 
spread of the disease which had never before been 
made." He did not hesitate to add that it was marvel- 
ous for a man, not educated as a physician, to have 
reached such surprising conclusions, which seemed 
worthy of general acceptance. All this, it may be said in 
passing, was within a few years after the trial of Galileo. 
In this next century the Popes continued their special 
efforts to secure the greatest teachers of anatomy and 
physiology for their Roman medical school. One of the 


results was the appointment of Malpi^hi, whose name 
has deservedly become attached to more structures in 
the human body because of tissues which he ^t studied 
in detail, than any other man in the history of medicine. 
Malpighi represents the beginning of most of the com- 
parative biological sciences, and his original observations 
upon plants, upon the lower animals, on fishes and then 
on the anatomical structure of man and the higher ani- 
mals, stamp him as an investigating genius of the highest 
order. He was the personal friend of Innocent XI., who 
wished to have him near him at Rome as his own medi- 
cal adviser, and besides desired the prestige of his fame 
and the stimulating example of his investigating spirit 
for the students of the medical school of the Sapienza. 
The closing years of Malpighi's life were rendered hap- 
pier, and his wonderful researches were as well re- 
warded as such work can be, by the estimation in which 
he was held at Rome. 

Malpighi was succeeded as Papal Physician and Pro- 
fessor in Rome by Tozzi, who is distinguished in the his- 
tory of medicine for his commentaries on the ancients 
rather than for original observation, but who was looked 
upon in his time as one of the most prominent physicians 
in Italy. Tozzi had been the Professor of Medicine and 
Mathematics at the University of Naples, where he be- 
came famous. From here he received a flattering invi- 
tation to the chair of physic at Padua. In order that he 
might not desert Naples, his salary was raised and he 
was given the post of Protomedicus or Chief Physician 
to the Court. It was after this that the death of Mal- 
pighi left an important chair vacant in Rome, and there 
being no one apparently more worthy than this man for 
whom other important universities were contending, he 


was offered the chair on such excellent conditions that 
he accepted it It is another case of the Popes being 
not only willing and even anxious, but also able because 
of their position, to secure the best talent available for 
their medical school at the Roman University. 

Undoubtedly one of the greatest members of the 
faculty that the Papal Medical School ever had is Lan- 
cisi, one of the supreme medical teachers of history, 
who is usually considered one of the founders of modem 
clinical medicine. When at the beginning of the eigh- 
teenth century Boerhaave attracted the attention of the 
world by his bedside teaching of medicine at Leyden, 
there were two occupants of thrones in Europe who 
proved to have particular interest in this new departure. 
They were perhaps the last two who might ordinarily be 
expected to have much use for such improvements in 
medical education. One of them was the Empress Ma- 
ria Theresa, of Austria, whose patronage of Boerhaave's 
pupil, Van Swieten, secured the establishment of that 
system of clinical teaching which has since made the 
Vienna Medical School famous. The other was the Pope. 
With his approbation Lancisi established clinical teach- 
ing at Rome, and thus did much to maintain at Rome 
a great center of medical progress during the eighteenth 

Lancisi was graduated at the Sapienza, the Roman 
University, at the early age of eighteen. When only 
twenty-two he became assistant physician at the Santo 
Spirit© Hospital and began to show the first hint of the 
brilliant genius he was to display later in life. 

Some ten years later, as the result of a competitive 
examination which still further demonstrated his talents, 
he was chosen Professor of Anatomy in his Alma Mater, 


the Sapienza. He was only thirty-three at the time, and 
the fact that he should be chosen shows that the Papal 
University was ready to take advantage of talent where- 
ever it found it and did not allow itself to be won only 
by notoriety at a distance. The excellence of the choice 
was demonstrated before long by Lancisi's brilliant 
career as a teacher and an original investigator. Some 
of the most distinguished medical men from all over 
the world came to listen to his lectures (according to 
Hirsch's Biographical Lexicon of the Most Prominent 
Physicians of All Times and Peoples), and even Mal- 
pighi and Tozzi, the Papal physicians during the time, 
were among his auditors.^ 

After the departure of Tozzi from Rome Lancisi be- 
came the Papal physician. He continued to be the 
medical adviser of Popes Innocent XI. and XII. and of 
Clement XL imtil his death in 1720. It was under 
Clement that he had the new clinic built, in which 
teaching after the manner of Boerhaave was to be 
established. At his death Lancisi left his fortune and 
his library to Santo Spirito Hospital, on condition that a 
new portion of the hospital should be erected for women. 
There is no doubt that he belongs among the most 
distinguished of contributors to medical science, and 
Hirsch declares that anatomy, practical medicine, and 
hygiene are indebted to him for notable achievements. 
His books are still classics. The one on Sudden Death 
worked a revolution in the medical diseases of the brain 
and heart. His work De Motu Cordis et Aneurysmati- 
bus has been pronounced epoch-making, and his sug- 
gestion of percussion over the sternum in order to deter- 

^ Most of these details are taken from Hirsch's Bioflrraphiaches Lesdoon der 
rasrenden Aertzte aller Zeiten and V5Iker. Wien und Leipsiff. 1886. 


mine the presence of an aneurysm, made him abnost an 
anticipator of Auenbrugger and prompted Morgagni's 
famous book De Sedibus et Causis Morborum, which ap- 
peared after his death. Lancisi's work on Aneurysms 
was not published until after his death. 

Two others of his books deserve mention because they 
show how broad were the interests of the man in many 
phases of progress in medicine. Their titles are Dis- 
eases and Infections of Domestic Animals and The Climate 
of Rome. 

The next great name in Italian medicine is that of 
Morgagni. He was not a regular Papal physician, nor 
a member of the faculty of the Papal Medical School, 
but he was often consulted, as we told in the chapter 
on Papal Physicians, both as to the health of the Popes 
and the methods of teaching at the Roman Medical 
School. His life brings us down almost to the nine- 
teenth century, and the cordial relations of the Popes to 
him, far from being an exception in the history of 
medicine, are only typical of the attitude of the Roman 
Pontiffs to medical and all other scientists from the 
dawn of the history of science in modem times. 

While the Papal Medical School at Rome, attached to 
the university of the city and directly under the control 
of the Papal Curia, more especially deserves the name 
thus given it, it must not be forgotten that there was in 
the Papal States a series of medical schools in various 
cities. One of these, at Perugia, founded by a bull of 
Pope John XXII., has come under consideration in the 
chapter on A Papal Patron of Medical Education. An- 
other medical school, that of Ferrara, which also was in 
the Papal States, had considerable prestige. Some dis- 
tinguished professors taught there before going to 


Padua or Bologna. At the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, Bologna, after having been during the preced- 
ing three centuries under the domination of one power- 
ful family or another, from the Pepoli to the Bentivogli, 
and then to the Visconti and back again to the Benti- 
vogli, was incorporated in the Papal States under Pope 
Julius II. At this time the Medical School of Bologna 
was at the height of its reputation and was one of the 
two greatest medical schools in Italy. Padua was its 
only rival. Shortly after this Rome became a serious 
competitor in medical education. Practically, then, this 
was a second Papal medical school, almost as directly 
under the control of the Popes as the Roman Medical 
School. Far from there being any diminution in the 
glory or the efficiency of the Bolognese Medical School, 
its reputation even became enhanced after the city came 
under the control of the Popes. 

This is all the more surprising because, as we have 
shown, just about this time the Popes began the work 
of making their Medical School at Rome the most im- 
portant center for medical education, especially in the 
scientific phases of medicine— anatomy, physiology, and 
comparative anatomy— that there was at that time in 
the world. In spite of this rivalry, however, nothing 
was done directly to hurt the prestige of the school of 
Bologna, and indeed the rivalry seems to have been more 
of an encouraging competition than in any sense a de- 
structive struggle for existence. When the Popes took 
possession of Bologna, Alexander Achillini was professor 
of anatomy and medicine in the Bolognese school, and 
his discoveries and methods of investigation attracted 
the attention of students from all over the world. 
His assistant for many years and his successor in the 


post was Berengar of Carpi, of whom we have ah-eady 
said much in the chapter Anatomy Down to the Renais- 
sance. For some time Vesalius lectured on medicine and 
anatomy at Bologna, and one of Berengar' s most distin- 
guished successors in the sixteenth century was Aranzi, 
who occupied the post of anatomical professor for 
thirty-two years and who corrected a number of errors 
in anatomical detail that had been made by Vesalius and 
others of the preceding generation. He confirmed 
Columbus's discoveries at Rome with regard to the 
course which the blood follows in passing from the right 
to the left side of the heart, and made many important 
additions to the knowledge of the anatomical relations 
of the cavities of the heart, the valves, and the great 
blood vessels. There are a number of important struc- 
tures in the brain which owe their names to him, and 
his descriptions of them are better, according to Prof. 
Turner, than those of other anatomists for a century 
after his time. 

The tradition of great teachers thus carried on during 
the first century after the absorption of Bologna into 
the Papal States, continued uninterruptedly in the next 
century, when we find on the list of professors at Bol- 
ogna such names as those of Malpighi, the greatest 
mind in the medical sciences of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, and his colleague Fracassati, who, though over- 
shrouded by Malpighi, still claims a prominent place in 
the history of medicine. Bologna has a special feature 
of medical development to its credit which, because of its 
importance for science in general as well as for medicine, 
deserves to be mentioned here. During the century 
after the Popes became the rulers of the city scientific 
societies were founded here, and as the professors and 


students of the medical school were also the most inter- 
ested in science in general, the membership of these 
societies was largely made up of individuals connected 
with the medical school. A special society for the cul- 
tivation of anatomical knowledge, the first of its kind 
ever founded, was established in Bologna scarcely more 
than a century after the city came under the Papal 
dominion. It was called the Coro Anatomico, or anatom- 
ical choir, and had at first only nine members. Among 
these, however, were such distinguished men as Mai- 
pighi, Fracassati, Capponi, and Massari, to the last of 
whom the initiative of the foundation of the society is 
said to have been due. Bologna was noted during the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for the number of 
foreign students of medicine who were attracted to its 
hospitable medical school and who carried the tradition 
of science for its own sake, so characteristic of this Papal 
Medical School, to all parts of the world. 

After this consideration of the relation of the Popes 
to medical science during many centuries when medicine 
practically included all the physical sciences, it may 
seem utterly inexplicable to any fair-minded person that 
the tradition of the opposition of the Popes to science 
and scientific educational development should have ap- 
parently become a commonplace in history. This will 
not be a surprise, however, to those who know how per- 
versive and influential has been the Protestant tradition 
which from the beginning of the sixteenth century has 
devoted itself to blackening the reputation of the Church, 
the Popes, and Catholic ecclesiastics generally. No- 
where is this more true than in history as written for 
English-speaking people. Those who left the old Church 
and their immediate descendants, justified their with- 



drawal to themselves as well as others, by taking every 
possible excuse and inventing every possible pretext, to 
show how unworthy of their continued allegiance the 
old Church had been. The point of view thus assumed 
was taken quite seriously by succeeding generations, 
until at length a whole body of historical traditions, 
utterly unfoimded in fact, accumulated, especially in 
England, where it must be remembered that for several 
centuries Catholics were not in a position to impugn and 
eradicate it This unfortunate state of affairs, and not 
real opposition on the part of the Popes to science, is the 
source of the tradition with regard to the supposed op- 
position between the Church and science. 


Probably the most important work that the Popes did 
for medical science in the Middle Ages was their en- 
couragement of the development of a hospital system 
throughout Christianity. The story of this movement is 
not only interesting because it represents a coordination 
of social effort for the relief of suffering humanity, but 
also because it represents the provision of opportunities 
for the study of disease and the skilled care of the ail- 
ing such as can come in no other way. Those who are 
familiar with the history of medicine, and especially of 
surgery, know that a great period of progress in these 
departments came during the thirteenth century. The 
next two centuries indeed represent an epoch of surgical 
advance such as was probably never surpassed and only 
equalled by the last century. This seems much to say 
of a medieval century 700 years ago, but our chapter on 
surgery will, I think, amply justify the assertion. The 
reasons for this great development in surgical knowl- 
edge are properly understood only when we come to 
realize that there was a corresponding development in 
hospital organization. These two features of medicine 
always go hand in hand. The hospitals, as might be 
expected, preceded the surgical development, and owed 
their great progress at this time mainly to the Popes. 

The city hospital as we have it at the present time, 
that is, the public institution meant for the reception of 
those suffering from accidents, from acute diseases of 
various kinds, and also for providing shelter for those 



who have become ill and have no friends to take care of 
them, is an establishment dating from the beginning of 
the thirteenth century. It will doubtless be a surprise 
to most people to be told that the modem world owes 
this beneficent institution to the fatherly watchfulness, 
the kindly foresight, and the very practical charity of 
one of the greatest of the Popes, whose name is usually 
associated with ambitious schemes for making the Pa- 
pacy a great political power in Europe, rather than as 
the prime mover in what was probably the most far- 
reaching good work of supreme social significance that 
was ever accomplished. 

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, mainly as 
the result of those much abused sources of many bene- 
fits to mankind in the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the 
people of Europe had begun to dwell together in towns 
much more than before. It is closeness of population 
that gives rise to the social needs. While people were 
scattered throughout the country diseases were not so 
prevalent, epidemics were not likely to spread, and the 
charitable spirit of the rural people themselves was quite 
sufiicient to enable them to care for the few ailing per- 
sons to be found. With the advent of even small city 
life, however, came the demand for hospitals in the true 
sense of the word, and this need did not long escape the 
watchful eye of Innocent III. He recognized the neces- 
sity for a city hospital in Rome, and in accordance with 
his very practical character and wonderful activity, at 
once set about its foundation. 

As was to be expected from his wise foresight, he did 
not do so without due consideration. He consulted many 
visitors to Rome and many distinguished medical author- 
ities as to what they considered to be the best conducted 


and most ably managed institution for the care of the 
sick in Europe at that time. Almost by common con- 
sent he was assured that the most successful hospital 
management was to be found at Montpelier. This 
French town near the shores of the Mediterranean had 
succeeded to the medical prestige formerly held by Sa- 
lerno, and was now the favorite place of pilgrimage 
for the nobility and reigning sovereigns of Europe, 
whenever they became so ill that their ordinary medical 
attendants seemed to be able to do nothing for them. 
Pope Innocent was further told that the institution at 
Montpelier which was best conducted was undoubtedly 
the Hospital of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit 

Accordingly, the Pope extended an invitation which, 
under the circumstances, must have been practically a 
command, to Guy or Guide of Montpelier, the adminis- 
trative head to whom the hospital there owed its suc- 
cessful organization, to come to Rome and establish a 
hospital of his order in the Papal capital. He provided 
the order with a sufficient foundation in what is now 
known as the Borgo, not far from the present Vatican. 
On this was erected, at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century, a hospital of the Holy Spirit, which still exists 
there, though, of course, the building has been many 
times renewed since the original foundation. This hos- 
pital of the Holy Spirit soon attained a world-wide repu- 
tation for careful nursing and medical attendance and 
for the discretion with which its surgical cases were 
treated. It was understood that all the ailing picked up 
on the streets should be brought to the hospital, and 
that all the wounded and injured would be welcomed 
there. Besides, certain of the attendants of the hospital 
went out ever>' day to look for any patients who might 


be neglected or be without sufficient care, especially in 
the poorer quarters of the city, and these were also 
transported to the hospital. This old Santo-Spirito hos- 
pital then was exactly the model of our modem city 

Pope Innocent's idea, however, was not to establish a 
hospital at Rome alone, but his fatherly solicitude went 
out to every city in Christendom. In accordance with 
this pre-determined plan, by personal persuasion, by the 
display of an interest in hospital work, and by official 
Papal encouragement he succeeded in having, during his 
own pontificate, a number of hospitals established in all 
parts of the then civilized world on the model of this 
hospital of the Holy Ghost at Rome. The initiative thus 
given proved lasting, and even after the Pontiff's death 
hospitals of the Holy Ghost continued to multiply in 
various parts of Europe, until scarcely a city of any 
importance was without one. 

It is no less a person than Virchow, the greatest of 
modem medical scientists, who has traced the origins of 
the modem CJerman city hospitals back to Innocent and 
given us a list of those which were established during 
the century following his pontificate. Here are the 
names of those towns from Virchow's list in which hos- 
pitals were founded during the thirteenth century in 
Germany alone, which will show very convincingly how 
widespread the hospital establishment movement was : 
Zurich, St. Gallen, Bern, Basel, Constanz, Villingen, 
PfuUendorf, Freiburg, Breisch, Stephansfelden, Oppen- 
heim, Mainz, Speyer, Coblenz (an der Leer), Cologne, 
Crefeld, Ulm, Biberach, Rothenburg, Kirchheim, Mer- 
gentheim, Wimpfen, Reutlingen, Memmingen, Augsburg, 
Rothenburg a. Tauber, Mxinchen, Frankfort a. M., Hox- 


ter, Dortmund, Brandenburg, Spandau,.Salzwedel, Sten- 
dal, Berlin, Perleberg, Pritzwalk, Halberstadt, Halle, 
Quedlinburg, Helmstedt, Magdeburg, Sangerhauson, 
Eisenach, Naumburg, Hanover, Gottingen, Northeim, 
Bremen, Hamburg, Liibeck, Parchim, Wismar, Rostock, 
Schwerin, MoUen, Oldeslo, Ratzelburg, Ribnitz, Stettin, 
Stralsund, Greifswald, Demmin, Anclam, Breslau, Bunz- 
lau, Gorlitz, Brieg, Glatz, Sagan, Steinau, Glogau, In- 
owraclaw, Wien, Meran, Brixen, Sterzing, Elbing, 
Thorn, Konigsberg, Danzig, Marienburg, Riga. 

Many of these towns were comparatively small. In 
fact, there were no cities that we modems would call 
large in the thirteenth century. London had probably 
not more than some twenty thousand ; Paris, even at 
the most flourishing period of the university, under fifty 
thousand. Most of the German towns had less than ten 
thousand, and of these which are the sites of hospital 
foundations mentioned by Virchow, probably not more 
than a dozen, if that many, had more than five thousand 
inhabitants. Since the movement spread even to such 
small towns, it can be readily understood how far-reach- 
ing in its effects was the policy initiated by Innocent 
III. and how thoroughly he laid the secure foundations 
of a great Christian hospital system. 

Since the Papal example and recommendations pro- 
duced so much effect upon Germany, which was not so 
closely united to the Holy See as were the Latin nations, 
it is easy to understand what an impetus to the hospital 
movement must have been given in the southern coun- 
tries, even though we have not had the advantage of so 
patient a collector of information as Virchow to give us 
all the details. In the larger cities hospitals were already 
in existence, and these took on a new life because of the 



hospital movement In Paris, for instance, the Hotel 
Dieu, which had been in existence for some time, be- 
came so cramped for room in its original location, just 
beyond the Petit Pont, that at this time it had to be 
transferred to its present commodious quarters next to 
the Cathedral, on the square of Notre Dame. The hos- 
pital became a city hospital in the genuine sense of the 
word, and the citizens became interested in it to a note- 
worthy degree. It began to be the subject of bequests 
and benefactions of all kinds on the part of the clergy 
and laity, and many interesting details of these benefac- 
tions are still at hand in documents contained in the hos- 
pital archives of Paris. ^ 

There are some curious historical details in these old 
documents, since they serve to show the method in use 
for designating houses at that time when, it must be re- 
called, street numbers had not as yet been invented. 
Most of the houses had on their facades some image or 
figure by which they were known. The Hotel Dieu, for 
instance, acquired during the thirteenth century the 
houses with the image of St. Louis, with the sign of the 
golden lion of Flanders, with the image of the butterfly 
with that of the wolf, with the images of the three 
monkeys, with the image of the iron lion, with the cross 
of gold, with the three chimneys, etc. A certain amount 
for the support of the hospital was allowed out of the 
city revenues, and a favorite method was to permit, in 
times of special stress upon the hospital, the collection 
of a tax on all of a certain commodity that came into the 
city. For a time, for instance, during an epidemic or 
other period of necessity, a hospital would obtain per- 

1 Boidter. Archives Hospitalidres De Paris, Paris ; Champion. Publicatioiis for the 
Society of the History of Paris. 1877. 


mission to collect a tax on all the salt, or, occasionally, 
on all the wheat that entered Paris. This serves to show 
the renewed interest in city hospital affairs that had 
arisen mainly as the result of Papal initiative and en- 

In the smaller towns in Prance there was the same 
hospital movement as characterized the situation in Ger- 
many. In the south, the closeness of Montpelier made 
the example of the ^ospital of the Holy Ghost of that 
city especially forceful In other portions of Prance it 
is well ^nown that the Sisters of the Holy Ghost very 
early established separate hospitals from those founded 
by the Brothers of the Holy Ghost There are records 
of such separate hospitals entirely under the control of 
Sisters in Bar-Sur-Aube, in Neuf-Chateau, and, accord- 
ing to Virchow, at many other places. At the same time, 
however, there still continued to be hospitals of the Holy 
Ghost as at Besancon, where the Brothers and Sisters of 
the Holy Ghost had their institutions in common, though 
there was a distinct separation of the communities and 
allotment of tasks. The Brothers cared rather for the 
surgical cases, while the care of the children and the 
pregnant women was confided to the Sisters. This of 
itself was rather an advantage, since the separation of 
the women and the children from the ordinary hospital 
patients, must have proved an important preventive of 
infection and an ameliorating factor as regards that hos- 
pital atmosphere especially likely to be unfavorable to 
these delicate, sensitive cases. We know now what hos- 
pitalism means for them. 

That the influence of the movement initiated by Inno- 
cent III. was felt even in distant England is very clear, 
from the fact that practically all of the famous old Brit- 


ish hospitals date their existence as institutions for the 
care of the ailing from the thirteenth century. The 
famous St Bartholomew's Hospital in London had been 
a priory founded at the beginning of the twelfth cen- 
tury, which took care of the poor and the destitute sick, 
but at the beginning of the thirteenth century it became, 
in imitation of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit at Rome, 
frankly a hospital in the modem sense of the word. St. 
Thomas's Hospital, which continues to be down to the 
present time one of the great medical institutions of 
London, was founded by Richard, Prior of Bermondsey, 
in 1213. Bethlehem, or as the name was softened in the 
English speech of the people, Bedlam, was founded 
about the middle of the thirteenth century. Originally 
it was a general hospital for the care of the sick of all 
kinds, though in later times it became, as its name has 
come to signify in modem English, a place exclusively 
for the care of the insane. Bedlam, in the fourteenth 
century, and probably also in the later years of the thir- 
teenth, made provision for a certain number of the in- 
sane in addition to other patients, so that it presented 
the accomplishment of that desideratum for which we 
are striving in the twentieth century— a city general 
hospital with psychopathic wards. This arrangement, 
as we have said in the chapter on the Church and the 
Mentally Afflicted, has many advantages over the special 
hospital for the insane, entrance to which, as a mle, re- 
quires tedious formalities. 

Bridewell and Christ's Hospital, the other two of the 
institutions long known as the five royal hospitals of 
London, were either actually founded or received a great 
stimulus and a thorough reorganization during the thir- 
teenth century. In the succeeding centuries Bridewell 


ceased to be a hospital and became a prison, while 
Christ's Hospital, though retaining its name, became a 
school. With some of these institutions the name of 
Edward VI. has become associated, but, as pointed oat 
by Gairdner, the English historical writer, without any 
due warrant Gairdner says in his History of the Eng- 
lish Church in the Sixteenth Century, ** Edward has left 
a name in connection with charities and education which 
critical scholars find to be little justified by fact.'* The 
supposed foundation of St Thomas's Hospital, as he 
points out, was only the re-establishment of this insti- 
tution, "and even when it was granted by Eldwardto 
the citizens of London, it was not without their paying 
for if Many institutions, charitable and educational, 
had been destroyed by Henry VIH., and the crying need 
for them became so great under Edward's reign that 
the government was compelled to provide for their re- 

It is no wonder, with all this activity of the hospital 
foundation movement, that Virchow should have been 
unstinted in his praise of the Pontiff and of the Church 
responsible for the great charity. He said : ** It may be 
recognized and admitted that it was reserved for the 
Roman Catholic Church, and above all for Innocent III., 
not only to open the bourse of Christian charity and 
mercy in all its fulness, but also to guide the life-giving 
stream into every branch of human life in an ordered 
manner. For this reason alone the interest in this man 
and in this time will never die out." 

Even this was not all that he felt bound to say, and in 
his admiration he quite forgot the constant opposition he 
manifested toward the Papacy on all other occasions. 
This happened to be the one feature of Papal influence 


jndeavor that he had investigated most thoroughly, 
3ne is tempted to wonder if like investigation in 
• directions would not have shown him the error of 
idiced views he harbored with regard to other 
2S of the beneficent influence of the Popes in his- 
More knowledge is all that is needed, as a rule, 
rercome all the anti-Papal prejudices founded on 
osed historical grounds. 

ieed, Virchow's tribute to Pope Innocent III. as the 
Ltor of all this humanitarian work is so frank and 
)oken that, coming as it does from a man whose 
)athies with the Papacy were well known to be the 
test, it deserves to be recalled in its completeness, 
der that another factor for the vindication of Inno- 
s character may be better known. The great pa- 
gist said : *'The beginning of the history of all of 
5 German hospitals is connected with the name of 
Pope who made the boldest and farthest-reaching 
apt to gather the sum of human interests into the 
nization of the Catholic Church. The hospitals of 
loly Ghost were one of the many means by which 
cent III. thought to hold humanity to the Holy See. 
surely it was one of the most effective. Was it not 
ilated to create the most profound impression to see 
the mighty Pope, who humbled emperors and de- 
i kings, who was the unrelenting adversary of the 
senses, turned his eyes sympathetically upon the 
and sick, sought the helpless and the neglected 
the streets, and saved the illegitimate children 
. death in the waters ! There is something at once 
iliating and fascinating in the fact, that at the very 
when the fourth crusade was inaugurated through 
ifluence, the thought of founding a great organiza- 


tion of an essentially humane character, which was 
eventually to extend throughout all Christendom, was 
also taking form in his soul ; and that in the same year 
(1204) in which the new Latin Empire was foimded in 
Constantinople, the newly erected hospital of the Holy 
Spirit, by the old bridge on the other side of the Tiber, 
was blessed and dedicated as the future centre of this 
organization." ^ 

The quotation from Virchow gives a good and quite 
comprehensive idea of the scope of these institutions. 
The ailing of all kinds were received beneath their hos- 
pitable roof. In many cases the regulations for the re- 
ception of pregnant women and for the care of the 
foundlings are still extant, besides the hospital rules for 
the care of the various kinds of patients. The depart- 
ment set aside for the foundlings was in most places 
rather an allied institution than an integral part of the 
hospital itself. While these were called findel or found- 
ling houses in Germany, in Italy this harsh name was 
not used, but the institutions were termed hospitals for 
the innocents, thus emphasizing the most pitiable feat- 
ure of the cases of the little patients, and not branding 
them for life with a name that suggested their having 
been abandoned by those who should have cared for 

The regulations for the admission and care of patients 
are interesting as showing how much these medieval in- 
stitutions tried to fulfill the ideal of hospital work. The 
people of the Middle Ages had not as yet suffered all 

i Virchow's article on the German hospitals is to be found in the second volume of 
his collection of essays on Public Medicine and theHistory of Epidemics, which ii^ uh 
fortunately, not translated into Engrlish. so far as 1 know, but will have to be ocm- 
fiulted in the original Gesammelte Abhandlunsren aus dem Gebiete der Oeffentlicben 
Medicin und der Seuchenlehre von Rudolf Virchow. Berlin. 1879. August Hirachwald. 


the disillusionments that come from the abuse of charity 
at the hands of those who least deserve help, and be- 
sides, the attendants at the hospitals were expected to 
do their work for its own sake and from the highest 
motives of Christian benevolence rather than for any 
lesser reward. At the beginning, at least, there seems 
to be no doubt that this lofty purpose was accomplished 
very satisfactorily ; but men and women are only human, 
and after a time there was deterioration. Even Virchow, 
however, was so struck by the ideal conditions that ex- 
isted in these early hospitals that he discussed the ne- 
cessity for having in modem times hospital attendants 
with as unselfish motives as those of the medieval period. 
It seems worth while then to give some of the details of 
this supremely Christian management of hospital work. 

In an article on the medieval hospitals in the Dublin 
Review for October, 1903, Elizabeth Speakman quotes 
from the statutes of various hospitals sufficient to show 
how the internal government of these charitable institu- 
tions was regulated. There was always a porter at the 
main door, usually one of the Brothers or Sisters, who 
had the power to receive patients applying for admis- 
sion. At certain places, however, it seems to have been 
necessary to inform the superior ; and the statutes of 
the French Hospital at Angers say, that the prioress is 
to go herself without delay to receive patients or to send 
one of the Sisters for that purpose, *' not severe or hard, 
but kind of countenance." At the same place the stat- 
utes say, "the number of the sick is not to be defined, 
for the house is theirs, and so all indifferently shall be 
received as far as the resources of the house allow." 

From many of the hospitals members of the commun- 
ity were sent out from day to day to find out if there 


were any lying sick who needed care and who should 
be sent to the hospital. They were expected also to pick 
up any of the infirm whom they might find along the 
streets and bring them to the hospital. The attitude 
which the religious attendants at the hospitals were to 
assume toward the patients upon whom they wait is 
clearly stated. In nearly all of the French hospitals of 
the thirteenth century, at least, the statutes in this 
matter do not differ much from this specimen : 

*' When the patient arrives he shall be received thus : 
First, having confessed his sins to the priest, he shall 
be communicated religiously and afterward be carried 
to bed and treated there as our Lord, according to the 
resources of the house ; each day, before the repast of 
the brethren, he shall be given food with charity, and 
each Sunday the epistle and gospel shall be read and 
aspersion with holy water made with procession." 

As is noted by Miss Speakman, all through the hos- 
pital statutes of these times the name of Masters or 
Lords is applied to the patients. The expression in Old 
French is Les Seignors Malades. The ordinary name 
for hospital was Maison Dieu, which has been well trans- 
lated ''God's Hostelry.'' It is evident, then, though 
the origin of the phrase ''Our Lords the Poor," as ap- 
plied to hospital patients, has been said to be obscure, 
that it is only a re-echo of the scriptural expression. 
"Whatsoever ye shall do, even to the least of these, be- 
hold ye do it unto Me. " A quotation which was empha- 
sized in the old rule of St. Benedict, promulgated for the 
treatment of those received into the hospitality of the 
Benedictine monasteries, "All guests shall be received 
as Christ, who Himself has said, ' I was a stranger and 
ye took Me in.' " 


In modem times, the necessity for providing for pa- 
tients whatever within reason they may long for has 
often been insisted on. It is curiously interesting to find 
a striking anticipation of this very modem rule in the 
customs of these old-time hospitals. As a result of the 
attitude of supreme good will toward patients, there is 
an injunction in many hospital statutes, that whatever 
the patient may desire, if it can be obtained and is not 
bad for him, shall be given to him until he is restored to 
health. The Knights Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusa- 
lem followed the injunction so carefully and endeavored 
to satisfy even whims of their patients that might seem 
unreasonable to such an extent, that their conduct in 
the matter became proverbial and gave rise to at least 
one pretty legend, the hero of which is no less a person- 
age than the famous Eastern Sultan of the later Crusade 

"Saladin desiring to prove for himself this reputed 
indulgence of the knights to their patients, disguised 
himself as a pilgrim and was received among the sick in 
the hospital in Jerusalem. He refused all food, declar- 
ing that there was only one thing that he fancied, and 
that he knew they would not give him. On being 
pressed, he confessed that it was one of the feet of the 
horse of the Grand Master. The latter, on being ac- 
quainted with this fact, ordered that the noble animal 
should be killed and the sick stranger's desire satisfied. 
Saladin at this point, thinking the experiment had gone 
far enough, declared himself taken with a repugnance to 
it, so the animal was spared.'' 

Virchow studied very faitlifully the management of 
these medieval hospitals, and was evidently quite im- 
pressed with the success with which difficulties had been 


met and overcome. None knew better than he all the 
difficulties there were in hospital management, for dur- 
ing nearly fifty years he had been identified with many 
hospitals, from city charily institutions to the various 
kinds needed for war and those erected in connection 
with imiversities for teaching purposes. He had very 
little patience with religious formulae, and was indeed a 
typical agnostic Notwithstanding this, he has been 
perfectly frank in confessing how much is accomplished 
by the religious management of the hospitiEds, and even 
did not hesitate to declare that if hospitals for the poor 
particularly, are to be successfully managed, there must 
be a change in the view-point of those who take up the 
work of hospital nursing, and the attendants must come 
from better social classes than is at present the custom. 
(This is of course for Germany. ) 

The question as to whether secular or religious man- 
agement of hospitals shall prevail has not been as yet 
absolutely decided, and this adds to the value of Vir- 
chow's opinion. No one knew better than he of the 
many sacrifices required if the patients are to be prop- 
erly cared for. Himself, as I have said, utterly without 
religion, it is curious to see how he recognizes the bene- 
fit that religious motives confer upon the management 
of a hospital, and how much better the work is likely to 
be done by those who give themselves up to the care of 
the sick as a Christian duty. He says : 

*'The general hospital is the real purpose of our time, 
and anyone who takes up service in it must give himself 
up to it from the purest of humanitarian motives. The 
hospital attendant must, at least morally and spiritually, 
see in the patient only the helpless and suffering man, 
his brother and his neighbor ; and in order to be able to 


do this he must have a warm heart, an earnest devotion, 
and a true sense of duty. There is in reality scarcely 
any human occupation that brings so immediately with 
it its own reward, or in which the feeling of personal 
contentment comes from thorough accomplishment of 

** But so far as the accomplishment of the task set one 
is concerned, the attendant in the hospital has ever and 
anon new demands made upon him and a new task im- 
posed. One patient lies next the other, and when one 
departs another comes in his place. 

"From day to day, from week to week, from year to 
year, always the same work, over and over again, only 
forever for new patients. This tires out the hospital at- 
tendant Then the custom of seeing suffering weakens 
the enthusiasm and lessens the sense of duty. There is 
need of a special stimulus in order to reawaken the old 
sympathy. Whence shall this be obtained— from relig- 
ion or from some temporal reward ? In trying to solve 
this problem we are standing before the most difficult 
problem of modem hospital management. Before us lie 
the paths of religious and simple care for the sick. We 
may say at once that the proper solution has not yet 
been found. 

** It may be easy, from an impartial but one-sided view 
of the subject, to say that the feeling of duty, of devo- 
tion, even of sacrifice, is by no means necessarily de- 
I)endent on the hope of religious reward, nor the expec- 
tation of material remuneration. Such a point of view, 
however, I may say at once, such a freedom of good 
will, such a warmth of sjnnpathy from purely human 
motives as would be expected in these conditions, are 
only to be found in very unaccustomed goodness of dis- 


position, or an extent of ethical education such as cannot 
be found in most of those who give themselves at the 
present time to the services of the sick in the hospitals. 
If pure humanity is to be a motive, then other circles of 
society must be induced to take part in the care of the 
sick. Our training schools for nurses must teach very 
differently to what they do at present, if the care of the 
sick in municipal hospitals shall compare favorably with 
that given them in religious institutions. Our hospitals 
must become transformed into true humanitarian insti- 

While some of this striking opinion of Virchow's was 
derived from personal experience with hospitals man- 
aged by religious, it must not be forgotten that such 
hospitals are rarer in Germany, at least in the north, 
than almost anjrwhere else in the world. His opportun- 
ities then were limited, and undoubtedly much of his 
favorable persuasions in this regard was founded on his 
investigation of conditions as he had learned to know 
them in the old-time hospitals of the later Middle Ages. 
The traditions as to the treatment of patients in these 
early times are such as to make us believe that hospital 
attendants did take their work seriously from a very 
lofty motive, and that while medicine and surgery were 
much less effective than in more modern times, the ten- 
der care of patients did as much as was possible to make 
inevitable suffering more bearable, and to keep the sight 
of painfully approaching death from being a source of 
discouragement and even of despair. 

We have the best evidence, that of a contemporary, as 
to the conditions which obtained in these medieval hos- 
pitals, and the dispositions of the attendants as regards 
their religious duties would seem to be an unmistakable 


index as to their willingness to sacrifice their own com- 
fort for the sake of the patients. The well known 
Jacques de Vitry, who had been Bishop of Acre and 
afterwards Cardinal, and whose wide travel had given 
him many opportunities to judge for himself, said : 

"There are innumerable congregations, both of men 
and women, renouncing the world and living regularly 
in leper houses and hospitals of the poor, humbly and de- 
voutly ministering to the poor and the infirm. They live 
according to the rule of St Augustine, without property 
and in community and under obedience to one above 
them ; and having assumed the regular habit, they prom- 
ise to God perpetual continence. The men and women, 
with all reverence and chastity, eat and sleep apart 
The canonical hours, as far as hospitality and the care 
of the poor of Christ allow, by day and night they at- 
tend. In houses where there is a large congregation of 
brethren and sisters, they congregate frequently in 
chapter for the correction of faults and other causes. 
Readings from Holy Scriptures are frequently made 
during meals, and silence is maintained during meals in 
the refectory and other fixed places and at certain times. 
. . . . Their chaplains, ministering in spiritual mat^ 
ters with all humility and devotion to the infirm, instruct 
the ignorant in the word of divine preaching, console 
the faint-hearted and weak, and exhort them to patience 
and to correspond to the action of grace. They celebrate 
divine office in the common chapel assiduously by day 
and night so that the sick can hear from their beds. 
Confession and extreme unction and the other sacra- 
ments they administer diligently and solicitously to the 
sick, and to the dead they give due burial. These min- 
isters of Christ sober and sparing to themselves and 


very strict and severe to their bodies, overflowing with 
charity to the poor and infirm and ministering with ten- 
der heart to their necessities according to their powers, 
are all the more lowly in the House of God as they were 
of high rank in the world. They bear for Christ's sake 
such unclean and almost intolerable things, that I do not 
think any other can be compared to this martyrdom, 
holy and precious in the sight of God." 

It might perhaps be thought that these hospitals of 
the Middle Ages would be of very little interest to the 
modem student of things social and medical except for 
the fact, surprising enough in itself at this time of sup- 
posed neglect of social duties, when the paternal spirit 
of the municipality is presumed scarcely to have devel- 
oped as yet, that such institutions were provided. It 
would ordinarily be assumed that they were, in accord- 
ance with the lack of knowledge of the time as regards 
the influence of light and air on the ailing, dingy and 
unventilated, lacking most of the qualities that distin- 
guish our modem hospital. As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, just as our architects go back to the Middle Ages 
to get models for our churches and municipal buildings, 
and even our millionaires' palaces and public institutions, 
they also find that in the matter of hospitals much valu- 
able guidance is to be obtained from what was accom- 
plished by these people of the Middle Ages, of whom we 
ordinarily think so little. Mr. Arthur Dillon, an archi- 
tect, writing in the ''Mail and Express" for May 7th, 
1904, described the hospital founded by Marguerite of 
Bourgogne, the sister of St. Louis, at Tanierre in France 
in 1293. It consisted of a ward, a building attached to 
it by a covered passage in which Marguerite herself 
lived for many years, and separate buildings for kitch- 


ens, for storage of provisions and for the lodging of the 
twenty monks and nuns who had charge of the sick. A 
feature that perhaps we would not admire very much, 
was that adjacent to the buildings there was a cemetery. 
They were not so fearful about death in the Middle Ages, 
however, as we are apt to be ; and who shall say that the 
contemplation of it did not often give that restful sense 
of submission to whatever would come, that sometimes 
means so much in serious illness, and keeps the patient 
from still further exhausting vitality by worrying as to 
the outcome ? The medicine was stronger than our de- 
generate generation might be able to bear, but then all 
their medicines were apt to be stronger in that time. 

The situation of the hospital might well be thought 
ideal. The princess had gardens about her lodging, and 
the whole property was surrounded by a high wall, along 
which flowed the branches of a small stream, which 
doubtless tempered the atmosphere and served as a car- 
rier off of much undesirable material. The hospital 
ward itself was 55 feet wide and 270 feet long and had 
a high arched ceiling of wood. It was lighted by large 
I)ointed windows high up in the walls. At the level of 
the window-sills, some twelve feet from the floor, a nar- 
row gallery ran along the wall, from which the ventila- 
tion through the windows might be readily regulated 
and on which convalescent patients might walk or be 
seated in the sunshine. The beds were placed each in a 
little room formed by low partitions. Privacy was thus 
secured much better than in the modem hospital wards, 
and as there were only forty beds, the ventilation was 

Mr. Dillon, from the standpoint of the architect, says 
of it: 


''It was an admirable hospital in every way, and it is 
doubtful if we to-day surpass it It was isolated, the 
ward was separated from the other buildings, it had the 
advantage we so often lose of being but one story high, 
and more space was given to each patient than we can 
now afford. 

''The ventilation by the great windows and ventilar 
tors in the ceiling was excellent ; is was cheerfoDy 
lighted, and the arrangement of the gallery shielded 
the patients from dazzling light and from draughts from 
the windows and afforded an easy means of supervisicm, 
while the division by the roofless, low partitions isolated 
the sick and obviated the depression that comes from 
the sight of others in pain. 

"It was, moreover, in great contrast to the cheerless 
white wards of to-day. The vaulted ceiling was very 
beautiful ; the woodwork was richly carved, and the 
great windows over the altars were filled with colored 
glass. Altogether, it was one of the best examples of 
the best period of Gothic architecture.*' 

Probably the most interesting feature of the early his- 
tory of the hospital movement is the spirit of evolution 
to meet growing needs and developing ideals which it 
manifested. In spite of the judicious consideration de- 
voted to the establishment of the original hospital of the 
Holy Ghost at Rome, it was not long before it proved 
inadequate for its purpose. One of the eminently note- 
worthy things that constantly repeat themselves in his- 
tory is that where a social need is discovered and a 
remedy found for it, it is not long before the need in- 
creases to such a degree as to outstrip the original rem- 
edy. Before half a century had passed Innocent's suc- 
cessors declared in unmistakable terms that the original 


hospital was entirely too cramped and crowded. Ac- 
cordingly, a much larger and handsomer building was 
erected. Visitors to Rome admired the new building, 
and it proved an incentive for larger plans for hospital? 
in other important cities. At the end of the thirteenth 
and the beginning of the fourteenth centuries some 
really imposing edifices were erected as hospitals, espe- 
cially in towns of Italy. It was at this time that the 
artistic Italian mind seems to have realized the truth, 
which has only come to be recognized again in quite re- 
cent times, that a hospital building should be as fine a 
structure as the finances of a city will permit It was 
felt that nothing was too good for the ailing citizens and 
that the city honored itself by making its public build- 
ings a monument of artistic purpose. The earliest ex- 
ample of how well this was accomplished is to be found 
at Siena, whose hospital continues to be down to the 
present time one of the most interesting objects of ad- 
miration for the visitor. Portions of this Siena hospital 
as it now exists were built as early as the last decade of 
the thirteenth and the first decade of the fourteenth 
century. It was during the first half of the fourteenth 
century that it was resolved to make the building as 
beautiful in the interior by means of great artistic dec- 
oration and frescoes as it was imposing on the exterior. 
It was not for a century and a half later that Milan's 
magnificent hospital took on its modem shape, though 
the city had been always famous for its care of the sick. 
The hospital movement of the thirteenth century, how- 
ever, culminated in monuments as famous and as archi- 
tecturally beautiful as any that have been built in recent 
To take, for example, that of Siena, a good descrip- 


tion of which may be found m The Story of Si^ia, by 6. 
Gardner. (Dent, London, 1902.) The buildings occupy 
the whole side of the Piazzo del Duomo, directly opposite 
the facade. They constitute abnost as strikinsr a bit of 
architecture as any edifice of the period, and contain a 
magnificent set of frescoes, some of them of the four- 
teenth century, many others of later centuries. The 
Siena school of painting in the fourteenth century was 
doing some of the best art work of the tune, and as a 
consequence the hospital has been of perennial inter- 
est Artists and amateurs and dilettante visitors have 
gladly spent time in studying and admiring its artistic 
treasures at nearly all times, but more especially in re- 
cent years. The sympathetic admiration for its art has 
led to a better appreciation of the motives of the gener- 
ation that built it, than even the sublime humanitarian 
purpose which dictated it or the work for suffering hu- 
manity which it accomplished. 

It is typical of the times in many ways. We have only 
just begun again in very modem times, as we have al- 
ready said, to consider that some of the best of our 
buildings in any large city should be those intended for 
the sick and the poor of the community. The city must 
respond nobly to its civic duties. The idea, however, 
came so naturally to the medieval mind that api>arentiy 
there was no question about it Only in very recent 
years has come the additional thought that these build- 
ings must be appropriately decorated, and that the work 
of the greatest artists of the time can have no better 
place for its display than the walls of a hospital or a 
great charitable institution. Bartolo's frescoes, on the 
walls of the hospital at Siena, tell the story of the work 
that was done for foundlings and pilgrims as well as for 


the sick in the early days of its establishment The 
first picture of the series represents the baptism of the 
children that had been picked up and brought to the 

It is characteristic of the times, too, that one of the 
greatest pictures on the hospital walls is not something 
that makes for the glory of the trustees or the founders, 
nor that is some fancy of the painter, some study of 
myth or landscape, in which he might have been es- 
pecially interested. Probably the masterpiece of the 
old painters is the Scala del Paradiso (the stairs to 
heaven), by Vecchietta. The picture was evidently 
painted for the department of the foundlings, and its 
subject is the ascent of these little children to heaven 
and their welcome by the angels and saints and by the 
Heavenly Father. A more inspiring vision to be im- 
pressed upon the minds of these growing children who 
had been abandoned by their own, and who must have 
felt all of their loneliness in spite of their favorable sur- 
roundings, could scarcely have been imagined. 

The dedication of the hospital is expressed in terms 
very typical of the Middle Ages, or as they might better 
be called, "The Ages of Faith." It reminds one of the 
formal terms of wills, as they used to be worded in 
olden times: "In the Name of God, Amen. To the 
honor, praise and reverence of God and of His Mother, 
Madonna, Holy Mary Virgin, and of all the saints of 
God, and to the honor and exaltation of Holy Mother 
Church and of the Commune and of the people of the 
city of Siena, and to its good and pacific state, and to 
the increase of the Hospital of Madonna, Holy Mary 
Virgin, of Siena, which is placed in front of the chief 
church of the city, and to the recreation of the sick and 


the foundlings of the said hospital " This dedication is 
to be found at the beginning of the statutes of the hos- 
pital as they were formulated in 1305. 

The hospital did excellent service, and most of the 
original building has remained down to our own day. It 
has seen many times of trial for the citizens of Siena, 
and has proved its ruefulness. Twice during the four- 
teenth century it saw the coming of the Black Death, 
and its wards and corridors and every room were filled 
with the dead and the dying. During the fourteenth 
century St Catherine of Siena spent much of her time 
in the hospital, and it was her work here that gave her 
the glorious prestige that came so unlooked for. The 
special confraternity with which she was associated met 
in one of the smaller rooms of the hospital Attached 
to the hospital there was a special house for lepers, and 
this was one of the favorite places for St Catherine's 
visitations. It is not surprising to find that she was, at 
the beginning at least, very much opposed by her family 
in her choice of such an occupation as this personal de- 
votion to the poor and the sick. In reading the story, 
one is reminded of the opposition that is sometimes 
evoked at the present time when young women feel the 
necessity for some occupation other than so-called social 
duties, and take to slum visiting, or the care of the cancer 
poor, or some other form of practical aid for the needy, 
apart from the giving of money, or of doing a little sew- 
ing in a Lenten class, supposed to be the limit of their 
charitable work in their special social circle. 

It is of curious interest, though not surprising, to find 
that in the midst of the organization of new hospitals 
and reorganization of old hospital foundations in the 
thirteenth century, attempts were made to correct 


abuses which still continue to be some of the thorny 
problems of hospital management For instance, the 
danger was recognized of having the expenses of ad- 
ministration outrun those of the hospital proper, and of 
having the number of attendants, or at least of persons 
living upon the hospital revenues, greater than was ab- 
solutely needed for the care of patients. There are 
various Papal decrees and decisions of diocesan synods 
in this matter. Pope Honorius III., who occupied the 
Pax)al See from 1216 to 1227, and must be considered as 
a very worthy successor of the first great Pope of the 
century, Innocent III., in approving the union of two 
hospital foundations at Ghent, required that only a cer- 
tain limited number of Brothers and Sisters for nursing 
purposes should be received, in order that the commun- 
ity expenses proper might not impair to too great a de- 
gree the resources of the hospital for its real purpose of 
taking care of patients. Previously, he had insisted by 
a decree that the number of Brothers and Sisters in the 
hospital community at Louvain should not exceed the 
proportion of more than one to nine of the patients. 
Synodal decrees in various bishoprics allowed only board 
and clothing, but nothing more, to attendants in hos- 
pitals. In the thirteenth century the personal satisfac- 
tion of accomplishing a charitable work in attendance 
upon the sick was expected to make up for any f xirther 

The other serious problem of hospital management 
was to keep those not really suffering from serious dis- 
ease, malingerers of various kinds, from occupying beds 
and claiming attention, to the deprivation of those who 
were genuinely ill. Various regulations were made 
looking to the careful examinations of such persons, 


though in most places with the affinnation of a standing 
rule, that all those complaininfi: of illness were to be re- 
ceived into the hospital for at least one day, until their 
cases could be examined with sufficient care to decide 
how much of reality and how much of simulation there 
might be in their pretended symptoms. The tramp^ of 
course, has always been in the world, and probably al- 
ways will be, and so what are called the sturdy va- 
grants (validi vagrantes) received the special attention 
of those wishing to eliminate hospital abuses, and vari- 
ous decrees were made in order to prevent themfrom re- 
ceiving sustenance from the hospitals, or in any other way 
abusing the privileges of these charitable institutions. 

A hospital movement, quite distinct from that of In* 
nocent III., which attracted so much attention shortly 
after the general hospital became common as to deserve 
particular consideration, was the erection of the lepro- 
series or special institutions for the care of lepers. 
Leprosy had become quite common in Europe during the 
Middle Ages, and the continued contact of the West 
with the East during the crusades had brought about a 
notable increase of the disease. It is not definitely 
known how much of what was called leprosy at that time, 
really belonged to the specific disease now known as 
lepra. There is no doubt that many affections, which 
have since come to be considered as quite harmless and 
non-contagious, were included under the designation 
leprosy by the populace and even physicians incapable 
as yet of making a proper differential diagnosis. Prob- 
ably severe cases of eczema and other chronic skin dis- 
eases, especially when complicated by the results of 
wrongly directed treatment or of lack of cleansing, were 
not infrequently pronounced to be true leprosy. 


There is no doubt at all, however, of the occurrence 
of real leprosy in many of the towns of the West from 
the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, and the erection 
of these hospitals proved the best possible prophylatic 
against the further spread of the disease. Leprosy is 
contagious, but only mildly so. Years of intimate asso- 
ciation with a leper may, and usually do, bring about the 
communication of the disease to those around them, 
especially if they do not exercise rather carefully, cer- 
tain precise precautions as to cleanliness after personal 
contact or after the handling of things which have previ- 
ously been in the leper's possession. As the result of 
the existence of these houses of segregation, leprosy 
disappeared during the course of the next three centur- 
ies, and thus a great hygienic triumph was obtained by 
sanitary regulation. 

This successful sanitary and hygienic work, which 
brought about practically the complete obliteration of 
leprosy in the Middle Ages, furnished the first example 
of the possibility of eradicating a disease that has once 
become a serious scourge to mankind. That this should 
have been accomplished by a movement that had its 
greatest source in the thirteenth century is all the more 
surprising, since we are usually accustomed to think of 
the people of the times as sadly lacking in any interest 
in sanitary matters. The role of the Popes in the mat- 
ter is another striking feature well worthy of note. The 
significance of the success of this segregation method 
was lost upon men down almost to our own time. This 
was unfortunately because it was considered that most 
of the epidemic diseases were conveyed by the air. They 
were thought infectious and due to a climatic condition 
rather than contagious, that is, conveyed by actual con- 


tact with the person having the disease or somethinsr 
that had touched him, which is the view now held. 
With the beginning of the crusade against tuberculosis 
in the later nineteenth century, however, the most en- 
couraging factor for those engaged in it was the history 
of the success of segregation methods and careful pre- 
vention of the spread of the disease, which had been 
pursued against leprosy. In a word, the lessons in 
sanitation and prophylaxis of the thirteenth century are 
only now bearing fruit because the intervening centuries 
did not have sufficient knowledge to realize their import 
and take advantage of them. 

Pope Innocent III. was not the only occupant of the 
Papal throne whose name deserves to be remembered 
with benedictions in connection with the hospital move- 
ment of the thirteenth century. His successor took up 
the work of encouragement where Innocent had left it 
at his death, and did much to bring about the successful 
accomplishment of his intentions in the ever wider 
spheres. Honorius III. is distinguished by having made 
into an order the Antonine Congregation of Vienna, 
which was especially devoted to the care of patients 
suffering from the **holy fire '' and from various mutila- 
tions. The disease known as the holy fire seems to have 
been what is called in modem times erysipelas. During 
the Middle Ages it received various titles, such as St 
Anthony's fire, St. Francis's fire, and the like, the latter 
part of the designation evidently being due to the strik- 
ing redness which characterizes the disease, and which 
can be compared to nothing better than the intense ery- 
thema consequent upon a rather severe bum. This af- 
fection was much more common in the Middle Ages than 
in later times, though it must not be forgotten that its 


disappearance has come mainly in the last twenty-five 
years. It is now known to be a contagious disease, and 
indeed, as Oliver Wendell Holmes pointed out over half 
a century ago, may readily be carried from place to 
place by the physician in attendance. It does not al- 
ways manifest itself as erysipelas when thus carried,* 
however, and the merit of Dr. Holmes's work was in 
pointing out the fact that physicians who attended pa- 
tients suffering from erysipelas and then waited on ob- 
stetrical cases, were especially likely to carry the affec- 
tion, which manifested itself as puerperal fever. A 
number of cases of this kind were reported and dis- 
cussed by him, and there is no doubt that his warning 
served to save many precious lives. 

Of course nothing of this was known in the thirteenth 
century ; yet the encouragement given to this religious 
order which devoted itself practically exclusively to the 
care in special hospitals of erysipelas, must have had 
no little effect in bringing about a limitation of the 
spread of the disease. In such hospitals patients were 
not likely to come in contact with many persons, and 
consequently the contagion-radius of the disease was 
limited. In our own time, immediate segregation of 
cases when discovered has practically eradicated it, so 
that many a young physician, even though ten years in 
practice, has never seen a case of it. It was so common 
during the CiviJ War and for half a century -before that 
here in America, that there were frequent epidemics of 
it in hospitals, and it was generally recognized that the 
disease was so contagious, that when it once gained a 
foothold in a hospital ward nearly every patient suffer- 
ing from an open wound was likely to be affected by it. 

It is interesting then to learn that these people of the 


Middle Ages attempted to control the disease by erect- 
ing special hospitals for it, though unfortunately we are 
not in a position to know just how much was accom- 
plished by these means. A congregation devoted to the 
special care of the disease had been organized, as we 
^ave said, early in the thirteenth century. At the end 
of this century this was given the full weight of his 
amplest approval by Pope Boniface VIII., who conferred 
on it the privilege of having priests among its members 
It will be remembered that Pope Boniface VIII. is said 
to have issued the bull which forbade the practice of 
dissection. That bull only regulated, as I have shown, 
the abuse which had sprung up of dismembering bodies 
and boiling them in order to be able to carry them to a 
distance for burial, which was in itself an excellent 
hygienic measure. His encouragement of the special re- 
ligious order for the care of erysipelas must be set down 
to his credit as another sanitary benefit conferred on his 

Many orders for the care of special needs of humanity 
were established during the thirteenth century. It is 
from this period that most of the religious habits worn 
by women originate. They used to be considered rather 
cumbersome for such a serious work as the nursing and 
care of the sick, but in recent years quite a different view 
has been taken. The covering of the head, for instance, 
and the shearing of the hair must have been of distinct 
value in preventing the communication of contagious dis- 
eases. There has been a curious assimilation in the last 
few years of the dress required to be worn by nurses in 
operating rooms to that worn by most of the religious 
communities. The head must be completely covered and 
the garments worn are of material that can be washed. 


It will be recalled that the head-dress of religious being, 
as a rule, of white, on which the slightest speck shows, 
must be renewed frequently, and therefore must be kept 
in a condition of what is practically surgical cleanliness. 
While this was not at all the intention of those who 
adopted the particular style of head-dress worn by re- 
ligious, yet their choice has proved, in what may well 
be considered a Providential way, an excellent protec- 
tive for the patients on whom they waited, against cer- 
tain dangers that would inevitably have been present, 
if their dress had been the ordinary one of the women 
of their class, during these many centuries of hospital 
nursing by religious women. 

In a word, then, all the features which characterize 
our modem hospitals, found a place in the old-time in- 
stitutions for the care of the ailing, which we owe to the 
initiative of the Church and religious orders, and above 
all, the Popes. While we are accustomed to hear these 
old-time institutions spoken of slightingly, that is be- 
cause our knowledge of them was not as detailed as it 
should be, until the recent interest in things medieval 
revealed many details previously misunderstood. The 
hospitals of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries were much better than those of subsequent 
centuries down practically to our own time. The reason 
for this decadence is rather complex, but it evidently oc- 
curred in spite of the Church and the Popes. Much of 
it was due to the fact that, particularly in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, the political governments in- 
terfered in the work of charity and hospital manage- 
ment, and always to the detriment of it. The greatest 
triumph of the Church during the earlier centuries is 
to be found in the magnificent organization of the hos- 


pital qrstem and the anticipation of so many things in 
the organization of hospital work, the care of podentB 
and even the prevention of contagious disease, that we 
are apt to think of as essentially moderiL 


There is a very generally accepted false impression 
with regard to the attitude maintained by the Church 
during the Middle Ages, especially toward what is known 
as the experimental method in the gaining of knowledge, 
or as we would now say, in the study of science. It is 
conunonly supposed that at least before the sixteenth 
century, though of course in modem times it has had to 
change its attitude to accord with the advances of modem 
science, the Church was decidedly opposed to the experi- 
mental method, and that the great ecclesiastical schol- 
ars of the wonderful period of the rise of the univer- 
sities were all absolute in their confidence in authority 
and their dependence on the deductive method as the 
only means of arriving at truth. This widespread false 
impression owes its existence and persistence to many 

It is supposed by many of those outside the Church that 
there is a distinct incompatibility between the state of 
mind which accepts things on faith and that other in- 
tellectual attitude which leads man to doubt about his 
knowledge and consequently to inquire. This doubting 
frame of mind, which is readily recognized to be abso- 
lutely necessary for the proper pursuit of experimental 
science, is supposed quite to preclude the idea of the 
peaceful settlement of the doubts that assail men's minds 
as to the significance of life, of the relation of man to 
man and to his Creator, and the hereafter, which comes 



with the acceptance of what revelation has to say on 
these subjects. Somehow, it is assumed by many 
people that there is something: mutually and essentially 
repellent in these two forms of assent If a man is 
ready to accept certain propositions on authority and 
without being: able to understand them, and still more, 
if he accept them, realizing that he cannot understand 
them, it is considered to be impossible for him to be 
able to assume such a mental attitude towards science 
as would make him an original investigator. . 

It is almost needless to say to anyone who knows any- 
thing about the history of modem science— even nine- 
teenth century science, that there is absolutely no foun- 
dation for this prejudice. Most of our greatest investi- 
gators even in nineteenth century science have been 
faithful believers not only in the ordinary religious 
truths, in a Providence, in a hereafter, and in this life 
as a preparation for another, but also in the great mys- 
teries of revelation. I have shown this amply even with 
regard to what is usually considered so unorthodox a 
science as medicine, in my volume on the Makers of 
Modem Medicine. Most of the men who did the great 
original work in last century medicine were Catholics. 
The same thing is tme for electricity, for example. All 
the men after whom modes and units of electricity are 
named— Gal vani, Volta, Coulomb, Ampere, Ohm—were 
not only members of the Church, but what would be 
even called devout Catholics. 

A second and almost as important a reason for the 
superstition— for it is a supposed tmth accepted without 
good reasons therefor— that somehow the Church was 
opposed to the inductive or experimental method, is the 
persistent belief which, in spite of frequent contradic- 


tions, remains in the minds of so many scientists, that 
the inductive or experimental method was introduced to 
the world by Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, 
at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Bacon 
himself was a Protestant ; he did not do his writing 
until the reformation so-called had been at work in 
Europe for nearly a century, and somehow it is supposed 
that these facts are linked together as causes and effects. 
The reason why such a formulation of the inductive 
method had not come before was because this was for- 
bidden ground ! Nothing could be less true than that 
Lord Bacon had any serious influence in bringing about 
the introduction of the inductive method into science. 
At most he was a chronicler of tendencies that he saw 
in the science of his day. It is true that his writings 
served to give a certain popular vogue to the inductive 
method, or rather a certain exaggerated notion of the 
import of experiment to those who were not themselves 
scientists. Bacon was a popular writer on science, not 
an original thinker or worker in the experimental 
sciences. Popularizers in science, alas! have from 
Amerigo Vespucci down reaped the rewards due to the 
real discoverers. 

Induction in the genuine significance of the word had 
been recognized in the world long before Bacon's time 
and been used to much better effect than he was able to 
apply it Personally, I have always felt that he has 
almost less right to all the praise that has been bestowed 
on him for what he is supposed to have done for science, 
than he has for any addition to his reputation because of 
the attribution to him by so many fanatics of the author- 
ship of Shakespeare's plays. It is rather difficult to 
understand how his reputation ever came about Lord 


Macaulay is much more responsible for it than is usually 
thought ; his brilliancy often overreached itself or went 
far beyond truth ; his favorite geese were nearly always 
swans, in his eyes. 

De Maistre, in his review of Bacon's Novum Oisanum, 
points out that this work is replete with prejudices ; that 
Bacon makes glaring blunders in astronomy, in logic, in 
metaphysics, in physics, in natural history, and fills the 
pages of his work with childish observations, trifling ex- 
periments, and ridiculous explanations. Our own Pn>- 
fessor Draper, in his Intellectual Development of 
Europe, has been even more severe, and has especially 
pointed out that Bacon never received the Copemican 
System, but ''with the audacity of ignorance he pre- 
sumed to criticise what he did not understand* and with 
a superb conceit disparaged the great Copemicua"— 
''The more closely we examine the writings of Xord 
Bacon," he says farther on, "the more unworthy does 
he seem to have been of the great reputation which has 
been awarded to him. . . The popular delusion, to 
which he owes so much, originated at a time when the 
history of science was unknown. This boasted founder 
of a new philosophy could not comprehend* and would 
not accept the greatest of all scientific discoveries when 
it was plainly set before his eyes." 

As a student of the history of medicine, it has always 
been especially irritating to me to hear Francis Bacon's 
name heralded as the Father of Experimental Sdenca 
Literally hundreds of physicians had applied the ex- 
perimental method in its perfect form to many probleras 
in medicine and surgery during at least three centuries 
or more before Bacon's time. They did not need to 
have the principles of it set forth for them by this 


publicist, who knew how to write about scientific 
method, but did not know how to apply it, so far as we 
know anjrthing about him ; and who was utterly unable 
to see the great discoveries that had been made by the 
experimental method in the century before his time, and 
refused to accept such great advances in science as were 
made by Copernicus and others. Some two score of 
years before Bacon wrote, in England itself, the great 
Gilbert of Colchester, who was elected the president of 
the Royal College of Physicians for the year 1600, and 
who was physician-in-ordinary to Queen Elizabeth, had 
applied the experimental method to such good purpose 
that he well deserves the title that has been conferred 
upon him of Father of Electricity. 

There was never a more purely experimental scientist 
than Gilbert His work, De Magnete, is one of the 
great contributions to experimental science. Anyone 
who thinks that experiments came only after Lord 
Bacon's time should read this wonderful work, which is 
at the foundation of modem electricity. For twenty 
years, from 1580 to 1600, Gilbert spent all the leisure 
that he could snatch from his professional duties, in his 
laboratory. He notes down his experiments— his failures 
as well as his successes— -discusses them very thoroughly, 
suggests explanations of success and failure, hits upon 
methods of control, but pursues the solution of the 
problems he has in hand ever further and further. As 
a biographer said of him, ''we find him toiling in his 
work-shop at Colchester quite as Faraday toiled, more 
flian two hundred years later, in the low dark rooms of 
the Royal Institution of Great Britain." Faraday was 
actuated by no more calm, persevering, inquiring spirit 
than was Gilbert To say that any Englishman invented 


or taught the world the application of the experimental 
method in science after Gilbert's time is to talk 

Yet it was of this great scientific observer that Lord 
Bacon, carried away by ill-feeling and jealousy of a con- 
temporary, went so far as tQ say in his De Aiigmentis 
Scientiarum, that Gilbert "had attempted to found a 
general system upon the magnet, and endeavored to 
build a ship out of materials not sufficient to make the 
rowing-pins of a boat. " When Bacon refused to accept 
Copemicus's teachings, he did not commit a greater er- 
ror, nor do a greater wrong to mankind, than when he 
made little of Gilbert of Colchester's work. Poggendorf 
called Gilbert the ** Galileo of Magnetism " and Priestley 
hailed him as the ''founder of modem electricity." 
When Gilbert did the work on which these titles are 
founded, however, he was only following out the meth- 
ods which had been introduced into England long before, 
and which had been exemplified so thoroughly all during 
the life of Friar Bacon, and of Friar Bacon's great 
teacher, Albertus Magnus. One would expect that at 
least in science credit would be given properly, and that 
the false notions introduced by litterateurs and histori- 
ans of politics should not be allowed to dominate the 

The position popularly assigned to Bacon in the his- 
tory of science is indeed one of those history lies, as the 
Germans so bluntly but frankly call them, which, though 
very generally accepted, is entirely due to a lack of 
knowledge of the state of education and of the progress 
of scientific investigation long before his time. The 
reason for this ignorance is the unfortunate tradition 
which has been so long fostered in educational circles. 

^f * 


that nothing worth while ever came out of the Nazareth 
of the Middle Ages, or the centuries before the so-called 
reformation and the Renaissance. The ridiculously utter 
falsity of this impression we shall be able properly to 
characterize at the end of the next chapter. 

As a matter of fact, it would have been much truer to 
have attributed the origin of experimental science to his 
great namesake, Roger Bacon, the Franciscan friar, 
whose work was done at Paris and at Oxford during the 
latter half of that wonderful thirteenth century that 
saw the rise and the development of the universities to 
that condition in which they have practically remained 
ever since. Even Bacon, however, is not the real orig- 
inator of the inductive method, since, as we shall see, 
the writings of his great teacher, the profoundest 
scholar of this great century, whose years are almost 
coincident with it, Albert Magnus, the Dominican, who 
afterwards became Bishop of Ratisbon, contained many 
distinct and definite anticipations of Bacon as regards 
the inductive method. 

The earlier Bacon, the Franciscan, laid down very 
distinctly the principle, that only by careful observation 
and experimental demonstration could any real knowl- 
edge with regard to natural phenomena be obtained. 
He not only laid down the principle, however, but in 
this, quite a contrast to his later namesake, he followed 
the route himself very wonderfully. It is for this 
reason that his name is deservedly attached to many 
important beginnings in modern science, which we shall 
have occasion to mention during the course of this and 
the next chapter. His general attitude of mind toward 
natural science can be best appreciated from the famous 
passage with regard to his friend, Petrus Peregrinus, 


who did such excellent work in magnetism in the thii^ 
teenth century, and sent to Friar Bacon the details of it 
with the loving: solicitude of a pupil to a master. 

In his Opus Tertium, Bacon thus praises the merits of 
Peregrinus : **I know of only one person who deserves 
praise for his work in experimental philosophy, for he 
does not care for the discourses of men and their wordy 
warfare, but quietly and diligently pursues the work of 
wisdom. Therefore, what others grope after blindly, as 
bats in the evening twilight, this man contemplates in 
all their brilliancy because he is a master af experiment 
Hence, he knows all of natural science, whether pertain- 
ing to medicine and alchemy, or to matters celestial or 
terrestrial. He has worked diligently in the smelting of 
ores, as also in the working of minends ; he is thoroughly 
acquainted with all sorts of arms and implements used 
in military service and in hunting, besides which he is 
skilled in agriculture and in the measurement of landa 
It is impossible to write a useful or correct treatise in 
experimental philosophy without mentioning this man's 
name. Moreover, he pursues knowledge for its own 
sake ; for if he wished to obtain royal favor, he could 
easily find sovereigns who would honor and enrich 

Brother Potamian's reflections on this unexpected 
passage of Bacon are the best interpretation of it for 
the modem student of science. 

**This last statement is worthy of the best utterances 
of the twentieth century. Say what they will, the most 
ardent pleaders of our day for original work aiM labor- 
atory methods, cannot surpass the Franciscan monk of 
the thirteenth century in his denunciation of mere book- 
learning, or in his advocacy of experiment and research ; 


while in Peregrinus, the medievalist, they have Bacon's 
impersonation of what a student of science ought to be. 
Peregrinus was a hard worker, not a mere theorizer, 
preferring, Procrusteanlike, to make theory fit the facts 
rather than facts fit the theory ; he was a brilliant dis- 
coverer, who knew at the same time how to use his dis- 
coveries for the benefit of mankind ; he was a pioneer of 
science and a leader in the progress of the world. " ^ 

This letter of Roger Bacon contains every idea that the 
modem scientists contend for as significant in education. 
It counsels observation, not theory, and says very plainly 
what he thinks of much talk without a basis of observa- 
tion. It conmiends a mastery in experiment as the most 
important thing for science. It suggests, of course, by 
implication at least, that a man should know all sciences 
and all applications of them ; but surely no one will ob- 
ject to this medieval friar commending as great a 
breadth of mental development as possible, as the ideal 
of an educated man, and especially with regard to the 
experimental sciences. Finally, it has the surprising 
phrase, that Peregrinus pursues knowledge for its own 
sake. Friar Bacon evidently would have sympathized 
very heartily with Faraday, who at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century wanted to get out of trade and into 
science, because he thought it unworthy of man to spend 
all his life accumulating money, and considered that the 
only proper aim in life is to add to knowledge. He woufd 
have been in cordial accord with Pasteur, at the end of 
the century, who told the Empress Eugenie, when she 
asked him if he would not exploit his discoveries in 
fermentation for the purpose of building up a great 

1 The letter of Petrus Pereffrinus on the Magnet, A. D. 1269, tranalated by Bra 
Arnold. M. Sc., with an Introductory Note by Bro. Potamian, N. Y., 1901 


brewing industry in France, that he thought it un- 
worthy of a French scientist to devote himself to a mere 
money-making industry. 

For a man of the modem time, perhaps the most 
interesting expression that ever fell from Roger Bacon's 
lips is his famous proclamation of the reasons why men 
do not obtain genuine knowledge more rapidly than 
would seem ought to be the case, from the care and 
time and amount of work which they have devoted to 
its cultivation. This expression occurs in Bacon's Opus 
Tertiimi, which, it may be recalled, the Franciscan friar 
wrote at the command of Pope Clement, because the 
Pope had heard many interesting accounts of all that 
the great thirteenth century teacher and experimenter 
was doing at the University of Oxford, and wished to 
learn for himself the details of his work. Friar Bacon 
starts out with the principle that there are four grounds 
of human ignorance. 

'' These are : first, trust in adequate authority ; sec- 
ond, that force of custom which leads men to accept too 
unquestioningly what has been accepted before their 
time ; third, the placing of confidence in the opinion of 
the inexperienced ; and fourth, the hiding of one's own 
ignorance with the parade of superficial knowledge." 
These reasons contain the very essence of the experi- 
mental method, and continue to be as important in the 
twentieth century as they were in the thirteenth. They 
could only have emanated from an eminently practical 
mind, accustomed to test by observation and by care- 
ful searching of authorities every proposition that came 
to him. 

It is very evident that modem scientists would have 
more of kinship and intellectual sympathy with Friar 


Bacon than most of them are apt to think possible. A 
faithful student of his writings, who was at the same 
time in many wa^s a cordial admirer of medievalism, 
the late Professor Henry Morley, who held the chair of 
English literature at University College, London, whose 
contributions to the History of English Literature are 
probably the most important of the nineteenth century, 
has a striking paragraph with regard to this attitude of 
Bacon toward knowledge and science— two words that 
have the same meaning etymologically, though they 
have come to have quite different connotations. In the 
third volume of his English Writers, page 321, Professor 
Morley, after quoting Bacon's four grounds of human 
ignorance, said :— 

"No part of that ground has yet been cut away from 
beneath the feet of students, although six centuries ago 
the Oxford friar clearly pointed out its character. We 
still make sheep walks of second, third and fourth and 
fiftieth-hand references to authority; still we are the 
slaves of habit; still we are found following too fre- 
quently the untaught crowd ; still we flinch from the 
righteous and wholesome phrase, * I do not know, ' and 
acquiesce actively in the opinion of others, that we know 
what we appear to know. Substitute honest research, 
original and independent thought, strict truth in the 
comparison of only what we really know with what is 
really known by others, and the strong redoubt of ig- 
norance is fallen." 

This attitude of mind of Friar Bacon toward the reasons 
for ignorance, is so different from what is usually pred- 
icated of the Middle Ages and of medieval scholars, 
that it seems worth while insisting on it Authority is 
supposed to have meant everything for the scholastics. 


and experiment is usually said to have counted fcnr 
nothing. They are supposed to have been accustomed 
to swear to the words of the master— "iwrare in verba 
magistri " — yet here is a great leader of medieval thought 
insisting on just the opposite. As clearly as ever it was 
proclaimed, Bacon announces that an authority is worth 
only the reasons that he advances. These thirteenth 
century teachers are supposed, above all, to have f airiy 
bowed down and worshipped at the shrine of Aristotle. 
Many of them doubtless did. In every generation the 
great mass of mankind must find someone to follow. As 
often as not, their leaders are much more fallible than 
Aristotle. Bacon, however, had no undue reverence for 
Aristotle or anyone else, and he realized that the blind fol- 
lowing of Aristotle had done much harm. In his sketch 
of Gilbert of Colchester, which was published in the 
"Popular Science Monthly" for August^ 1901, Brother 
Potamian calls attention to this quality of Roger Bacon 
in a striking passage. 

" Roger Bacon, after absorbing the learning of Oxford 
and Paris, wrote to the reigning Pontiff, Clement IV., 
urging him to have the works of the Stagirite burnt in 
order to stop the propagation of error in the schools. 
The Franciscan monk of Ilchester has left us, in his Opus 
Majus, a lasting memorial of his practical genius. In 
the section entitled, '*Scientia Experimentalis,'' he 
affirms that ** Without experiment, nothing can be 
adequately known. An argument proves theoretically, 
but does not give the certitude necessary to remove all 
doubt ; nor will the mind repose in the clear view of 
truth, unless it finds it by way of experiment " And in 
his Opus Tertium: ''The strongest arguments prove 
nothing, so long as the conclusions are not verified by 


experience. Experimental science is the queen of 
sciences and the goal of all speculation/' 

Lest it should be thought that these expressions of 
laudatory appreciation of the great thirteenth century 
scientist are dictated more by the desire to magnify his 
work and to bring out the influence in science of the 
churchmen of the period, it seems well to quote an ex- 
pression of opinion from the modem historian of the 
inductive sciences, whose praise is scarcely if any less 
outspoken than that of others whom we have quoted and 
who might be supposed to be somewhat partial in their 
judgment This opinion will fortify the doubters who 
must have authority, and at the same time sums up very 
excellently the position which Roger Bacon occupies in 
the history of science. 

Dr. Whewell says that Roger Bacon's Opus Majus is 
" the encyclopedia and Novum Organon of the thirteenth 
century, a work equally wonderful with regard to its 
general scheme and to the special treatises with which 
the outlines of the plans are filled up. The professed 
object of the work is to urge the necessity of a reform 
in the mode of philosophizing, to set forth the reasons 
why knowledge had not made a greater progress, to 
draw back attention to the sources of knowledge which 
had been unwisely neglected, to discover other sources 
which were yet almost untouched, and to animate men 
in the undertaking by a prospect of the best advantages 
which it offered. In the development of this plan all 
the leading portions of science are expanded in the most 
complete shape which they had at that time assumed ; 
and improvements of a very wide and striking kind are 
proposed in some of the principal branches of study. 
Even if the work had no leading purposes it would have 


been highly valuable as a treasure of the most solid 
knowledge and soundest speculations of the time ; even 
if it had contained no such details, it would have been a 
work most remarkable for its general views and scope." 

The open and inquiring attitude of mind toward the 
truths of nature is supposed usually to be utterly at 
variance with the intellectual temper of the Middle Ages. 
We have heard so much about the submission to author^ 
ity and the cultivation of tradition on the part of medie- 
val scholars that we forget entirely how much th^ 
accomplished in adding to human knowledge, and though 
they had their limitations of conservatism, they were no 
more old fogies clinging to old-fashioned ruts than are 
the older men of each successive generation down even 
to our own time, in the minds of their younger col- 
leagues. It might seem to be difficult to substantiate 
such a declaration. It may appear to be aparadox totalk 
thus. It is not hard to show good reasons for it, and 
far from being a far-fetched attempt to bolster up an 
opinion more favorable to the Middle Ages, it is really a 
very simple expression of what the history of these 
generations shows that they actually tried to accomplish. 
Roger Bacon must not be thought to be alone in this. 
On the contrary, he was only a leader with many fol- 
lowers. Even before his time, however, these ideas as 
to the necessity for observation had been very forcibly 
expressed by many, and by no one more than Roger's 
distinguished teacher, Albertus Magnus, whose name 
is now becoming familiar to scholars as Albert the 

Albert's great pupil, Roger Bacon, is rightly looked 
upon as the true father of inductive science, an honor 
that history has unfortunately taken from him to confer 


it undeservedly on his namesake of four centuries later ; 
but the teaching out of which Roger Bacon was to de- 
velop the principles of experimental science can be found 
in many places in the master's writings. In Albert's 
tenth book, wherein he catalogues and describes all the 
trees, plants, and herbs known in his time, he observes: 
" All that is here set down is the result of our own ex- 
perience, or has been borrowed from authors whom we 
know to have written what their personal experience 
has confirmed : for in these matters experience alone 
can give certainty"— experi?new^i^m solum certificat in 
talibus. "Such an expression," says his biographer, 
''which might have proceeded from the pen of (Francis) 
Bacon, argues in itself a prodigious scientific progress, 
and shows that the medieval friar was on the track so 
successfully pursued by modem natural philosophy. He 
had fairly shaken off the shackles which had hitherto 
tied up discovery, and was the slave neither of Pliny nor 
of Aristotle." 

Albert was a theologian rather than a scientist, and 
yet, deeply versed as he was in theology, he declared in 
a treatise concerning Heaven and Earth, ^ that *'in 
studying nature we have not to enquire how God the 
Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to 
work miracles and thereby show forth His power ; we 
have rather to enquire what nature with its immanent 
causes can naturally bring to pass." This can scarcely 
fail to seem a surprising declaration to those who have 
been accustomed to think of medieval philosophers as 
turning by preference to miraculous explanations of 
things, but such a notion is founded partly on false tra- 
dition, with regard to the real teaching of the medieval 

1 De CoBlo et Hondo, L tr. iv., X. 


scholars, and even more on the partisan declarations of 
those who thought it the proper thing to make as little 
as possible of the intelligence of the people of the Middle 
Ages, in order to account for their adhesion to the 
Catholic Church. 

As a matter of fact^ Albert's declaration, far from 
being an innovation, was only in pursuance of the truly 
philosophic method which had characterized the writings 
of the great Christian thinkers from the earlier time. 
Unfortunately, the declarations of lesser minds are some- 
times accepted as having represented the thoughts of 
men and the policy of the Church. It is not these lesser 
men, however, who have been in special honor. No 
one, for instance, can possibly be looked upon as repre- 
senting Church teaching better than Augustine, who be- 
cause of the depth of his teaching, yet his wonderful 
fidelity to Christian dogma, received the formal title of 
Father of the Church, which carried with it the approval 
of everything that he had written. There is a well- 
known quotation from St Augustine which shows how 
much he deprecated the attempt to make Scriptures an 
authority in science, and how much he valued observa- 
tion as compared with authority, in such matters as are 
really within the domain of investigation by experi- 
ment and observation. 

He says : *'It very often happens that there is some 
question as to the earth* or the sky, or the other ele- 
ments of this world, respecting which one who is not a 
Christian has knowledge derived from most certain 
reasoning or observation '* (that is, from the ordinary 
means at the command of an investigator in natural 
science), **and it is very disgraceful and mischievous, 
and of all things to be carefully avoided, that a Chris- 


tian speaking of such matters as being according to the 
Christian Scriptures, should be heard by an unbeliever 
talking such nonsense that the unbeliever, perceiving 
him to be as wide from the mark as east from west, 
can hardly restrain himself from laughing/' It is the 
opinions of such men as Augustine and Albert that must 
be taken as representing the real attitude of theologians 
and churchmen toward science, and not those of lesser 
men, whose zeal, as is ever true of the minor adherents 
of any cause, always is prone to carry them into unfor- 
tunate excesses. 

Albert the Great was indeed a thoroughgoing experi- 
mentalist in the best modem sense of the term. He 
says in the second book of his treatise On Minerals (De 
Mineralibus) : "The aim of natural science is not simply 
to accept the statements of others, that is, what is nar- 
rated by people, but to investigate the causes that are 
at work in nature for themselves." When we take this 
expression in connection with the other, that "we must 
endeavor to find out what nature can naturally bring to 
pass," the complete foundation of experimentalism is 
laid. Albert held this principle not only in theory, but 
applied it in practice. 

It is often said that the scholastic philosophers, and 
notably Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, almost 
idolatrously worshipped at the shrine of Aristotle, and 
were ready to accept anything that this great Greek 
philosopher had taught. We have already quoted Roger 
Bacon's request to the Pope to forbid the study of the 
Stagirite. It is interesting to find in this regard, that 
while Albert declared that in questions of natural science 
he would prefer to follow Aristotle to St. Augustine— a 
declaration which may seem surprising to many people 

2S6 2^™^ POPE^ AND SCimfCE 

who have been prone to think that what the Fathers of 
the Church said medieval scholars followed slavishly— he 
does not hesitate to point out errors made by the Gresk 
philosopher, nor to criticise his conclusions very freely. 
In his Treatise on Physics,^ he says, " whoever believes 
that Aristotle was a god must also believe that he never 
erred. But if one believe that Aristotle was a man, 
then doubtless he was liable to err just as we are." In 
fact, as is pointed out by the Catholic Encyclopaedia in 
its article on Albertus Magnus, to which we are indebted 
for the exact reference of the quotations that we have 
made, Albert devotes a lengthy chapter in his Summa 
Theologiae^ to what he calls the errors of Aristotle. 
His appreciation of Aristotle is always critical He de- 
serves great credit not only for bringing the scientific 
teaching of the Stagirite to the attention of medieval 
scholars, but also for indicating the method and the 
spirit in which that teaching was to be received. 

With regard to Albert's devotion to the experimental 
method and to observation as the source of knowledge 
in what concerns natural phenomena, Julius Pagel, in his 
History of Medicine in the Middle Ages, which forms 
one of the parts of Puschmann's Handbook of the His- 
tory of Medicine, has some very interesting remarks that 
are worth while quoting here: ** Albert,*' he says, 
''shared with the naturalists of the scholastic period the 
quality of entering deeply and thoroughly into the ob- 
jects of nature, and was not content with bare super- 
ficial details concerning them, which many of the writers 
of the period penetrated no further than to provide a 
nomenclature. While Albert was a churchman and an 

iPhysica. lib. VIU., tr. i.. xiv. 

2 Summa Theoloffiie. Pars II., tr. i.. Qtuest iv. 


Eurdent devotee of Aristotle in matters of natural phe- 
nomena, he was relatively unprejudiced and presented an 
3pen mind. He thought that he must follow Hippoc- 
rates and Galen rather than Aristotle and Augustine in 
medicine and in the natural sciences. We must concede 
it as a special subject of praise for Albert, that he dis- 
tinguished very strictly between natural and supernatu- 
ral phenomena. The former he considered as entirely 
the object of the investigation of nature. The latter he 
handed over to the realm of metaphysics." 

' 'Albert's efforts, ' ' Pagel says, * ' to set down the limits 
Df natural science shows already the seeds of a more 
scientific treatment of natural phenomena, and a recog- 
nition of the necessity to know things in their causes— 
rerum cognoscere causassLud not to consider that every- 
thing must simply be attributed to the action of Provi- 
dence. He must be considered as one of the more 
rational thinkers of his time, though the fetters of scho- 
lasticism still bound him quite enough, and his mastery 
Df dialectics, which he had learned from the strenuous 
Dominican standpoint, still made him subordinate the 
laws of nature to the Church's teaching in ways that sug- 
gested the possibility of his being less free than might 
Dtherwise have been the case. His thoroughgoing piety, 
his profound scholarship, his boundless industry ; the 
almost uncontrollable impulse of his mind after univer- 
sality of knowledge ; his many-sidedness in literary pro- 
ductivity ; and finally the universal recognition which 
he received from his contemporaries and succeeding 
generations, —stamp him as one of the most imposing 
characters and one of the most wonderful phenomena of 
the Middle Ages." 

Perhaps in no department of the history of science 


has more nonsense been talked, than with regard to the 
neglect of experiment and observation m tiie Hiddk 
Ages. The men who made the series of experiments 
necessary to enable them to raise the magnificent Gothic 
cathedrals ; who built the fine old municipal bufldings 
and abbeys and castles ; who spanned wide rivers wifli 
bridges, and yet had the intelligence and the skill to dee- 
orate all of these buildings as effectively as th^ did»— 
cannot be considered either as impractical or lacking in 
powers of observation. As I show in the chapter The 
Medieval University Man and Science, Dante, the poet 
and literary man of the thirteenth century, had his mind 
stored with quite as much material information with 
regard to physical science and nature study, as any 
modem educated man. It is true that the men of the 
Middle Ages did not make observations on exactly the 
same things that we do, but to say either that they 
lacked powers of observation, or did not use their powers 
or failed to appreciate the value of such powers, is 
simply a display of ignorance of what they actually 

On the other hand, when it comes to the question of 
the principles of experimental science and the value they 
placed on them, these men of the medieval imiversities, 
when sympathetically studied, prove to have been quite 
as sensible as the scientists of our own time. The idea 
that Francis Bacon in any way laid the foundation of 
the experimental sciences, or indeed did anything more 
than give a literary statement of the philosophy of the 
experimental science, though he himself proved utterly 
unable to apply the principles that he discussed to the 
scientific discovenes of his own time, is one of the inex- 
plicable absurdities of history that somehow get in and 



cannot be got out The great thinkers of the medieval 
period had not only reached the same conclusions as he 
did, but actually applied them three centuries before ; 
and the great medieval universities were occupied with 
problems, even in physical science, not very different 
from those which have given food for thought for sub- 
sequent generations. We shall see in the next chapter 
how successfully they applied these great principles 
of the experimental method, and how much they antici- 
pated many phases of science that we are apt to think of 
as distinctly modem. 


There can be no doubt at all in the mindsof those who 
know anything about the early history of the ^lnive^ 
sities, but that the Popes were entirely favorable to the 
great educational movement represented by these insti- 
tutions. It is ordinarily supposed, however, that the 
medieval universities limited their attention to philos- 
ophy and theology, and that even these subjects were 
studied from such narrow religious standpoints, as to 
make them of very little value for the development of 
human knowledge or the evolution of the human mind. 
Any such supposition is the result of ignorance on tte 
part of those who entertain it, as to the actual corricii- 
lum of studies at the early universities, though it is not 
surprising that it should be very common, because, un- 
fortunately, it has been fostered by many writers on 
educational subjects, especially in English. Scholasti- 
cism is often said to have been the very acme of absur- 
dity in teaching, and its real import is entirely missed. 
Students and professors are supposed to have been 
limited in their interests to dialectics and metaphysics in 
the narrowest sense of these terms, and much time was, 
according to even presumably good authorities, frittered 
away in idle speculations with regard to things that are 
absolutely unknowable.^ 

1 Much of the remainder of this chapter is taken from the chapter on What and 
How They Studied at the Universities, in my book The Thirteenth Greatest of Ceo- 
turies. (Catholic Summer School Press, N. Y.) Some of the eooreea from which the 
material is obtained will be found more fully referred to there* and farther informa* 
tion with recrard to scientific studies at these universities wiU be found in the chapttf 


Anyone who studies the works of the professors at 
these medieval universities can scarcely fail to become 
entirely sympathetic toward these scholars, who devoted 
themselves with so much ardor to every form of learn- 
ing that interested them, and who did not fail to accom- 
plish at least as much for future generations, as any 
other generation of university men in history. Profes- 
sor George Saintsbury in his book. On the Rise of Ro- 
mance and the Flourishing of Allegory, which is really 
the story of thirteenth century literature in Europe, in 
the series of Periods of European Literature,^ in smn- 
ming up the contributions of these medieval professors 
to human knowledge, said : 

' ' Yet, there has always, in generous souls who have 
some tincture of philosophy, subsisted a curious kind of 
sympathy and yearning over the work of these genera- 
tions of mainly disinterested scholars, who, whatever 
they were, were thorough, and whatever they could not 
do, could think. And there have been in these latter 
days some graceless ones who have asked whether the 
science of the nineteenth century, after an equal inter- 
val, will be of any more positive value— whether it will 
not have even less comparative interest than that which 
appertains to the Scholasticism of the thirteenth." 

Nothing could well be less true than the impression 
that philosophy and theology were the exclusive subjects 
of the medieval university curriculum. If because our 
modem universities devote a great amount of time to 
physical science in its various forms, and more of their 
publications concern this department of educational 
work than any other, it were to be said by some future 
generation that our universities occupied themselves 

OB Post-sraduate Work in the same book, from which a certain amoant of material 
li used affainhere. 
1 Seribncra, 1886. 


with nothing but physical science, it would be much 
more true than the expressions which stamp mediei^al 
university teaching as limited to dialectics and meta- 
physics. Besides science in the modem universities, 
philosophy in all its branches is the subject of ardent 
devotjon, and the classics and languages are not n^ 
lected, and medicine and law are important post- 
graduate departments, and even theology comes in tot 
a goodly share of attention and occupies the minds of 
many deep students. In the medieval universities^ medi* 
cine particularly occupied a very large share of atten- 
tion ; but all the physical sciences were the subject not 
only of distant curiosity, but of careful investigation, 
many of them along lines that are supposed to be dis- 
tinctly modem, yet which are really as old as the uni- 
versity movement 

Tumer in his History of Philosophy^ summed up the 
books most conunonly used, the method of examination 
and of conferring degrees, in a way that shows the char- 
acter of university teaching during the thirteenth cen- 
tury, and brings out not only its thoroughness, but also 
the fact that a good deal of time was devoted to what 
we now call physical or natural science, since the trea-« 
tises on animals, on the earth and on meteors, under 
which all the phenomena of the Heavens were included, 
represent almost exactly those questions in physical 
science that most men who do not intend to devote them- 
selves particularly to science care to know something 
about at the present time. He says : 

'* By statutes issued at various times during the thir- 
teenth century, it was provided that the professor should 
read, that is, expound, the text of certain standard 

^ Ginn & Co.. Boston and New York. 1903. 


authors in philosophy and theology. In a document pub- 
lished by Denifle (the distinguished authority on medie- 
val universities), and by him referred to the year 1252, 
we find the following works among those prescribed for 
the Faculty of Arts : Logica Vetus (the old Boethian 
text of a portion of the Organon, probably accompanied 
by Porphjoy's Isagoge) ; Logica Nova (the new trans- 
lation of the Organon); Gilbert's Liber Sex Principi- 
oriim ; and Donatus's Barbarismus. A few years later 
(1255), the following works are prescribed : Aristotle's 
Physics, Metaphysics, De Anima, De Animalibus, De 
CsbIo et Mundo, Meteorica, the minor psychological trea- 
tises and some Arabian or Jewish works, such as the 
Liber de Causis and De Differentia Spiritus et Animae." 

As time went on in the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies, the attention to physical sciences was increased 
rather than diminished. Much of Albertus Magnus's 
work, and practically all of that of Aquinas and Roger 
Bacon, was done after the date here given (1255). 

The medieval workers at the universities were under 
the obligation of having to lay the foundations for modem 
thought, instead of being able to build up the magnifi- 
cent superstructure which has risen in the seven cen- 
turies since the universities were founded. Without the 
foundation, however, the building would indeed not be 
worthy of admiration. Their work is concealed beneath 
the surfaces of things, but is not the less important for 
that, and is in most ways more significant than many 
portions of the structure that have risen above it. Un- 
less one digs down to see how broad and deep and firm 
they laid the foundations, the modem critic will not be 
able to appreciate their work at its true value. Very 
few men are able to do this ; still fewer have the time 
or the inclination. The consequence is a sad lack of 
sympathy with these old-time workers, who neverthe- 
less did their work so well, and whose accomplishment 
meant so much for the modem time. It is not hard to 


show that their minds were occupied with just the same 
problems that interest us, and the wonderful thing ia 
that they anticipated so many of our conclusions, though 
these anticipations are wrapped up not infrequently in 
a terminology that obscures their meaning for any but 
the patient, sympathetic student In his Harveian 
Lecture, Science and Medieval Thought, Professor Cliffofd 
Allbutt, of the University of Cambridge, England, 

' ' Each period of human achievement has its phases of 
spring, culmination, and decline ; and it is in its decline 
that the leafless tree comes to judgment In the un- 
loveliness of decay, the Middle Ages are as other ages 
have been, as our own will be ; but in those ages there 
was more than one outburst of life ; more than once the 
enthusiasm of the youth of the West went out to explore 
the ways of the rc^dm of ideas ; and if we believe our^ 
selves at last to have found the only thoroughfare, we 
owe this knowledge to those who before us leveled tiie 
uncharted seas. If we have inherited a great commerce 
and dominion of science, it is because their argosies had 
been on the ocean and their camels on the desert Dis- 
cipidus est prioris posterior dies ; man cannot know 2II 
at once ; knowledge must be built up by laborious gen- 
erations. In all times, as in our own, the advance of 
knowledge is very largely by elimination and negation ; 
we ascertain what is not true, and we weed it out To 
perceive and respect the limits of the knowable, we 
must have sought to transgress them. We can build our 
bridge over the chasm of ignorance with stored material 
in which the thirteenth century was poor indeed ; we 
can fix our bearings where then was no foundation ; yet 
man may be well engaged when he knows not the ends 
of his work ; and the schoolmen in digging for treasure 
cultivated the field of knowledge, even for Galileo and 
Harvey, for Newton and Darwin. Their many errors 
came not of indolence, for they were passionate workers ; 
not of hatred of light, for they were eager for the light : 
not of fickleness, for they wrought with unparallelea 
devotion ; nor indeed of ignorance of particular tilings. 


for they knew many things. They erred because they 
did not know, and they could not know the conditions of 
the problems which, as they emerged from the cauldron 
of war and from the wreck of letters and science, they 
were nevertheless bound to attack, if civil societies 
worthy of the name were to be constructed." 

We are very prone to think that the interests of the 
men of the Middle Ages were very different to our own,* 
and that they had not the slightest inkling of what were 
to be the interests of the future centuries. Ordinarily 
students of science, for instance, would be sure to think 
that electricity and magnetism, interest in which is 
supposed to be a thing of comparatively recent years, or 
at most of the last two centuries, would not be mentioned 
at all in the thirteenth century. Such an idea is not 
only absolutely false to the history of science as we 
know it, but is utterly unjust to the powers of observa- 
tion of men who have always noted, and almost neces- 
sarily tried to investigate, the phenomena which are 
now grouped under these sciences. Perhaps no better 
idea of the intense interest of this first century of uni- 
versity life in natural phenomena can be obtained, than 
will be gleaned at once from the following short para- 
graph, in which Brother Potamian, of Manhattan Col- 
lege, in his brief, striking introduction to the letter of 
Petrus Peregrinus describing the first conception of a 
dynamo, condenses the references to magnetic manif es- 
tions that are found in the literature of the time.^ 

Most of the writers he mentions were not scientists in 
the ordinary sense of the word, but were literary men ; 
and the fact that these references occur, shows very 
clearly that there must have been widespread interest in 
such scientific phenomena, -since they had attracted the 

1 The Letter of Petnu PeregrinoB. N. Y^ 190i. 


attention of literary writers, who would not have spoken 
of them doubtless, but that they knew that in this 
they would be satisfying as wdl as exciting public 

''Abbot Neckam, the Augiistinian (1157-1217), distin- 
guished between the properties of the two ends of the 
lodestone, and gives m his De Utensilibus what is per- 
haps the earliest reference to the mariner's compass 
that we have. Albertus Magnus, the Dominican (1193- 
1280), in his treatise De Mineralibus, enumerates differ- 
ent lands of natural magnets and states some of the 
properties commonly attributed to them ; the minstrel, 
Guyot de Provins, in a famous satirical poem written 
about 1208, refers to the directive quality of the lode- 
stone and its use in navigation, as do also Cardinal de 
Vitry in his Historia Orientalis (1215-1220) ; Brunetto 
Latini. ^oet, orator and philosopher (the teacher of 
Dante), in his Tresor des Sciences, a veritable library, 
written in Paris in 1260 ; Raymond LuUy, the enlightened 
Doctor, in his treatise, De C!ontemplatione, begun in 
1272 ; and Guido Guinicelli, the poet-priest of Bologna, 
who died in 1276/' 

All of these writers, it may be said, with a single 
exception, were clergymen, and some of them were very 
prominent ecclesiastics in their time. 

The present g'eneration has not as yet quite got over 
the bad habit of making fun of these medieval thinkers 
for having accepted the idea of the transmutation of 
metals and searched so assiduously for the philosopher's 
stone. This supposed absurdity has for most scientific 
minds during the nineteenth century been quite enough 
of itself, without more ado, to stamp the generations of 
the Middle Ages who accepted it, as utterly lacking, if 
not in common sense, at least in serious reasoning power. 
At the present moment, however, we are in the full tide 
of a set of opinions that tend to make us believe not 


only in the possibility, but in the actual occurrence of the 
transmutation of metals. Observations made with re- 
gard to radium have revolutionized all the scientific 
thinking in this matter. Radium has apparently been 
demonstrated changing into helium, and so there is a 
transmutation of metals. On the strength of this and 
certain other recently investigated physical phenomena, 
there is a definite tendency in the minds of many serious 
students of physics and chemistry to consider that other 
metals possibly change into one another, and that all 
that is needed is careful observation to discover it, for this 
change is supposed to be going on around us all the time. 
Not very long since, a professor of physical science at 
an important American university suggested that it 
would be extremely interesting to take a large specimen 
of lead ore, say several tons, and having removed from 
it carefully all traces of silver that might be contained in 
it, put it away for twenty years, and then see whether 
any further traces of silver could be found. The idea 
that possibly lead occasionally changes into silver by 
some slow chemical process is evidently deep-seated in 
his mind. It would remind one of Newton's expression 
some two centuries ago, that he had seen copper and 
gold ores occurring together in specimens, and that he 
looked upon this as evidence that copper in the course of 
time changes into gold. Certain it is that lead ores con- 
stantly occur in connection with silver, or at least that 
silver is found wherever lead is; that a corresponding re- 
lationship between gold and copper has also been noted ; 
and that Nevrton's idea was not near so absurd, in the 
light of what we now know, or still more, what we sur- 
mise on good scientific grounds, as the nineteenth cen- 
tury scientists would have had us believe. 


As I go over this manuscript for the last time just be- 
fore going to press, there comes the announcement that 
Sir William Ramsay has probably solved the problem of 
the transmutation of metals. He has shown apparently 
that lithium, when acted upon by radium emanationSp 
changes to some extent to copper. It is true that the 
change is only in small quantities^ and that there is no 
question as yet of any commercial value to the process ; 
but we all know that it is by such small scientific an- 
noimcements as this that the entering wedges of large 
industrial processes are introduced. The fact that this 
annoimcement should have been made before the British 
Association for the Advancement of Science and by a 
thoroughly conservative English chemist^ prob^ly 
settles forever the question of the transmutation of 
metals, in the way that the people of the Middle Ages 
looked at the problem rather than as the intervening 
centuries did. 

The old medieval thinkers, then, were only ridiculous 
to a few generations of nineteenth century scientists 
who, because they knew a little more about certain de- 
tails in science than preceding generations had done, 
thought that they knew all that there was to be known 
about this immense subject, and made fun of thinkers 
quite as great as themselves in preceding centuries. At 
the beginning of the twentieth century, instead of mak- 
ing ourselves ludicrous by raising a laugh at the ex- 
pense of these fellow students in science of the olden 
time, we should rather feel like congratulating them 
upon the perspicacity which enabled them to anticipate 
a great truth with regard to the relationships of chem- 
ical elements, especially the metals, to each other. The 
present-day idea of thinking physicists and chemists is 


that the seventy odd elements described in our text- 
books on chemistry, are not so many essentially in- 
dependent forms of matter, but are rather examples of 
one kind of material exhibiting special djmamic energies 
which it possesses under varying conditions, as yet not 
well understood. This was exactly the idea that the old 
scholastic philosophers had of the constitution of matter. 
They said that matter was composed of two principles, 
prime matter and form. When this doctrine of theirs is 
properly elucidated, it proves to be an anticipation of 
what is most modem in the thoughts of twentieth cen- 
tury physicists. A re-statement of the old-time views 
would read not unlike many a contribution to a dis- 
cussion of this subject at an annual meeting of the 
British or American Associations for the Advancement 
of Science. 

This doctrine of prime matter and form, which the 
scholastics adopted and adapted from the Greeks, and 
especially from Aristotle, cannot fail to be of interest 
even to modem scientists. According to it, prime 
matter was an indeterminate something which made up 
the underlying substratum of all material things. Form 
was the djmamic element which entered into the compo- 
sition of matter and made it exhibit its specific qualities. 
We have heard much of ionization in recent times, and 
in many ways this would remind one even only slightly 
familiar with the old scholastics, of their theories of 
form entering into matter. Prime matter was supposed 
to be absolutely without distinguishing characteristics. 
of its own. It was indifferent, and had no influence on 
other material unless when associated with form. Form 
was the dynamic and energizing element 

This, of course, still remains in the realm of theory ; 


but it is interestinfir to realize that in the olden tinie they 
theorized about the constitution of matter at the univer- 
sities of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries just as 
we do now, and most surprisingly came to conclusions 
quite like ours. Their thoughts not only concerned the 
same subject, but were worked out in the same way. It 
is idle to say that they knew nothing about it and hit on 
their theory by chanca As a matter of fact, they knew 
very little, if any less about it than we do, for our igno- 
rance on this subject is monumental, and they antici- 
pated our latest thinking by seven centuries. Many 
have been the divagations ot thought since that time, 
but now we return to their conclusions. It is chastening 
to the modem mind, so confident of the advances that 
have been made by these latter generations, ''the heirs 
of all the ages in the foremost files of time," to find that 
we are so little farther on in an important problem than 
these men of the thirteenth century. 

Other basic problems with regard to matter and force 
filled the minds of the medieval schoolmen quite as they 
do those of the modem generations. For instance, they 
occupied themselves with the question of the indestruc- 
tibility of matter, and also, strange as it may seem, with 
the conservation of energy. We have presumably learned 
so much by experimental demonstration and original 
observation in the physical sciences in the modem times, 
and especially during the precious nineteenth century, 
that any thinking ot the medieval mind along these lines 
might, in the opinion of those who know nothing of what 
they speak, be at once set aside without further ques- 
tion as preposterous, or at best nugatory. The opinions 
of medieval scholars in these matters would be pre- 
sumed, without more ado, to have been so entirely spec- 


ulative as to deserve no further attention. Nothing 
could well be farther from the truth than this. No- 
where will more marvelous anticipations of what is 
most modern in science be found than in some of 
these considerations of basic principles in the physical 

For instance, Thomas Aquinas, usually known as St 
Thomas, in a series of lectures given at the University 
of Paris toward the end of the third quarter of the thir- 
teenth century, stated as the most important conclusion 
with regard to matter that ''Nihil omnino in nihilum 
redigetur. —Nothing at all will ever be reduced to noth- 
ingness." By this, as is very evident from the context, 
he meant to say that matter would never be annihilated 
and could never be destroyed. It might be changed in 
various ways, but it could never go back into the noth- 
ingness from which it had been taken by the creative 
act. Annihilation was pronounced as not being a part 
of the scheme of things as far as the human mind could 
hope to fathom its meaning. 

In this sentence, then, Thomas of Aquin was proclaim- 
ing the doctrine of the indestructibility of matter. It 
was not until well on in the nineteenth century that the 
chemists and physicists of modem times realized the 
truth of this great principle. The chemists had seen 
matter change its form in many ways, had seen it dis- 
appear apparently in the smoke of fire or evaporate under 
the influence of heat, but investigation proved that if 
care were taken in the collection of the gases that came 
off under these circumstances, of the ashes of combus- 
tion and of the residue of evaporation, all the original 
material that had been contained jn the supposedly dis- 
appearing substance could be recovered, or at least com- 


pletely accounted for. The physicists on their part had 
realized this same truth, and finally there came the 
definite enunciation of the absolute indestructibility of 
matter. St Thomas's conclusion, "'Nothing at all will 
ever be reduced to nothingness," had anticipated this 
doctrine by nearly seven centuries. What happened in 
the nineteenth century was that there came an experi- 
mental demonstration of the truth of the principle. The 
principle itself, however, had been reached long before 
by the human mind, by speculative processes quite as 
inerrable in their way as the more modem method of 

When St Thomas used the aphorism, ''Nothing at all 
will ever be reduced to nothingness, " there was another 
signification that he attached to the words quite as 
clearly as that by which they expressed the indestructi- 
bility of matter. For him nihil or nothing meant neither 
matter nor form, that is, neither the material substance 
nor the energy which is contained in it He meant, then, 
that no energy would ever be destroyed as well as no 
matter would ever be annihilated. He was teaching the 
conservation of energy as well as the indestructibility 
of matter. Here once more the experimental demon- 
stration of the doctrine was delayed for over six centu- 
ries and a half. The truth itself, however, had been 
reached by this medieval master-mind, and was the sub- 
ject of his teaching to the university students in Paris 
in the thirteenth century. These examples should, I 
think, serve to illustrate that the minds of medieval 
students were occupied with practically the same ques- 
tions as those which are now taught to the university 
students of our day, and that the content of the teaching 
was identical with ours. 


The scholars of the Middle Ages are usually said to 
have been profoundly ignorant as regards the shape of 
the earth, its size, and the number of its inhabitants, 
and to have cherished the queerest notions, when they 
really permitted themselves any ideas at all, as to the anti- 
podes. This is very true if the ideas of the ignorant 
masses of the people and the second-rate authors and 
thinkers be taken as the standard of medieval thought 
Unfortunately, such sources as these have only too often 
served as authorities for modem historians of education 
and modem essayists on the history of science. This state 
of affairs would painfully suggest the curiously inverted 
notion of the supposed ideas entertained with regard to 
science in our day, that would be obtained by some thir- 
tieth century student, were he to judge our scientific 
opinions from some of the queer books written by pre- 
tentiously ignorant writers, who have pet scientific 
hobbies of their own and exploit them at the expense of 
a long-suffering world, if by some accident of fortune 
these books should be preserved and the really great 
contributions to science be either actually lost or lost to 
sight It is from Albert the Great and such men, and 
not from their petty contemporaries, that the tme spirit 
of the science of the age must be deduced. Albert's 
biographer said : 

** He treats as fabulous the commonly-received idea, in 
which Venerable Bede had acquiesced, that the region 
of the earth south of the equator was uninhabitable, and 
considers, that from the equator to the South Pole, the 
earth was not only habitable, but in all probability 
actually inhabited, except directly at the poles, where 
he imagines the cold to be excessive. If there be any 
animals there, he says, they must have very thick skins 
to defend them from the rigor of the climate, and they 
are probably of a white color. The intensity of cold is, 


however, tempered by the action of the sea. He de- 
scribes the antipodes and the countries they comprise* 
and divides the climate of the earth into seven zones. 
He smiles with a scholar's freedom at the simplici^ of 
those who suppose that persons living at tiie opposite 
region of the earth must fall off, an opinion that can 
only rise out of the grossest ignorance, far when we 
apeak qf the lower hemisphere, this miist be understood 
merely as rdatively to ourselves.* 

*' It is as a geographer that Albert's superiority to the 
writers of his own time chiefly appears. Bearing in 
mind the astonishing ignorance which then prevails on 
this subject^ it is truly admirable to find him correctly 
tracing the chief mountain chains of Europe, with we 
rivers which take their source in each ; remarking on 
portions of coast which have in later times been sub- 
merged by the ocean, and islands which have been raised 
by volcanic action above the level of the sea ; noticing 
the modification of climate caused by mountains, seas 
and forests, and the division of the human race, whose 
differences he ascribes to the effect upon them of the 
countries they inhabit In speaking of the British Isles, 
he alludes to the commonly-received idea that anotiier 
distant island called Thile, or Thule, existed far in tiie 
Western Ocean, uninhabitable by reason of its frightful 
climate, but which, he says, has perhaps not yet been 
visited by man." 

In only needs to be said in addition to this, that Albert 
had more than a vague hint of the possible existence of 
land on the other side of the globe. He gives an elabo- 
rate demonstration of the sphericity of the earth, and it 
has been suggested by more than one scholar that his 
views on this subject led eventually to the discovery of 

Humboldt, the distinguished German natural philoso- 
pher of the beginning of the nineteenth century, who 
was undoubtedly the most important figure in scientific 
thought in his own time, and whose own work was great 
enough to have an enduring influence even down to our 


day, in spite of the immense progress made during the 
nineteenth century, has praised Albert's work very 
highly. Almost needless to say, Humboldt was possessed 
of a thorough critical faculty and had a very wide range 
of knowledge, so that he was in an eminently proper 
position to judge of Albert's work. He has summed up 
his appreciation briefly as follows : 

'* AJbertus Magnus was equally active and influential 
in promoting the study of natural science and of the 
Aristotelian philosophy. His works contain some ex- 
ceedingly acute remarks on the organic structure and 
physiology of plants. One of his works, bearing the 
title of ' Liber Cosmographicus de Natura Locorum, ' is 
a species of physical geography. I have found in it con- 
siderations on the dependence of temperature concur- 
rently on latitude and elevation, and on the effect of 
different angles of incidence of the sun's rays in heating 
the ground, which have excited my surprise.^' 

I have thought that perhaps the best way to bring out 
properly Albert's knowledge in the physical sciences 
would be to take up Humboldt's headings in their order 
and illustrate them by quotations from the great schol- 
ar's writings— the only scholar to whom the epithet has 
been applied in all history— and from condensed accounts 
as they appear in his life written by Sighart.^ These 
will serve to show at onte the extent of Albert's knowl- 
edge and the presumptuous ignorance of those who make 
little of the science of the medieval period. 

When we have catalogued, for instance, the many 
facts with regard to astronomy and the physics of light 
that are supposed to be of much later entrance into the 
sphere of human knowledge that were grasped by Al- 

^Sigfaart Albertus Biaffnus: Sein ti^bea. and Seine Wisenschaft, Ratisbon. 
18G7, or its translation by Dixon ; Albert the Great his life and scholastic labora. 


bert, and evidently formed the subject of his teaching 
at various times at both Paris and Cologne, since th^ 
are f oimd in his authentic works, we can scarcely help 
but be amused at the pretentious lack of knowledge that 
has relegated their author to a place in education so 
trivial as is that which is represented in many minds by 
the term scholastic. 

' - He decides that the Milky Way is nothinfir but a vast 
assemblage of stars, but supposed, naturaUy enous^ 
that they occupy the orbit which receives the light of 
the Sim. The figures visible on the moon's disc are not, 
he says, as hitherto has been supposed, reflections of ti^s 
seas and mountains of the earth, but configurations of 
her own surface. He notices, in order to correct it, the 
assertions of Aristotie that lunar rainbows appear only 
twice in fifty years ; * I myself, ' he says, * have observed 
two in a single year.' He has something to say on the 
refraction of a solar ray, notices certain crystals whidi 
have a power of refraction, and remarks tiiat none of 
the ancients and few modems were acquainted with the 
properties of mirrors.*' 

Botany is supposed to be a very modem science, and 
to most people Humboldt's expression that he found in 
Albertus Magnus's writings some ''exceedingly acute 
remarks on the organic structure and physiology of 
plants," will come as an supreme surprise. A few de- 
tails with regard to Albert's botanical knowledge, how- 
ever, will serve to heighten that surprise, and to show 
that the foolish tirades of modem sciolists, who have 
often expressed their wonder that with all the beauties 
of nature around them these scholars of the Middle Ages 
' did not devote themselves to nature study, are absurd ; 
because if the critics but knew it, there was profound 
interest in nature and all her manifestations, and a series 
of discoveries that anticipated not a little of what we 


consider most important in our modem science. The 
story of Albert's botanical knowledge has been told in a 
single very full paragraph by his biographer. Sighart also 
quotes an appreciative opinion from a modem German 
botanist, which will serve to dispel any doubts with re- 
gard to Albert's position in botany that modem students 
might perhaps continue to harbor, unless they had good 
authority to support their opinion, though, of course, it 
will be remembered that the main difference between 
the medieval and the modem mind is only too often said 
to be that the medieval required an authority, while the 
modem makes its opinion for itself. Even the most 
skeptical of modern minds, however, will probably be 
satisfied by the following paragraph : 

'*He was acquainted with the sleep of plants, with 
the periodical opening and closing of blossoms, with 
the diminution of sap through evaporation from the 
cuticle of the leaves, and with the influence of the dis- 
tribution of the bundles of vessels on the folial indenta- 
tions. His minute observations on the forms and variety 
of plants intimate an exquisite sense of floral beauty. 
He distinguished the star from the bell-floral, tells us 
that a red rose will turn white when submitted to the 
vapor of sulphur, and makes some very sagacious ob- 
servations on the subject of germination. . . . The 
extraordinary erudition and originality of this treatise 
(his tenth book) has drawn from M. Meyer the follow- 
ing comment : * No botanist who lived before Albert can 
be compared to him, unless Theophrastus, with whom 
he was not acquainted ; and after him none has painted 
nature in such living colors or studied it so profoundly 
until the time of Conrad Gesner and CaBsalpino.' All 
honor, then, to the man who made such astonishing pro- 
gress in the science of nature as to find no one, I will 
not say to surpass, but even to equal him for the space 
of three centuries." 

Pagel in Puschmann's History of Medicine gives a list 


of the books written by Albert which are concerned 
with the physical sciences. These were: Physica, 
Books VIIL, that is, eight treatises on Nataral 
Science, consisting of commentaries on Aristotle's 
Physics and on the imderlying principles of natural 
philosophy, and of energy and movement ; four treatises 
concerning the Heavens and the Earth, which contain 
the general principles of the movement of the heavenly 
bodies Besides there is a treatise On the Nature of 
Places, consisting of a description of climates and natu- 
ral conditions. This volume contains, according to Pagel, 
numerous suggestions with regard to ethnography and 
physiology. There is a treatise on the causes of the 
properties of the elements, which takes up the specific 
peculiarities of the elements, according to their physical 
and geographical relations. To which must be added 
two treatises on generation and corruption ; six books on 
meteors; five books on minerals; three books on the 
soul, in which is considered the vital principle ; a treatise 
on nutrition and nutritives ; a treatise on the senses ; 
another on the memory and the imagination ; two books 
on the intellect; a treatise on sleep and waking; a 
treatise on youth and old age ; a treatise on breath and 
respiration ; a treatise on the motion of animals, in two 
books, which concerns the voluntary and involuntary 
movements of animals ; a treatise on life and death ; a 
treatise in six books on vegetables and plants ; a treatise 
on breathing things. His treatise on minerals contains, 
according to Pagel, besides an extensive presentation of 
the ordinary peculiarities of minerals, a description of 
ninety-five different kinds of precious stones, among 
them the pearl, of seven metals, of salt, vitriol, alum, 
arsenic, marcasite, nitre, tutia, and amber. Albert's 


volumes on the vegetables and plants were reproduced 
under the editorship of Meyer, the historian of botany 
in Germany, and pubHshed in Berlin (1867) . All Albert's 
books are available in modem editions. 

In a word, there was scarcely a subject in natural 
science which Albert did not treat, in what would now 
be considered a formal serious volume, and no depart- 
ment of science that he did not illuminate in some way, not 
only by the collection of information that had previously 
been in existence, but also by his own observations, and 
especially by his interpretations of the significance of 
the various phenomena that had been observed. His 
work is especially noteworthy for its lack of dependence 
on authority and the straightforward way in which 
the great pioneer of modem science made his ob- 

Some of Albert's contemporaries, and especially his 
pupils, were almost as distinguished as he was himself 
in the physical sciences. 

In a previous chapter we spoke particularly of Roger 
Bacon's attitude toward the physical sciences, above all 
in what concerns the experimental method. He was 
typically modem in the standpoint that he assumed, as 
the only one by which knowledge of the things of nature 
can be obtained. It will be interesting now to see the 
number of things which Friar Bacon succeeded in dis- 
covering by the application of the principle of testing 
everything by personal observation, of not accepting 
things on second-hand authorities, 'and of not being 
afraid to say, **I do not know," in trying to leam for 
himself. His discoveries will seem almost incredible to 
a modem student of science and of education who has 
known nothing before of the progress of science made 


by this wonderful man, or who has known only vagody 
that Friar Bacon wasagreat original thinker in scienoe, 
in spite of the fact that his life-history is bounded hj 
the thirteenth century. I may say that the material d 
what I have to say of him, and also of his great con- 
temporaries, Albertus Ifagnus and St Thomas Aquinas^ 
is tidcen ahnost literally from the chapter of my bocdi; 
The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries, on What Thqr 
Studied at the Universities. 

Roger Bacon has been declared to be the disooverer 
of gunpowder, but this is a mistake, since it was known 
many years before by the Arabs and by them introduced 
into Europe. He did study explosives very deeply, how- 
ever, and besides learning many things about them, 
realized how much might be accomplished by their use 
in tiie after-time. He declares in his Opus Magnum: 
''That one may cause to burst forth from bronze, thun- 
derbolts more formidable that those produced by nature. 
A small quantity of prepared matter occasions a terrible 
explosion accompanied by a brilliant light One may 
multiply this phenomenon so far as to destroy a city or an 
army.*' Considering how little was kno^^bout gun- 
powder at this time, this was of itself a marvelous an- 
ticipation of what might be accomplished by it 

Bacon anticipated, however, much more than merely 
destructive effects from the use of high explosives, and 
indeed it is almost amusing to see how closely he antic- 
ipated some of the most modem usages of high ex- 
plosives for motor pxuposes. He seems to have radized 
that some time the apparently uncontrollable forces of 
explosion would come under the control of man and be 
harnessed by him for his own purposes. He foresaw 
that one of the gr^t applications of such a force would 
be for transportation. Accordingly he said: ''Art can 
construct instruments of navigation such that the largest 
vessels, governed by a single man, will traverse rivers 
and seas more rapidly than if they were filled with oars- 
men. One may also make carriages which without the 
aid of any animal will run with remarkable swiftness." 


When we recall that the very latest thing in transporta- 
tion are motor-boats and automobiles driven by gasoline, 
a high explosive, Roger Bacon's prophecy becomes one of 
those weird anticipations of human progress which seem 
almost more than human. 

It was not with regard to explosives alone, however, 
that Roger Bacon was to make great advances and still 
more marvelous anticipations in physical science. He 
was not, as is sometimes claimed for him, either the in- 
ventor of the telescope or of the theory of lenses. He 
did more, however, than perhaps anyone else to make 
the principles of lenses clear and to establish them on a 
mathematical basis. His traditional connection with the 
telescope can probably be traced to the fact that he was 
very much interested in astronomy and the relations of 
the heavens to the earth. He pointed out very clearly 
the errors which had crept into the Julian calendar, cal- 
culated exactly how much of a correction was needed in 
order to restore the year to its proper place, and sug- 
gested the method by which future errors of this kind 
could be avoided. His ideas were too far beyond his 
century to be applied practically, but they were not to 
be without their effect, and it is said that they formed 
the basis of the subsequent correction of the calendar 
in the time of Pope Gregory XHL, about three cen- 
turies later. 

It is rather surprising to find how much besides the 
theory of lenses Friar Bacon had succeeded in finding 
ofot in the department of optics. He taught, for in- 
stance, the principle of the aberration of light, and, still 
more marvelous to consider, taught that light did not 
travel instantaneously, but had a definite rate of motion, 
though this was extremely rapid. It is rather difficult 
to understand how he reached this conclusion, since 
light travels so fast that, as far as regards any observa- 
tion that can be made upon earth, the diffusion is prac- 
tically instantaneous. It was not for over three cen- 
turies later that R5mer, the German astronomer, de- 
monstrated the motion of light and its rate by his ob- 
servations upon the moons of Jupiter at different phases 
of the earth's orbit^ which showed that the light of these 
moons took a definite and quite appreciable time to reach 
the earth after their eclipse l)y the planet was over. 


Albertus Magnus's other great pupil besides Roger 
Bacon was St 'rnomas Aquinas. If any suspicion were^ 
left that Thomas did not appreciate just what the sig- 
nificance of his teachings in physics was, when he aih 
nounced that neither matter nor force could ever be re- 
duced to nothingness, it would surely be remove by the 
consideration that he had been for many years in intim- 
ate relations with Albert, and that he had iirobabhr 
also been close to Roger Bacon. In association with en^d 
men as these, he was not likely to stumble upon truths 
unawares, even though thev might concern p^sical sci- 
ence. St Thomas himself has left three treatises on 
chemical subjects, and it is said that the first occurrence 
of the word amalgam can be traced to one of these 
treatises. Everybody was as much interested then, as 
we are at the present time, in the transformati(m of 
metals and mercury with its silvery sheen ; its tadititf 
to enter into metallic combinations of all kinds, and its 
elusive ways, naturally made it the center of scientific 
interest quite as radium is at the present moment 

These three men, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, 
and 'Roger Bacon, were all closely associated with ec- 
clesiastical authorities, and indeed all three of them had 
intimate personal relations with the Popes of their time. 
Albertus Magnus had been highly honored by the Dom- 
inican Order, to which he belonged. He had been chosen 
as Provincial— that is, the superior of a number of houses 
—in the German part of Europe at least once, and he had 
been constantly appealed to by his superiors for advice 
and counsel. Although it was almost a rule that mem- 
bers of religious orders should not be chosen as bishops, 
he was made Bishop of Ratisbon, and his appointment 
was considered to be due to his surpassing merit as a 
great scholar and teacher. In spite of his devotion to 
scientific studies during a long life, he. lost nothing of 
the ardor of his faith, and is universally considered to 
have been a saint He has been formally raised to the 


altars of the Cathblic Church, as the expression is— that 
is, he had the title of " Blessed " conferred on him, and 
his prayers may be invoked as one of those who are con- 
sidered to stand high in the favor of Heaven. 

Of Thomas Aquinas the same story may be told only 
in much more emphatic words. He was honored by his 
own order, the Dominican, ia many ways. Early in his 
life they recognized his talent and sent him to Cologne 
to study under the great Albert When the Dominicans 
realized the necessity for not only making a significant 
exhibition of the talents of their order at the University 
of Paris, which had become the most prominent educa- 
tional institution in the world, but also wished to influence 
as deeply as possible the cause of education, Albert was 
sent to Paris, and Thomas Aquinas accompanied him. 
When there were difficulties between Dominicans and 
the university, it was to Thomas that his order turned 
to defend them and maintain their rights. He did so 
not only with intellectual acumen, but with great tact 
and successfully. After this he was sent on business of 
his order to England and was for some time at Oxford. 
His reputation as a philosopher and a scientist had now 
spread over the world and he was invited to teach at 
various Italian universities where ecclesiastical influences 
were very strong. The Popes asked, and their request 
was practically a command, that he should teach for 
some time at least at their own university at Rome. 
Later he taught also at the University of Naples. 

While here, one of the Popes wishing to confer a su- 
preme mark of favor on him, his name was selected for 
the vacant archbishopric of Naples. The bulls and for- 
mal documents creating him Archbishop were already on 
the way when Thomas was informed of it, and he asked 

sae ^^^ popss and scmnas 

to be aUciwed to oontinue his studies rather than to have 
to take up the unwonted duties of an archbishop. His 
plea was evidently so sincere that the Pope relented and 
respected Thomas's humility and his desire for leisure 
to finish his great work, the Summa TheologisB. He 
continued to be the great friend of the Popes and their 
special coimsellor. When the Goundl of Lyons was 
summoned, a number of important qi^stions concerning 
the most serious theological problems were to be dis- 
cussed. Thomas was asked to go to L(ycms as the theo- 
logian for the Papacy. It was while fulfilling this duty 
that he came to his death, at a comparatively early age, 
though not until the Cioimcil, consisting of the Inshops 
of all the world, had shown their respect for him, had 
listened to his words of wisdom, and had acknowledged 
that he was the greatest scholar of his time and worthy 
of the respect and admiration of all of them. Because 
of all that his kindness to them had meant for their up- 
lift, the workmen of Lyons craved and obtained the 
permission to carry his coflSn on their shoulders to his 

Like his great teacher Albert, Thomas was respected 
even more for his piety than for his learning. Not long 
after his death, people began to speak of him as a saint 
Though he was the most learned man of his time, he was 
considered to have given an example of heroic virtue. 
A careful investigation of his life showed that there was 
nothing in it unworthy of the highest ideals as a man 
and a religious. Accordingly he was canonized, and has 
ever since been considered the special patron, helper and 
advocate of Catholic students. All down the centuries 
his teaching has been looked upon as the most imix)rtant 
in the whole realm of theology. There has never been 


a time when his works have not been considered the 
most authoritative sources of theological lore. At the 
end of the nineteenth century Leo XIII. crowned the 
tributes which many Popes had conferred upon Thomas 
by selecting him as the teacher to whom Catholic schools 
should ever turn by formulating the authoritative Papal 
opinion— the nearer to Thomas, the nearer to Catholic 
truth. When it is recalled that this is the man who gave 
the great modem impulse to the doctrine of matter and 
form, who taught the indestructibility of matter and the 
conservation of energy, and declared with St Augustine 
that the Creator had made only the seeds of things, 
allowing these afterwards to develop for themselves, 
which is the essence of the doctrine of evolution, it is 
hard to understand how there should be question of 
opposition between the Church and science in his time. 
With regard to the third of these great physical scien- 
tists, the story of his relation to the ecclesiastical author- 
ities is not quite so simple. Roger Bacon was in his 
younger years very much thought of by his own order, 
the Franciscans. They sent him to Paris and provided 
him opportunities to study under the great Albert, and 
then transferred him to Oxford, where he had a magnifi- 
cent opportunity for teaching. Many years of his life 
were spent in peace and happiness in the cloister. A 
friend and fellow student at Paris became Pope Clement, 
and his command was the primary cause of the compo- 
sition of Bacon's great works. All three of his books, 
and especially the Opus Majus, were written at the com- 
mand of the Pope, and were highly praised by the Pon- 
tiff himself and by those who read them in Rome. 
Unfortunately, difficulties occurred within Friar Bacon's 
own order. It is not quite clear now just how these 


came about The Frandscans of the rigid observanoe 
of those early times took vows of the severest poverty. 
There had been some relaxation of the rule, however, 
and certain abuses crept in. The consequence was the 
re-assertion after a time of the original rule of abso- 
lute poverty in all its stringency. It was Friar Baccm 
himself who had chosen this mode of life and had takm 
the vows of poverty. Paper was a very dear commod- 
ity, if indeed it was invented early enough in the cen- 
tury for him to have used it Vellum was even more 
expensive. Just what material Bacon employed for his 
writings is not now known. Whatever it was, it seems 
to have cost much money, and because of his violaticm 
of his vow of poverty Roger Bacon fell imder the ban of 
his order. He was ordered to be confined to his cell in 
the monastery and to be fed on bread and water for a 
considerable period. It must not be forgotten that this 
was within a century after the foundation of the Fran- 
ciscans, and to an ardent son of St Francis the living 
on bread and water would not be a very difficult thing 
at this time, since his ordinary diet would, at least dur- 
ing certain portions of the year, be scarcely better than 
this. There is no account of how Roger Bacon took his 
punishment He might easily have left his order. There 
were many others at that time who did. He wished to 
remain as a faithful son of St Francis, and seems to 
have accepted his punishment with the idea that his ex- 
ample would influence others of the order to submit to 
the enforcement of the regulation with regard to pov- 
erty, which superiors now thought so important, if the 
original spirit of St Francis was to be regained. 

It is sometimes said that Friar Bacon indulged in 
scientific speculations which seemed subversive of Chris- 


lysteries, and that this was one reason for his pun- 
fit Recently he has been declared the first of the 
nists since he attempted to rationalize religious 
ries. Whatever truth there may be in this, of one 
we are certain, that before his death Bacon deeply 
ted some of his expressions and theories, and did 
isitate to confess humbly that he was sorry to have 
seemed to hint at supposed science contrary to 
>us truth. 

course, it may well be said, even after all these 
unities of interest between the medieval and 
odem teaching of the general principles of science 
>een pointed out, that the universities of the Middle 
did not present the subjects under discussion in a 
cal way, and their teaching was not likely to lead 
3ctly beneficial results in applied science. It might 
e responded to this, that it is not the function of a 
rsity to teach applications of science, but only the 
principles, the broad generalizations that underlie 
ific thinking, leaving details to be filled in in what- 
orm of practical work the man may take up. Very 
f those, however, who talk about the purely specu- 
character of medieval teaching, have manifestly 
lade it their business to know anything about the ac- 
LCtsof old-time university teaching bydefinite knowl- 
but have rather allowed themselves to be guided 
jculation and by inadequate second-hand author- 
whose dicta they have never taken the trouble to 
mtiate by a glance at contemporary authorities on 
val matters, much less by reading the old scholas- 

V much was accomplished in applied science during 
iddle Ages, that is, in those departments of science 


which are usually supposed to have been least cultivated, 
since educators are prone to ridicule the over-emphasis of 
speculation in education and the constant preoccupation 
of mind of the scholars of these generations with merely 
theoretic questions, maybe appreciated from any history 
of the arts and architecture during the thirteenth, four- 
teenth, and fifteenth centuries. Some of the most diffi- 
cult problems in mechanics as applied to the structural 
work of cathedrals, palaces, castles, fortresses, and 
bridges, were solved with a success that was only equaled 
by the audacity with which they were attempted. Men 
hesitated at nothing. There is no problem of mechani- 
cal engineering as applied to structural work which 
these men did not find an answer for in their wonderful 
buildings. This has been very well brought out by 
Prince Kropotkin in certain chapters of his book, Mutual 
Aid a Factor of Evolution,^ in which he treats of mutual 
aid in the medieval cities. He says : 

"At the beginning of the eleventh century the towns 
of Europe were small clusters of miserable huts, adorned 
with but low clumsy churches, the builders of which 
hardly knew how to make an arch ; the arts, mostly con- 
sisting of some weaving and forging, were in their in- 
fancy ; learning was found in but a few monasteries. 
Three hundred and fifty years later, the very face of 
Europe had been changed. The land was dotted with 
rich cities, surrounded by immense thick walls which 
were embellished by towers and gates, each of them a 
work of art itself. The cathedrals, conceived in a grand 
style and profusely decorated, lifted their bell-towers to 
the skies, displaying a purity of form and a boldness of 
imagination which we now vainly strive to attain. The 

J New York. McClure. Philips & Co.. 1902. 


crafts and arts had risen to a degree of perfection which 
we can hardly boast of having superseded in many di- 
rections, if the inventive skill of the worker and the 
superior finish of his work be appreciated higher than 
rapidity of fabrication. The navies of the free cities 
furrowed in all directions the Northern Seas and the 
Southern Mediterranean ; one effort more and they would 
cross the oceans. Over large tracts of land, well-being 
had taken the place of misery ; learning had grown and 
spread ; the methods of science had been elaborated ; 
the basis of natural philosophy had been laid down ; and 
the way had been paved for all the mechanical inven- 
tions of which our own times are so proud." 

The period for which Prince Kropotkin is thus enthu- 
siastic in the matter of applied science, is all before the 
date usually given as the beginning of the Renaissance— 
the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The three centuries 
and a half from the beginning of the eleventh century 
represent just the time of the rise of scholasticism and 
the beginning of its decline. Few periods of history are 
80 maligned as regards their intellectual feebleness, and 
in nothing is that quality supposed to be more marked 
than in applied science ; yet here is what a special stu- 
dent of the time says of this very period in this par- 
ticular department. 

Kropotkin has shown just what were the limitations 
of scientific progress in the Middle Ages while empha- 
sizing how much these wonderful generations accom- 
plished. In this I am inclined to the opinion that he 
does not allow as much to the Middle Ages as he should. 
I have been able to point out, I think, in this chapter 
many evidences of important principles in science that 
were fully reached during the Middle Ages. Because of 

382 ^^E POPES AND 

his more conservative opinion in this matter, howeve, 
Kropotkin's opinion should carry all the mare w&i^ 
with those who are now called upon to realize £(»r the 
first time, how much these despised generations aeooni- 
plished in matters that were to prove a precious heritage 
for subsequent generations, and the foundation-stxmeB 
of that great edifice of science which has been baOt iip 
in more recent years. Kropotkin sagrs : 

''True that no new principle was illustrated by anyof 
these discoveries, as Whewell said ; but medieval sdenee 
had done something more than the actual discovery of 
new principles. It had prepared the discovery of alt the 
new principles which we know at the present time m 
mechanical sciences ; it had accustomed tihe explorer ta 
observe facts and to reason £rom them. It had mtalb- 
tive science, even though it had not yet fully graspei 
the importance and the powers of induction ; and it had 
laid the foundations of both mechanical and natmd 
philosophy. Francis Bacon, Galileo, and Copemicas 
were the direct descendants of a Roger Bacon and a 
Michael Scot, as the steam engine was a direct product 
of the researches carried on in the Italian imiversities 
on the weight of the atmosphere, and of the mathematical 
and technical learning which characterized Ntiremberg. 

But why should one take trouble to insist upon the 
advance of science and art in the medieval city ? Is it 
not enough to point to the cathedrals in the domain of 
skill, and to the Italian language and the poem of Dante 
in the domain of thought, to give at once the measure 
of what the medieval city created during the four cen- 
turies it lived?" 

We are prone to think of evolution in human affairs 
as being the ruling principle. As a consequence of this, 


we are apt to consider that since intervening periods be- 
tween the nineteenth century and the Middle Ages were 
lacking in education, in applied science, and in interest 
in physical science to a great degree, beyond doubt, then, 
the Middle Ages must have been still more lacking in these 
desirable qualities of education and human knowledge. 
This is the sort of deduction that greets one constantly 
in so-called histories of education, and especially in such 
supposed contributions to the history of the relationship 
of science to religion or theology as have been made here 
in America. This deduction, as I have said before, is 
made by men who are the first to asperse the medieval 
scholars for having used deduction too freely, and who 
are ever ready to praise induction. The induction in 
this matter— that is, the story of the actual history of 
science in the Middle Ages— is the direct contradiction 
of the deduction from false principles. Intervening 
centuries not only failed to progress beyond the Middle 
Ages, but some of them were far behind the achieve- 
ments of that unfortunately despised period. Once 
more Prince Kropotkin has touched this matter very 
suggestively. After describing the achievements of 
applied science in the Middle Ages, he says : 

* * Such were the magic changes accomplished in Europe 
in less than four hundred years. And the losses which 
Elurope sustained through the loss of its free cities can 
only be understood when we compare the seventeenth 
century with the fourteenth or thirteenth. The pros- 
perity which formerly characterized Scotland, Germany, 
the plains of Italy, was gone. The roads had fallen into 
an abject state, the cities were depopulated, labor was 
brought into slavery, art had vanished, commerce itself 
was decaying." 


In the meantime the reformation so-called had come, 
and had carried away with it in its course nearly every- 
thing precious that men had gained during the four cen- 
turies immediately preceding. Art, education, science, 
liberty, democracy— everything worth while had been 
hurt ; most of them had been ruined for the time. Even 
the nineteenth century did not succeed in bringing us 
back to a level with the earlier centuries in all the intel- 
lectual and esthetic accomplishments. 

Another striking evidence of the deep interest of these 
generations in science of all kinds and in details of in- 
formation with regard to which they are generally said 
to have been quite incurious, was the publication of the 
famous encyclopedia, the first work of its kind ever is- 
sued, which was written about the middle of the thir- 
teenth century by Vincent of Beauvais. It is only when 
a generation actually calls for it, and when the want of 
it has been for a good while felt, that such a work is 
likely to be undertaken. This immense literary under- 
taking was completed under the patronage of King 
Louis IX. by Vincent, a Dominican friar, who died at 
the beginning of the last quarter of the thirteenth cen- 
tury. His Majus Speculum is not the first book of general 
information, but it is the first deserving the name of 
Encyclopedia in the full sense of the word that we have. 
It is divided into three parts— the Speculum Naturale, 
Doctrinale, and Historiale. The only one which interests 
us here is the Speculum Naturale, which fills a huge folio 
volume of nearly a thousand pages, closely printed in 
double columns. It is divided into 32 books and some 
4,000 chapters. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica says 
of it :— 

''It was, as it were, the great temple of medieval 


le, whose floor and walls are inlaid with an enor- 
mosaic of skilfully arranged passages from Latin, 
c, Arabic, and even Hebrew authors. To each quo- 
i, as he borrows it, Vincent prefixes the name of 
KX)k and the author from which it is taken, dis- 
ishing, however, his own remarks by the word 

3 interest aroused by Vincent's compilation outside 
Sessional and educational circles strictly so-K^alled, 
e very well appreciated from the fact that, besides 
Louis's interest, his Queen Margaret, their son 
)and son-in-law, King Theobald V., of Champagne 
Navarre, were, according to tradition, among those 
encouraged him in the work and aided him in bear- 
le expenses of it It is rather curious to find that 
lethod of compilation was nearly the same as that 
)yed at the present day. Young men, mainly 
3ers of Vincent's own order of the Dominicans, 
engaged in collecting the material, collating refer- 
, and verifjdng quotations. The main burdeil of 
7ork, however, fell upon Vincent himself, and he 
dingly deserves the reputation for wonderful in- 
y which he has enjoyed. Much as he wrote, how- 
it does not exceed much in amount what was 
an by others of the great scholastics, and theirs 
)riginal material and not merely the collection of 

we had no other evidence of interest in nature and 
tural science than this great work of Vincent of 
/ais, it would be ample to show the absurdity of 
eneral impression that exists in the minds of most 
tists, and, unfortunately, also in the minds of many 
itors, with regard to the barrenness of interest of 


the Middle Age in natural phenomena. It might easily 
be imagined that this work of Vincent would have very 
little of interest for a modem scientist Any such anti- 
cipation is entirely due, however, to the false impression 
that exists with regard to the supposed ridiculously ab- 
surd views in matters of science entertained by the 
medieval scholars. Those who do not take their opinions 
on theory, but actually consult the books with regard to 
which they are ready to express themselves, have no 
such opinion. There has been much more interest in this 
class of books and in the scientific side of the literature 
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries during the 
last few years, and the consequence has been a complete 
reversal of opinions with regard to them, among German 
and French scholars. 

An excellent example of this is to be noted in Dr. 
Julius Pagel, who, in his chapter on Medicine in the 
Middle Ages, in Puschmann's Handbook of the History 
of Medicine, says: '* There were three writers whose 
works were even more popular than those of Albertus 
Magnus. These three were : Bartholomew the English- 
man, Thomas of Cantimprato, and Vincent of Beauvais, 
the last of whom must be considered as one of the most 
important contributors to the generalization of scientific 
knowledge, not alone in the thirteenth, but in the im- 
mediately succeeding centuries. His most important 
work was really an encyclopedia of the knowledge of his 
time. It was called the Greater Triple Mirror, and 
there is no doubt that it reflected very thoroughly the 
knowledge of his period. He had the true scientific 
spirit, and constantly cites the authorities from whom 
his information was derived. He cites hundreds of 
authors, and there is scarcely a subject that he does not 


touch on. One book of his work is concerned with 
human anatomy, and the concluding portion of it is an 
abbreviation of history carried down to the year 1250." 

It might be considered that such a compend of in- 
formation would be very dry-as-dust reading and that it 
would be fragmentary in character and little likely to 
be attractive except to a serious student. Dr. PagePs 
opinion does not agree with this a priori impression. He 
says with regard to Vincent's work : " The language is 
clear, readily intelligible, and the information is con- 
veyed usually in an excellent, simple style. Through 
the introduction of interesting similes the contents do 
not lack a certain taking quality, so that the reading of 
the work easily becomes absorbing.'' This is, I suppose, 
abnost the last thing that might be expected of a sci- 
entific teacher in the thirteenth century, because, after 
all, Vincent of Beauvais must be considered as one of 
the schoolmen, and they are supposed to be eminently 
arid, but evidently, since we must trust this testimony 
of a discerning modem German physician, only by those 
who have not taken the trouble to read them. 

Vincent of Beauvais was not the only one to occupy 
himself with work of an encyclopedic character during 
the thirteenth century. At least two other clergymen 
gave themselves up to the life-long work of collecting 
details of information so as to make them available for 
ready reference in their own times and for succeeding 
generations. The very fact that three men should have 
taken up such a task, shows that there must have been 
a loud call for this sort of writing, and that there must 
have been a veritable thirst for information among the 
educated classes of the time. Such books, as we have 
said, are not created without a demand for them, though 


they undoubtedly serve in turn to awaken a greater 
thirst for the information which they purvey. The other 
two encyclopedists of the time are Thomas CantipnlaDa 
and Bartholomaeus Anglicus, the Englishman. 

Thomas of Cantimprato's work was probably published 
about 1260. Von TOply, in his Studies in Anatomy in 
the Middle Ages, has the most readily available informa- 
tion with regard to Thomas's work.^ The woric of moat 
interest to us is the De Natura Berum, a single large 
volume in twenty books. It required some fifteen yean 
of work, and for some fifteen years before he began hia 
work on it Thomas had been writing various historical 
and biographical works. Thomas's encyclopedic vohime 
contains one book with regard to anatomy, one with 
regard to human monsters, and books with regard to 
quadrupeds, birds, marine monsters, fishes, serpents, 
worms, ordinary trees, aromatic and medicinal plants 
and the virtues of herbs, and of curative waters of variooa 
kinds. Then there are books on precious stones and 
their cutting, on the seven regions and the humors of 
the air, on the earth and the seven planets, and on the 
four elements and the Heavens and eclipses of the sun 
and moon. When such a work was published for general 
reading, it is easy to understand that no phase of in- 
formation with regard to nature failed to be of interest 
to readers of the thirteenth century. Much that is ab- 
surd is contained in the book. But when we compare it 
with books written in the early part of the eighteenth 
century, we are apt to wonder rather at how little ad- 
vance had taken place in the four centuries of interval, 
than at the ignorance of the medieval writer. 

1 Stodien snr Geschichte der AnatomSe fan Mittdaltcr too BdlMrt Bittv wm 
T(Vply. Leipsiff and Wien. Fnns Deaticke, 1898. 


We have been able, of course, in this limited space to 
give only a modicum of the evidence for the cultivation 
of the Physical Sciences at the Medieval Universities, 
and their records in monumental works still extant ; but 
this will probably be enough to enable those who are in- 
terested in the subject to realize its significance and to 
gather further material if they so wish. The universities 
were ecclesiastical institutions. Most of them derived 
their authority to give degrees directly from the Popes. 
Appeals were frequently made to the Popes with regard 
to the discipline and the teaching at the universities. 
Most of the great teachers of physical science were ec- 
clesiastics. Nearly all the students were clerics. Many 
of those who were most successful in science reached 
high preferment in the Church. Evidently the pursuit 
of science did not prejudice their advancement, either in 
their orders, when they belonged to any of the various 
religious orders, or in the Church itself. They were the 
near and dear friends of archbishops, cardinals and 
Popes. This is entirely contrary to the ordinary im- 
pression in the matter ; but this is the plain truth, while 
the contrary opinions are founded on the false assump- 
tion of Church opposition to science. 


Even after the series of demonstrations which we 
have given that the great thinkers and teachers at the 
medieval universities were deeply interested in the 
problems of what we now call natural or physical sci- 
ence, most people will still not be open to conviction that 
interest in nature was quite as lively in the Middle Ages 
as at any subsequent period, even our own. In spite of 
the fact that the scholastics faced scientific questions in 
nearly the same mood as we do ourselves, and, curiously 
enough, anticipated very closely many of the doctrines 
now current in science, not a few of those who are most 
interested in the history of education will continue to 
think that science occupied the minds of the studentsat the 
medieval universities very little, and that while the great 
thinkers may have known something about it, the rank 
and file of the university men of the time gave scarcely 
any thought to it. Besides, they will be almost sure to 
conclude that, whatever they did think was likely to be 
inept, and in most cases quite ridiculous. Such thoughts 
are a part of that unfortunate educational tradition 
which stamps the Middle Ages as neglectful of nature 
study, as we would call it now, and as lacking in inter- 
est in natural phenomena. Nothing could well be less 
true, and it will require, I think, but the simple tracing 
of the life and erudition of a single well-known student 
of these medieval universities, to show how utterly ab- 
surd and unfounded is the popular belief. 



I have chosen Dante for this purpose, mainly because 
80 much more is known about the personal details of his 
life than of anyone else, and we are able to glean from 
his writings and the contemporary comments on them, 
a good idea of what the general information on scientific 
subjects of the educated man of his period was. The 
fact that Dante was a member of the Guild of the 
Apothecaries in Florence, an association that included 
also the physicians of the city, has added an adventitious 
interest to his attractions as one of the few greatest of 
poets of all time, and has made details of his career and 
evidence of the breadth of his education and culture of 
special import, so that I have frequently taken occasion 
to call the attention of physicians to the honor implied 
by Dante^s fraternal relation to us. His membership in 
the Guild of the Apothecaries, however, did not call for 
any special knowledge of science on his part. He had 
nothing to do with the sale of drugs, much less with the 
science of medicine. Originally the Italian apothecaries, 
as the Greek origin of the word indicates, were shop- 
keepers selling all sorts of things— edible, adorning, or 
useful for personal service. They sold drugs also, and 
as some of these were imported from the East, they 
commonly added to their stock certain other Eastern 
specialties— perfumes, gems and the like. In this way 
they soon became wealthy, as a rule, and indeed the 
name of the rich Florentine family who came eventually 
to rule their native city— the Medici— is said to be de- 
rived from similar connections. It was the sons of these 
men who became the upper middle classes in Florence. 
Perhaps one should say they became the upper classes, 
for Florence had no nobility, in the proper sense of the 
word, and men made their own positions. Their de- 


scendants became the men of eidtorei until finally the 
Florentine Guild of the Apothecaries represented the 
most intelligent dass of the population of the dty. 
During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, then, 
most of the artists, the literary men, the architects, the 
sculptors, were members of the guild Dante's occapa- 
tion when he was a peaceful citiz^i of Florence was, 
according to tradition, that of architect, and one build- 
ing designed by him is supposed to be still in existence 
in Florence. 

Dante should represent for us, then, what an architect 
in Florence at the end of the thirteentl^ century knew 
about natural science, as the result of his school and 
university training. In our time, architects are likely 
to know more about certain forms of physical science 
than most other people, and due allowance would have 
to be made for this in Dante's case. It will be found, 
though, as we discuss his erudition, that the sciences in 
vfhich he was particularly interested— astronomy and 
various phases of biology with physical geography- 
were not those which appeal esi)ecially to an architect, 
and certainly have no relation to his occupation. His 
knowledge of flowers might be thought to be due to his 
wish to use floral forms for structural decorative pur- 
poses, but Dante is rather weak for a poet in the matter 
of the description of flowers, and it is only from the 
side of their color that they made any special appeal 
to him. 

Most people have been led to think of Dante as not a 
student of nature, because that impression would inevi- 
tably be gathered from certain passages of John Ruskin 
with regard to him. Ruskin was so faithful and loving 
a student of Dante that he would be expected not to be 


mistaken in such a matter, nor is he ; but he has dwelt 
overmuch on certain phases of Dante's lack of interest 
in nature, until the great Florentine's devotion to crea- 
tion as he saw it around him is obscured. It is not dif- 
ficult to show, from Dante's own writings, how much he 
was interested in nearly every phase of nature and 
natural phenomena. In the ''Westminster Review" 
for July and August, 1907, Mr. George Trobridge, in 
articles on Dante as a Nature Poet, has furnished abun- 
dant evidence to prove his thesis, though he too has felt 
the necessity for apologizing for even apparently differ- 
ing from so great a critic and such an enthusiastic Dante 
student as Ruskin. Dante's works, however, themselves 
can be the only appeal in this matter, and Mr. Trobridge 
has used them with good effect and in such a way as to 
carry to anyone the conviction that Dante was a pro- 
found student of nature in all her moods and tenses. 
Mr. Trobridge says in the introduction : 

" It will appear presumptuous in the present writer to 
differ from so great a critic and such an enthusiastic 
student of Dante as Ruskin, but it seems to him that 
the author of Modem Painters has done scant justice to 
the intense insight of the poet into the beauties of the 
world we live in and his wonderful power of expressing 
what he saw. There are few even modem poets who 
have taken so wide a view of the field of nature, and 
even Shakespeare himself scarcely excells the great 
Florentine in felicity and concentration of expression. 
The Divina Commedia is full of vivid pictures covering 
the whole range of natural phenomena. As these pass 
before our eyes, we can scarcely realize that the painter 
of them is not of our own day, so thoroughly does he 
enter into the spirit of modem landscape art Some- 


times his pictures are momentary impressions— studies 
of effects painted with a large brush ; at others his touch 
is of a Preraphaelitic nicety, and now and then he gives 
us a studied composition full of doubtful detail like <me 
of Turner's landscapes. He was one with Wordsworth 
in his sincere delight in every form of natural beauty. 
Like him, he lived beneath the habitual sway of foun- 
tains, meadows, hills and groves ; with him he saw the 
' splendor in the grass' and the 'glory in the flower.' 
He could ' feel the gladness of the May ' and rejoiced in 
' the innocent brightness of a new day. ' '* 

In the matter of science as distinct from poetic in- 
terest in nature, quite as much can be said for Dante. 
This greatest of Italian poets is a fair example to take 
of the university man of the thirteenth century in this 
respect He was thirty-five before the first century of 
university existence properly so-called closed. He may be 
considered a tyi^ical product of university life. It is true 
he had had the almost inestimable advantage of the 
schooling and culture of his native Florence, where at 
the end of the thirteenth century there were more chil- 
dren, it is said, in attendance at the schools to the nimi- 
ber of the population than there is at the present 
moment even in most of our American cities. Brother 
Azarias in his Essays Educational,^ said : 

'*In the thirteenth century, out of a population of 
90,000 in Florence, we find 12,000 children attending the 
schools, a ratio of school attendance as large as existed 
in New York City, in the year of Grace 1893." This 
ratio, it may be said, is as great as is ordinarily to be 
found anywhere, and this fact alone may serve to show 

1 Esaays Educational, by Brother Azariaa, with Preface by Hia Eminence Cardinal 
Gibbons. Chicaflfo. D. H. McBrido & Co., 1906. 


how earnest were these medieval burghers for the edu- 
cation of their children. Dante had the 'advantage of 
this, and in addition, of the training at two or three of 
the universities at least of Italy, besides spending some 
time at Paris, and probably a visit at least to Oxford. 

Lest it should be thought that perhaps Brother Aza- 
rias gave too favorable an estimate in his account of the 
schools in Florence, though he quotes as his authority 
Villani, and other authorities are readily available, it 
seems worth while to give a very interesting reference 
to this subject of education in one of the notes in Prince 
Kropotkin's chapter on Mutual Aid in the Medieval City, 
from his book Mutual Aid a Factor in Evolution, a work 
that we have placed under contribution a number of 
times already in this attempt to picture medieval condi- 
tions as they were in reality, and not in the foolish 
imaginings of outworn traditions. Kropotkin's studies 
in what the free cities accomplished by the union of the 
guilds for every fraternal purpose, and the coordination 
of their citizens for every detail of the commonweal, has 
made him realize that conmion or public school educa- 
tion was an important feature of medieval free city life, 
and strange as that fact may appear to many modem 
minds, that such public school education occupied at 
least as prominent a position as it does with us in our 
own time. In the quotation from him it will be seen 
that he considers that Florence was not alone in this 
matter, and he ventures to place Nuremberg on a level 
with her. Doubtless other German cities, as certainly 
other Italian cities, provided similar facilities for general 

Kropotkin says: *'In 1336 it (Florence) had 8,000 to 
10,000 boys and girls in its primary schools, 1,000 to 


1,200 boys in its seven middle schools^ and from 660 to 
600 students in its four universities. The thirty com- 
munal hospitals contained over 1,000 beds for a popular 
tion of 90,000 inhabitants. (Capponi, iL 243 seq.) It 
has more than once been suggested by authoritative 
writers, that education stood, as a rule, at a much higher 
level than is generally supposed. Certainly so in demo- 
cratic Nuremberg." 

The content of this educational system is our main 
subject of interest at the present moment 

''Seven hundred young men received the hi^rher edu- 
cation. (This in a city of less than 100,000 inhabitants. 
How do our cities of 100,000 inhabitants compare with 
it?) The very spirit of the arts was scholastic in 
Dante's day. You read the story in the oratory of 
Orsanmichele, in which each art with its masterpiece 
receives a crown ; you read it in the chapters of Santa 
Maria Novella, in Gaddi's painting of the Trivium and 
Quadrivium ; you read it in Giotto's sculpture of the 
same subject upon this marvelous campanile. Here was 
the atmosphere in which Dante's boyhood and early 
manhood were passed." 

We shall not be surprised, then, to find in Dante, the 
typical product of this form of education, an interest in 
every form of erudition and in all details of information. 

I have preferred to take the evidence for Dante's 
knowledge of science from others, rather than attempt 
to supply it entirely by means of quotations from his 
works. This latter would be the most scholarly way, 
but Dante is not easy reading even in a good translation, 
and one needs to be familiar with his modes of expres- 
sion and to be accustomed to the wonderful compression 
of his style to appreciate his full significance. There is 


no lack of good authorities, however, who have made 
deep studies in Dante, to bring out for us the complete 
import of all the references to the science of his time, 
which Dante was tempted to make. We have perhaps 
been prone to think, in English-speaking countries, that 
no poets have ever kept more thoroughly in touch with 
the progress of science, or at least have ever used refer- 
ences to scientific details with more accuracy, than some 
of our own nineteenth century poets. A little study of 
the first great poet of modem times, in whom Carlyle 
said "ten silent centuries found a voice," though Dante 
by no means stands alone in the century, but is the cul- 
mination of a series of great poets, will show that he 
probably must be considered as taking the palm even 
from our most modem of poets in this respect If the 
expressions in text-books of the history of education are 
to be accepted as evidence of the thoughts of educators 
with regard to the details of education in Dante's time, 
even a brief sketch of Dante's scientific knowledge will 
be a supreme surprise to them. 

As will be at once appreciated, Dante was not a spe- 
cialist in science, but used the knowledge of science cur- 
rent in his day in order to drive home his thoughts by 
means of figures. It is surprising, however, what a 
marvelous display of scientific knowledge, entirely with- 
out pedantry, which anyone who knows his supreme 
compression of style will realize to be the fault Dante is 
least liable to, was thus made by this educated literary 
man of the thirteenth century. Dr. L. Oscar Kuhns, 
Professor in Wesleyan University, has in his little book 
The Treatment of Nature in Dante's Divina Commedia, 
suggested a comparison between Dante and Goethe.^ 

1 Tlie Treatment of Nature in Dante's Divina Commedia, by L. Oscar Kuhns, 
Profeaacr in Wesleyan University. Middletown, U. S. A. Edward Arnold, London 
and New York, 1897. 



Everyone realizes at once how profound a scientist wdB 
Goethe. Professor Kuhns' comparison, then, will briog 
out the scientific qualities of this great medieval poet 
who is the representative scholar of the universities of 
his time. 

"There is perhaps no innate contradiction between 
science and poetry, but it is not often that they aie 
found together in the same man. Dante, like Goetiie^ 
half a millennium later, was not only drawn by the 
beauty of nature, but he had likewise an unquenehaMe 
intellectual Curiosity, and sought diligently to imder* 
stand the meaning of the universe in which he lived 

"No other poet has ever combined the loftiest poetry 
with the discussion of such complicated topics in all 
branches of learning. In one place we find a long dis- 
cussion of the origin and development of life, which, 
naive and scholastic as it is, shows some lines of resem- 
blance to the modem doctrines in biology ; in another 
place there is a learned discussion between the poet and 
Beatrice concerning the cause of the spots in the moon, 
in which an actual experiment in optics is given." 

The first passage to which Professor Kuhns refers, 
while containing many speculative elements, is a discus- 
sion of certain important basic problems in biology that 
have always appealed to thinking men at every i)eriod 
of the history of science, and never more so than in our 
own day. They must still be considered undecided, 
though many volumes have been written on them in the 
last century. There are thoughts in Dante's exposition 
of the subject that are startling enough to the modem 
biologist, and that make it clear how much men's minds 
run along the same grooves in facing questions that we 
are prone to think have occurred to men only in the last 


few generations. The other quotation to which Profes- 
sor Kuhns refers deserves to be quoted entire. It is 
perhaps even more striking because of its actual de- 
scription of an experiment in optics, which shows how 
much this great poetic intelligence of the medieval time, 
usually supposed to be so abstracted and occupied with 
things other-worldly and supernal, Hving his intellectual 
life quite beyond the domain of sense, still remembered 
the teachings of his university days, and even recalled 
the details of demonstrations that he had seen. The 
passage occurs in the II. canto of the Paradiso, begin- 
ning with line 97 : 

''Take thou three mirrors, two of them remove 

From thee an equal distance, and the last 
Between the two, and further from thee move ; 

And turned towards them let a light be cast. 
Behind thy back, upon those mirrors three. 

So that from all reflected rays are passed. 
Then, though the light which furthest stands from 

May not with them in magnitude compete, 
Yet will it shine in brightness equally. '* 

It is easy to understand, then, that Professor Kuhns 
should have been enthusiastic with regard to Dante's 
knowledge of science. He says : 

"The whole structure of Hell, Purgatory, and Para- 
dise shows a thorough knowledge of the Ptolemaic sys- 
tem ; and we invariably find astronomical facts, mingled 
with classical quotations, in the description of stellar 
phenomena. But not only in specific passages do we 
find evidence of Dante's love for science, but in brief 
allusions to the various aspects of nature— metaphors, 


figures, descriptions— a word or two is added, giving tibe 
cause of the phencmienon in question. Examples of 
this abound" 

It is with regard t6 astronomy, of course, that Dante 
has given us the most convincing evidence of his knowl* 
edge of science, his interest in nature and nataral 
phenomena, his questioning spirit in nature study, and 
the wonderful anticipations of his generation with re- 
gard to knowledge that has usually been supposed to 
have been hidden from them. The stars appealed to 
his poetic spirit, and then besides, his great poem occa- 
pied itself with all the visible universe, and especui^ 
with the parts outside this world. FroteBaor Kufans hw 

' ' One may confidently assert that no such perfect lines 
descriptive of the stars have ever been written. Shake- 
speare and others can furnish famous passages^ but 
none, I think, equal to those of Dante. They have aD 
the quality of his art— ^ truth, clearness, possessing the 
power of touching deeply the imagination, yet terse and 
compact, containing not a word too much. We see the 
stars at all hours of the night, in all degrees of bril- 
liancy, fading away at the approach of dawn, gradually 
appearing as twilight comes on, shining with splendor 
on a moonless night, keenly sparkling after the winds 
have cleared the atmosphere, or eclipsed by the greater 
effulgence of the moon. The motion of the constella- 
tions about the pole is referred to, those which are 
nearest to it never setting beneath the horizon/' 

It is often thought that the proper idea of the explana- 
tion of the Milky Way was quite modem. Dante, how- 
ever, discusses in his Convito the theories of it that had 
been suggested up to his time, and then gives his own 


views, which he confesses are founded on Aristotle, but 
which are evidently the result also of his own thinking. 
Pythagoras, he said, attributed it to the scorching heat 
of the sun, as if somehow this left a trace of itself even 
after the sun had sunk. Other Greek philosophers, as 
for example Anaxagoras and Democritus, explained it 
as a reflection of the light of the sun which still found 
its way even though that luminary had passed from 
sight Dante himself says that, following Aristotle, he 
cannot help but think that the Milky Way is composed 
of a multitude of minute stars which are gathered very 
closely together in this particular part of the heavens, 
and which are so small that they cannot be distinguished 
from one another, though their light causes that special 
white luminosity which we call the Milky Way. This 
explanation is the true one, only that the apparent 
smallness of the stars are due to their distance, and not 
to their actual minuteness of size. 

A brief list of the other astronomical phenomena men- 
tioned by Dante has been made by Professor Kuhns. 
This serves to show very clearly that Dante's knowledge 
with regard to the heavens was quite as extensive as 
that of the modem educated man, indeed, probably more 
so, and that it was quite as exact The little touch 
which shows that he knew, for instance, that August 
is the month when shooting stars are more frequent, is 
wonderfully illuminating. His powers of observation 
are brought out by his having seen them during the day 
as well as at night In all this it must not be forgotten 
that Dante was no mere pedant making a display of his 
knowledge ; that he was not one to parade his erudi- 
tion for the sake of show ; that indeed no one has ever 
written so compressedly as he ; that every word that he 


used counts in bringing out his meaning, and yet that 
we find all this wealth of information with tiegani t» 
astronomy in a bool^ that was meant to proclaim, and 
has, in the opinion of men for all time since* exprosaed 
more sublimely the significance of man's relatkma to tiie 
xmiverse and his reflections on the infinite in lofty pcetie 
thought, than any other that was ever written. Pro- 
fessor Kuhns says : 

" The other celestial phenomena mentioned by Dante 
may be dismissed briefly. We have references to tiie 
eclipse and its cause, and the Blessed in the Heaven of 
the Fixed Stars flame brightly, a guiaa dieomOm (in the 
guise of a comet). Shooting-sturs are referred to se?- 
eral times, almost invariably as a conventional figure 
for rapidity. August is the month when they are the 
most frequent, and they are most seen to shoot witii 
lightninglike swiftness across the serene blue dqr or 
pierce the clouds that gather around tiie setting sun. 
One fine passage describes the spectator following them 
with his eyes as they lose themselves in the distance." 
It is no wonder, then, that Prof. Kuhns should be quite 
enthusiastic with regard to Dante's use of astronomical 
knowledge. He insists, however, that while it was his 
poetic soul and Iovq for the stars that tempted him to 
allow his thoughts to wander so frequently into the 
realm of the celestial bodies, his interest was always 
' profoundly scientific. His passage to this effect is worth 
while quoting in extenso, because it brings out this fact 
very clearly. As Prof. Kuhns* only idea in this was to 
show how marvelously the representative poet of the 
Middle Ages turned to nature in his poetry, and there 
was no thought of controverting the foolish notions of 
those who so lightly declare that the students of the 


Middle Age universities knew nothing of science, the 
paragraph is a bit of very striking evidence in this 

'* l3ante's love for the stars was largely scientific ; he 
knew thoroughly the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, 
which forms the framework of the whole structure of 
the Paradiso. We find constant and accurate allusions 
to the constellations, their various shapes and positions 
in the heavens ; while the hour of the day and the 
season of the year are often referred to in terms of 
astronomical science, frequently interwoven with myth- 
ology. But besides this scientific interest, he was deeply 
touched by the beauty, the mystery and the tranquilizing 
power of the celestial orbs. There is hardly a phase of 
them that he has not touched upon ; many of his descrip- 
tions and allusions have a truth and vividness unsur- 
passed even in this present day of nature^ worship. 
Here, as elsewhere in the Divina Commedia, science and 
learning and poetry go hand in hand. We have no mere 
dry catalogue of facts, but the wonderful mechanism of 
the starry heavens is brought before our eyes, rolling its 
spheres in celestial harmony, radiant with light and 
splendour, while the innumerable company of angels 
and the 'spirits of just men made perfect' raise the 
chorus of praise to the Alto Fattore.'* 

We cannot but add the reflection that, as our own 
poets of the nineteenth century indulged themselves in 
figures drawn from science not only because of their own 
interest in the subject, but because they realized the 
interest of the men of their time in matters scientific 
and appreciated that figures drawn from them would 
add to the significance of their own thoughts, so Dante 
would not have used figures drawn from science only 


that, closely in touch as he was witii the educated mea 
of his time in many dties and countries^ he f^ that he 
would thus not only be adding to the interest of his 
work, but would be making his own meaning deazerlqr 
a wealth of allusion from things sdenti&s. This is in- 
deed the side of this study of Dante that deserves the 
most thorough consideration by educators in our time, 
if they would understand what the real spirit of the 
teaching of science in the medieval universities was^ and 
what the attitude of educated people of the time to^ 
ward nature study, which has been so egregioody mis- 
represented by those who know nothing at all about it, 
must be considered to have been. All this we mosl 
judge, however, from contemporary soureee^ and not 
from subsequent supercilious misrepresentatimia. 

It must not be thought, however, that Dante's inter- 
est in sdence was exhausted by his exeursiona into 
astronomy. This has already be^i more than hinted at 
in some of the passages quoted, which show his interest 
in other phases of science. In the modem time, how- 
ever, it is almost the rule, that if a scholar who is not a 
scientist, and especially if he happens to be, as Dante 
was, a literary man, indulges in some scientific pursuits, 
he has at most but an interest in one branch of science. 
Quite as often as not he rather prides himself on know- 
ing nothing at all about this department of knowledge. 
Specialism has invaded even scientific education, and 
a man specializes in some favorite department of science 
for his avocation, and is apt to know very little about 
other departments. Dante was not thus constituted, 
however. It will be comparatively easy to show that 
every form of scientific thought interested him, and 
that his love of nature led him into nature study, in the 


best sense of that very modem term, and caused him 
to make observations for himself, or so retain the ob- 
servations of others that he had heard or read, that he 
was able to use them very forcibly and appropriately in 
the figurative language of his great poem. 

Alexander von Humboldt, the distinguished German 
naturalist and leader of scientific thought in the early 
nineteenth century, whose compliment to Albertus 
Magnus, quoted in the chapter on Science at the Medie- 
val Universities, is probably a surprise to most people, 
but serves to show how wide was the reading of this 
great scientist, was also an attentive student of Dante, 
and has a passage with regard to the Florentine poet's 
knowledge of science quite as striking as that with re- 
gard to the great scholastic's excursions into the same 
field. In his Cosmos he has the following tribute to 
Dante as a student of nature and as a loving observer of 
natural phenomena : 

"When the story of the Arabic, Greek or Roman 
dominion— or, I might almost say, when the ancient 
world had passed away, we find in the great and inspired 
founder of a new era, Dante Alighieri, occasional mani- 
festations of the deepest sensibility to the charms of the 
terrestrial life of nature, whenever he abstracts himself 
from the passionate and subjective control of that de- 
spondent mysticism which constituted the general circle 
of his ideas." 

With regard to the famous description of the river of 
light in the thirtieth canto of the Paradiso, Humboldt 
declared that the picture must have been suggested to 
Dante by the phosphorescence seen so beautifully and so 
luxuriantly in the Adriatic Sea at times. The passage 
itself is so beautiful and is so well worth the reading a 


second time, even for those who have read it bef oie, 
that I give it a place here» followed by Humboldt's 

I saw a glory like a stream flow by. 

In brightness rushing, and on either shore 
3Vere banks that with spring's wondrous hues might vie. 

And from that river living sparks did soar. 
And sank on all sides on the floweret's bloom. 

Like precious rubies set in gold^ ore. 
Then, as if drunk with all the rich perfume. 

Back to the wondrous torrent did they roll, 
And as one sank another filled its room. 

Dean Plumptre says that Humboldt's suggestion with 
regard to this description has not been found elsewhere, 
and as it adds to the completeness of the idea conveyed 
by the figure, he gives it a place in his studies and 
estimates of Dante. Humboldt said : 

** It would almost seem as if this picture had its origin 
in, the poet's recollection of that peculiar and rare phos- 
phorescent condition of the ocean when luminous ix)ints 
appear to rise from the breaking waves, and, spreading 
themselves over the surface of the waters, convert the 
liquid plain into a moving sea of sparkling stars." 

It is with regard to the little things in life, particularly 
those that are so small that one would be tempted to 
think at first blush that Dante paid no attention to them 
at all, that his powers of observation as a student of 
nature, and his all-pervading love for every even smallest 
manifestation of her power, is especially made manifest 
With regard to this subject, Prof. Kuhns, to whom I 
have already turned so often, has an illuminating pas- 


sage, which sums up a large amount of reading of the 
poet He says : 

**The smallest members of the animal kingdom do 
not escape the observing eye of the poet, and such un- 
poetical insects as the flea, the gnat, and the fly are 
brought into use. By means of these latter he has ac- 
curately given the time of day and season of the year in 
one line, where, showing us the farmer lying on the 
hillside of a summer evening, looking down upon the 
valley alight with fire-flies, he says the time was that 

* When the fly yields to the gnat' 

Those pests of dogs, the flea and hornet, are referred to 
in a passage already given, where the dog is seen snap- 
ping and scratching in agony. The butterfly was sym- 
bolical, during the Middle Ages, of tha death and resur- 
rection of the body. The various phases of its development 
are referred to by Dante ; the caterpillar state, the 
latter referring to the cocoon of the silk- worm, furnish- 
ing a figure for the souls in Paradise, swathed in light ; 
in one passage, backsliding Christians are compared to 
insects in a state of arrested development" 

Dante's passage in the tenth canto of the Purgatorio, 
in which he compares man to the butterfly, who in this 
life passes through the caterpillar stage, passing in 
death, as it were, into the larval stage when in his coffin 
he is motionless and apparently dead, as the insect in 
its cocoon, yet finally reaching the glory of the resur- 
rection in the winged butterfly stage, shows how well 
these medieval observers of nature had studied carefully 
aspects of nature which we are apt to think were holden 
entirely from their eyes. The passage would remind one 
of the story of the Jesuit, three centuries later, who, in 



the early days of miscdoiiary work in tfais ooontzy, 
wondered how he would obtain a fitting word to expxeBB 
to the Indians the abstract idea of theresurrecti<mof fbe 
body. The good Father finally recalled his Dant^ and 
having found a caterpillar that had entered into the larval 
stage after having spun its cocoon and wrapped itself 
round with its shroud to lie down in what is a stalking 
similitude of death, presented it to tiie Indians^ and 
then having waited until the butterfly came out» asked 
them what they called this process, and applied the 
word for it to the resurrection. Dante says :— 

" Perceive ye not we are of a wormlike IdnAt 
Bom to bring forth, the angel butterfly. 

That soars to Judgment, and no screen doth find ? 
Why doth your soul lift up itself <»i high 7 

Ve are as insects yet but hidf complete, 
As worms in whom their growth fails utterly. *' 

It is with regard to bees and ants, however, that 
Dante's observant love of nature and of natury study is 
especially to be admired. It is true, as has been often 
pointed out, that the older poets, of whom Dante was an 
assiduous and mindful reader, made use of figures with 
i'egard to bees, and Virgil, with all of whose works Dante 
was so intimately acquainted that nothing must have es- 
caped him, devoted one of the four books of his Georgics to 
what is practically a treatise on Apiculture, In this most 
of the problems of bee raising are discussed. Lucretius, 
Lucan, and Ovid, all made use of this interesting insect 
for figures in their poetry. Dante might have obtained 
most of the references to the bee, then, from his reading. 
Prof. Kuhns is of the opinion, however, that some at 


least of Dante's references to them are due tx> his obser- 
vations, quite apart from his literary reminiscences with 
regard to their habits and instincts. He says :— 

"There are certain touches in the Divina Ck)nmiedia' 
which seem to prove that Dante's use of them was not 
entirely conventional In the wonderful passage where 
he stands contemplating 

'La forma general di Paradisp/ 

he saw the Blessed in the shape of a great white rose on 
the banks of the river of light; and the white-robed 
angels, with wings of gold and faces of flame, as they fly 
unceasingly back and forth from- the seats of the saints 
to the effulgent river, are compared to bees, following 
their inborn instinct to make honey, flying from flower 
to flower, burying themselves in the chalice, and then 
rising heavily to carry their burden to their hives. In 
another passage their buzzing noise is compared to the 
noise of a distant waterfall;"— a touch of nature that 
could only have come from familiarity with the insects. 
In is with regard to ants even more than bees that 
Dante's proclivities for nature study are most evident 
When in the Purgatorio, in the twenty-sixth canto, Dante 
would describe the meeting of souls in Paradise who 
kiss each other as they speed on their way, he compares 
them to the ants who as they meet one another touch an- 
tennae, thus communicating various messages, and then 
go on their way. The passage is very striking because, as 
Dean Plumptre remarks, the picture drawn reminds one 
almost of Sir John Lubbock'15 ant studies, or the remark- 
able descriptions of ant life in Bishop Ken's Hjminotheo. 
Dante's lines are as follows :— 



" So oft, within their dusk brown host proceed 
This ant and that, till muzzle muzzle meet ; 
Spying their way, or how affairs succeed/' 

Thus did Dante know the whole round of science in 
his time better than any modem university man. People 
who take exception to his knowledge fail to realize its 
environment They may smile a little scornfully now at 
his complacent acceptance of the Ptolemaic system with- 
out a question, but it must not be forgotten that for 
three centuries after his time educated men still con- 
tinued to accept it, and that even the distinguished 
Jesuit astronomer, Clavius, to whom we owe the Gregor- 
ian reformation *of the calendar and the restoration of 
the year to its proper place as regards the heavens, not 
only accepted it but worked out his calendar reform 
problems by means of it Clavius's great contemporary, 
Tycho-Brahe, the distinguished Danish astronomer, 
found no reason to reject it Even Lord Bacon, who 
with perverted historical sense is still proclaimed the 
father of modem experimental science, also accepted the 
Ptolemaic system, and found that it thoroughly explained 
all the phenomena of the heavens, while he rejected the 
Copemican system, then nearly a century before the 
world, because he thought it did not The surprise, how- 
ever, is not in Dante's knowledge of astronomy, but in 
his familiarity with, details of biology that enables him 
to reason, though in poetic* language, with straightfor- 
ward and logical directness with regard to basic thought 
in this science that is usually considered so thoroughly 

Another surprising feature is the knowledge of the 
habits of birds and of insects. Our modem students of 


nature are supposed to be the first who went deeply 
enough into these subjects to make them material for 
literature. Here, however, is Dante describing, in a few 
picturesque words, characteristic peculiarities of birds 
and insects, which our modem writers spend pages over, 
yet tell us scarcely more about them. A little knowledge 
of Dante is evidently the best antidote that our genera- 
tion can have for that foolish persuasion that the Middle 
Ages were ignorant of science and that the universities 
taught nothing but nonsense about nature. 

I am tempted to add just a few pargraphs with regard 
to another aspect of Dante's scientific interests which 
assimilates him to the modern educated man. Education 
itself would seem to be one of the sciences the develop- 
ment of which was surely left to a late and more con- 
scious age. There are, however, as has been pointed 
out by Brother Azarias, quite enough materials in Dante's 
works to show that a serious student who was, however, 
only a literary man and not an educator, had many 
thoughts with regard to the practical side of education, 
and had come to many conclusions with regard to how 
it should be carried on,' that are anticipations of the most 
fruitful thoughts of our modern educators and that have 
formed the subject of many theses on education down 
to our own day. Education is, of course, scarcely one 
of the physical sciences, yet since its subject-matter is 
mainly the child and the developing human intellect, 
and in that sense it is nature study in its highest form, 
this aspect of Dante's thinking also deserves to be given 
due weight here. Brother Azarias says :— 

"It is the mission of the poet to reflect in his work 
the predominant, all-pervading spirit and views of his 
age. Now, in his day, the universities were the con- 


trolling element in thought, in art» in politics, moulding 
the thinkers and rulers of the age both in church and 
state. But Dante was a life-long student He travded 
from land to land and from school to school, and sat im- 
patiently, yet humbly, at the feet of masters, imbibing 
whatever knowledge they could convey. He disputed in 
public. His bright eyes and strong, sombre, reserved 
features attracted the attention of fellow students as he 
wended his way, absorbed in his own thoughts, throue^ 
the rue de Fouarre and entered the hall in which Siger 
was holding forth. Tradition has it that he was no less 
assiduous a frequenter of School Street in Oxford. He 
has left us no distinct treatise on education ; but he who 
embodied all the science of his day, who was supreme in 
teaching so many other lessons, could not be silent in 
regard to pedagogy. From his writings a whole volume 
of rules and principles bearing upon education mig^t be 
gleaned. In ' II Convito * he expresses himself fully on 
the different ages of human growth and development ; 
speaks of obedience as an essential requisite for the 
child ; after his father he should obey his master and 
his elders. He should also be gentle and modest, rever- 
ent and eager to acquire knowledge ; reserved, never 
forward ; repentant of his faults to the extent of over- 
coming them. As our soul in all its operations makes 
use of a bodily organ, it behooves us to exercise the 
body, that it grow in grace and aptness, and be well 
ordained and disposed in order that the soul may control 
it to the best advantage. Thus it is that a noble nature 
seeks to have a sound mind in a sound body." 


It is especially with regard to the attitude of the 
churchmen, the people, and even the physicians of the 
Middle Ages toward insanity, that moijt opprobrium has 
been heaped upon the Church and her teachings in the 
so-called histories of the relations of science to theol- 
ogy or faith. Much of what has been said that has been 
supposed to tell worst against the Church, however, 
should not rest upon the shoulders of ecclesiastics, and 
should not be set down to the evil effect of theology. 
It is easy now to look back and blame men for the ac- 
ceptance of supernatural agencies as causes in nearly all 
cases of mental and nervous diseases, but the reason for 
this is rather to be looked for in the nature of man than 
in his beUef in religion. Ethnology shows us traces of it 
everywhere. Our American Indians, long before any 
tincture of Christianity, and before any hint of theol- 
ogy of any kind reached them, beyond that which de- 
velops spontaneously from the depths of their natural 
faculties, believed in the effect of the evil spirits in 
producing disease, and, of course, particularly the 
mental diseases which made men do things so contrary to 
their own interests, and often so harmful to the beings 
they loved best in the world. 

In the Middle Ages they had not yet outgrown this 
primitive way of looking at mental diseases. For that 
matter, we have not even as yet. The intelligent 
classes in the community are, as a rule, convinced of 
the physical basis of mental diseases, but there are a 



great many people who still are inclined to think that 
some of them, at least, are manifestations of some 
punitive force outside of the patients themselves, or 
even some manifestation of ill-understood forces quite 
apart from matter. Not all the thinking people of the 
Middle Ages accepted all the absurd notions sometimes 
rehearsed in this matter, but as in our own time, foolish 
traditions and superstitions dominated the unthinking 
classes, which form still, imf ortunately, the great mass 
of mankind We have had just the opposite delusions 
forced upon our attention in our own day. Large num- 
bers, supposedly of intelligent people, have pretended 
to believe or have definitely accepted the teaching that 
disease is nothing. This is quite as foolish as attribut- 
ing to spiritual agencies what has come to be recognized 
as due to physical factors. It is to be hoped that our 
generation and its thinking shall not be judged by ftiture 
generations to have been utterly foolish, just because a 
few millions of us accepted Eddyism, —and it must be re- 
membered that these are not, as a rule, the uneducated. 
Another side of this question is even more interesting, 
or at least has become so during the last twenty years. 
A generation ago it was the custom to scoff not a little 
scornfully in scientific circles, at the idea of admitting 
even the possibility of the interference of immaterial or 
spiritual agencies, or of any other intelligences or wills 
at work in the ordinary affairs of this life, than those of 
men. This scornful attitude still continues to be the 
pose of many students and teachers of science. It is 
by no means so universal as it was, however. Strik- 
ingly enough, the converts from this attitude of mind 
have come, not from the lower ranks of teachers of 
science, but from among the very leaders in origmal 


research and scientific investigation. We may still con- 
tinue to laugh at and ridicule the medieval people for 
their admission of the activity of spirits in ordinary 
mundane affairs, but if we do so, we must also laugh at 
and ridicule just as much, such prominent leaders of 
scientific thought and progress as Sir William Crookes, 
Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace, Sir Oliver Lodge, Professor 
Charles Richet, the distinguished French physiologist, 
Flammarion the astronomer, and even of late years 
Professor Lombroso, the well-known Italian criminolo- 
gist, whose special doctrines as to crime and criminals 
would apparently insure him against such theories as 
those of the spiritualists. All of these men have con- 
fessed their belief not only in the possibility of spiritual 
interference in this world of ours, but insist that they 
have seen such interference, and are absolutely con- 
vinced of its frequent occurrence. 

This is a decided reaction from previous states of the 
scientific mind on this subject, and represents a retro- 
version to medieval modes of thought that may be 
deprecated by scientific investigators of materialistic 
tendencies, but that cannot be neglected, and must not 
be despised. When the results of these recent investi- 
gations are taken into account, the opprobrium which 
has been heaped upon medieval scholars and churchmen 
for the facility with which they accepted the doctrine 
of the interference of spirits in human life, must be 
minimized to such a degree, or indeed eradicated so 
entirely, that a saner view of the whole situation as 
regards the relationship of the spiritual and material 
world seems likely to prevail. It is easy and cheap to 
reject without more ado and without serious considera- 
tion, such evidence of spiritual manifestations as has 


convinced these leaders of scientific thoufirht Bat this 
rejection is not scientific, nor does it show an open mind 
What is needed is a cabn review of the situation, m 
order to see just where truth lies. It is not at either 
extreme. It is not in too great credulity with regard 
to spiritual interference, but certainly not at the oppo- 
site pole of the negation of all spiritual influence in 
human life, that genuine progress in knowledge is to 
come. This premised, we may take up the considera- 
tion of the actual accomplishment of the Middle Ages 
with regard to the insane, better prepared to appreciate 
their point of view and to get at the significance of their 
attitude toward the mentally diseased. 

There are two phases of this question of the attitude 
of even intelligent men of the Middle Ages toward 
nervous and mental diseases, that deserve to be studied, 
not superficially, but in their actual relationships to the 
men of that time, and to our opinions at the present 
day. These are: first, the question of the treatment of 
the mentally afflicted, and second, the mystery of de- 
moniacal possession and its related phenomenon— medi- 
umship, as we call it 

Personally, I was very much siirprised some years 
ago, while collecting material for a paper to be read 
before the International Guild for the Care of the 
Insane, to find how many things that are most modem 
in our methods of treating the insane, and that are 
among the desiderata which are universally conceded to 
be most necessary for the improvement of present con- 
ditions in our management of mental diseases, were 
anticipated by the generations of the thirteenth to the 
fifteenth centuries. It is not hard, for instance, to 
show that such eminently desirable conditions as the 


opgn door for mild cases, the combination of the ordi- 
nary hospital with a ward for psychic cases, the colony 
system for the treatment of those of lower mentality, 
were all in existence in the Middle Ages and did good 
work. The colony system particularly, as it comes to us 
from the Middle Ages, has recently been studied very 
carefully, and this has given us many valuable hints as 
to the methods that will have to be adopted in other 
countries in modem times. 

The conditions which developed at Gheel in Belgium 
have deservedly attracted much attention in recent 
times, and have been the subject of articles in the medical 
journals of nearly every country in the world, because 
of the poignant realization by our generation that large 
institutions, meaning by this large single buildings or 
closely associated groups of buildings, are very unfa- 
vorable for the care of the insane. In America, one of 
these articles was published in the Journal of Nervous 
and Mental Diseases, and a second, written by my 
friend, Dr. Jelliffe, who is the Professor of Mental 
Diseases in Fordham University School of Medicine, 
was written after a special visit paid to Gheel by him, 
in order to investigate conditions there. Though the 
situation at Gheel now is practically identical with that 
which originated there at least five centuries ago, there 
are many who consider that similar conditions would be 
ideal for the treatment of certain classes of the insane 
even in our own day. It is this sort of interpretation 
of the work of these old-time philanthropists and physi- 
cians that we need, and not the cheap condemnation 
which makes it necessary for us to begin all over again 
in each generation. 

In the light of this unexpected revelation and the 


consequent revolution of thoufirht it suggests, a short 
review of the treatment of the insane will not be out^of 
place. It is usual for our self-complacent generation 
to consider that it was not until our own tone that 
rational measures for the care of the insane were 
taken. Most of the text-books on mental diseases that 
touch at all on the historical aspects of the treatment 
question, are apt to say that the evolution of methods for 
the treatment and cure of the insane might be divided 
into four historical periods: First, the era of exorcism, 
on the theory that insane patients were possessed of 
devils. Second, the chain and dungeon era, during which 
persons exhibiting signs of insanity were imprisoned 
and shackled in such a manner as to prevent the inflic- 
tion of injury upon others. Third, the era of asylums. 
Fourth, the present era of psychopathic wards in gen- 
eral hospitals for the acutely insane in cities, and col- 
onies for the chronic insane in the country, which is 
only just beginning to develop. 

From this classification, the ordinary reader would 
suppose that nothing at all was done for the insane 
during the first two periods, except exorcism in one and 
confinement in the other. As a matter of fact, the 
number of the harmlessly insane has always been much 
larger than the violent, and the latter, indeed, consti- 
tute only a very small portion of the mentally ailing at 
any period. Exorcism, as a rule, was applied only to 
the violent and to the hysterical. In the asylimis at all 
times there were a number of patients who were not 
chained or confined to any great degree, and unless one 
had shown some special violent manifestation, severe 
measures were not taken. It is the treatment of the 
great mass of the insane rather than of the few excep- 


tional cases, that must be considered as representing 
the attitude of mind of the generations of the Middle 
Age toward the mentally afflicted, and not what they 
found themselves compelled to do because of their fear 
and dread of violence. 

For those who were mentally afflicted in a mild 
degree, abundant suitable provision was made by the 
generations of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
When historical writers suggest the contrary, they are 
only making one of the usual assumptions from igno- 
rance of the details. Because in some cases insanity 
was supposed to be due to possession by the devil, to 
say that, therefore, in all cases no provision was made 
for the insane is nonsense. It is comparatively easy to 
find, from records of the hospitals of the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, that there were what we now 
call psychopathic wards for the acutely insane in the 
cities, and some colonies for the chronic insane in 
country places. 

Knowing nothing of this, Prof. White, for instance, 
says : *'The stream of Christian endeavor, so far as the 
insane were concerned, was almost entirely cut off. 
In all the beautiful provision during the Middle Ages 
for the alleviation of human suffering, there was for 
the insane almost no care. Some monasteries indeed 
gave them refuge. We hear of a charitable work done 
for them at the London Bethlehem Hospital in the thir- 
teenth century, at Geneva in the fifteenth, at Marseilles 
in the sixteenth, by the Black Penitents in the South of 
France, by certain Franciscans in Northern France, by 
the Alexian Brothers on the Rhine, and by various 
agencies in other parts of Europe; but, curiously enough, 
the only really important effort in the Christian Church 


was stimulated by the Mohammedans. ' ' This last clause 
is a slur on Christianity absolutely without justificatiiJa 
As is true for all broad generalizations, to ignore thus the 
work of caring for the insane and the methods employed 
in earlier times, amounts to deplorable injustice to gen- 
erations whose provision for the sick of every class was 
not only much more abundant, but more rational and 
complete, than it has been our custom to recognize and 
acknowledge- The earliest city hospitals that we know 
of were due to the fatherly care and providence of that 
great Pope, Innocent HL, whose pontificate (1198-1213) 
has been more misunderstood than perhaps any corre- 
sponding period of time in history. It was Virchow, the 
great German pathologist, whose sympathies with the 
Papacy were very slight, and whose attitude in the 
Kulturkampf in Germany showed him to be a strenuous 
opponent of the Papal policy, who paid the high tribute 
to Pope Innocent IIL which we quote in the chapter on 
the Foundation of City Hospitals. It was in connection 
with these hospitals founded by Pope Innocent III., or 
the result of the movement initiated by him, that the 
insane were cared for at first This may seem to have 
been an undesirable method, but at the present time 
there is an almost universal demand on the part of ex- 
perts ip mental diseases for wards for the mentally dis- 
eased in connection with city hospitals, because admis- 
sion is thus facilitated, treatment is begun earlier, the 
patient is not left in unsuitable t^onditions so long, 
friends are readier to take measures to bring the patient 
under proper treatment and surveillance, and, as a con- 
sequence, more of the acutely insane have the course of 
their disease modified at once, and more cures take place 
than would otherwise be possible. Of course, this was 


not the idea of the original founder of the medieval hos- 
pitals, or even the conscious plan of those who were in 
charge. They had to take the mentally infirm because 
there was nowhere else for them to go at that time. As 
a matter of fact, however, their simple method of 
procedure was better in the end for the patient than is 
our more complex method of admission to insane asylums, 
with its disturbing necessity for formal examination of 
the patient under circumstances that are likely to in- 
crease any excitement that he may be laboring under. 
And the transfer to an institution bearing the dreaded 
name of asylum, or even sanitarium (for that term has 
taken quite as ominous a meaning in recent years) is 
sui*e to aggravate the patient's irritated state, and to 
exaggerate sjonptoms which might otherwise be relieved 
by prompt, soothing care, and by the consciousness that 
his ailment is being treated rather than that he himself 
is being placed in durance. 

An examination of the methods for the care of 
the insane in the Middle Ages brings out clearly 
the fact, that the modem generation may learn from 
those old Catholic humanitarians, whose hearts and 
whose charity served^ so well to make up for any defi- 
ciencies of intellect or of science the modems would pre- 
sume them to have labored under. There are said to be 
three great desiderata for the intelligent care for the 
insane : 

First : The open door system, permitting patients who 
are not violent, and who can be trusted even though 
they have many queer notions, to come and go at will. 

Second : The after care treatment of those who have 
been insane, to the end that they may not be compelled to 
go back to strenuous lives of toil ; and above all, that they 


may not be forced into the too harrassing conditions of 
which their mental breakdown originally was bom. 

Third : A colony system by which patients of lowered 
intelligence may be cared for in the country, far away 
from the stress of city life, and where, without the cares 
of existence pressing upon them, they may be surrounded 
by gentle, patient, kindly friends who will make every 
allowance for their peculiarities and strive to help th^n 
in their up-hill struggles. 

These desiderata are so absolutely modem that they 
have only been formulated definitely with the beginning 
of the twentieth century. Notwithstanding this apparent 
newness, I think that it will not be difficult to show that 
the old-time methods of caring for the insane partook, 
to a greater degree than would be suspected at the 
present time, of these desirable qualities that modem 
science has come to recognize as so indispensable for the 
rational care of the mentally imbalanced. In saying this 
I do not wish to claim for the Middle Ages accomplish- 
ments beyond their deserts. My idea is rather to write 
an interpretation ; to make clear from what we know of 
the details of the care of the insane in the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, that unconsciously those genera- 
tions, in their large-hearted charity, anticipated what is 
best in our present system. 

The first record in English medical literature of a 
home for the insane is that of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, 
London, which has become famous under the familiar 
shortened name of Bedlam, meaning a house or place of 
confusion. Bethlehem was a general hospital into which 
during the fourteenth century insane patients were ad- 
mitted. There is a historical record to the effect that at 
the beginning of the fifteenth century a royal commission 


investigated the methods of treating the insane in vogue 
there, because there had been complaint of abuses in the 
institution. Practically every century since there have 
been written corresponding records of similar investiga- 
tions. The trouble seems always to have been that there 
were too few attendants properly to take care of insane 
patients, and thus they had to be placed in confinement 
in various ways, which inevitably led to abuses. 

For a generation or longer after each exposure by a 
committee of inspection, the evils of this system would 
be more or less tolerable ; then they would become un- 
bearable once more and another investigation would be 
demanded. I would like to feel that we have progressed 
in all respects beyond these hit and miss methods, but 
any one familiar with the present situation in the matter 
is quite well aware that there are still many abuses that 
need correction, and inspection committees find many 
suggestions to make and sometimes gross evils to stig- 

Bedlam seems, however, to have always been as well 
and as humanely conducted as the spirit of the times 
demanded. It must not be forgotten that according to 
well authenticated tradition, a very large part of the 
hospital's income was obtained by the collection of fees 
for the admittance of visitors who came to be amused 
by the vagaries of the insane. The number visiting the 
asylum for this purpose must have been enormous, for, 
though only a penny was charged for admission, the re- 
sulting revenue is said to have amounted to four hundred 
pounds sterling a year, showing that nearly one hundred 
thousand persons had visited the institution. 

Prom generations that were pleased to derive morbid 
amusement out of the misfortunes of others, human- 


itarian care of the insane could not be reasonably ex* 
pected; but in view of this custom it is difficult to under- 
stand how there could have been at this period any great 
abuse of patients, in the matter of severe punishments 
or inhuman restraint 

• Some of the customs of the old-time hospitals were 
interesting. It was believed that the one chance for an 
insane patient to recover lay in trusting him smnewhat, 
allowing him even to go unattended outside the walls at 
times. Patients in Bedlam were permitted to go out 
alone after they improved in health, and if th^ were 
poor they were allowed to obtain their living by means 
of begging. In order that they might more easily work 
upon public sympathy, they were permitted to wear tin 
plates fastened to their arms. The wearers of these 
were called "Bedlams," or *' Bedlamites" or ''Bedlam 
beggars," and tradition says that they received much 
more consideration than ordinary beggars. 

It may appear that this was dangerous liberty, but the 
ordinary person is apt to consider as dangerous the open 
door treatment of the insane which most alienists now 
hold to be the most commendable feature of present day 
treatment. It seems reasonable that to permit patients 
to go into the open air and sunshine was better than 
confining them in the hospital, and doubtless the insignia 
which they wore especially commended them to the care 
and alms and sympathy of the people. 

Much has been said with regard to the alleged neglect 
and abuse of the insane during the period of exorcism, 
because of the misunderstanding of the cause of the 
disease. There are persons who consider neurasthenia 
and major-hysteria as more or less modem forms of 
nervous diseases, but it is more than probable that they 


existed with considerable frequency in the olden time. 
Many of these cases would be cured by strong sugges- 
tions, that is, by the treatment usually given to supposed 
possessed persons, and as we know that the best possible 
treatment for certain forms of major-hysteria is to 
frighten the patient (the earthquake at San Francisco 
cured a dozen persons who had not been regarded as 
able to walk, some of them for years) , it is probable that a 
goodly number of the patients of the past were cured 
by the rather heroic measures sometimes devised. Sir 
Thomas More mentions such cases, and though himself 
eminently humane, commends this method of treatment 
"in which such patients were severely scourged and 
thoroughly aroused from their willfulness." 

When psychiatrists talk slightingly of the old-time 
methods of caring for the insane, it is well to recall that, 
considering tiie conditions and limitations of scientific 
knowledge, they seem to have done very well in those 
times. It has been the custom of critics to hold up to 
ridicule that insane patients were sometimes taken to 
special shrines in order that their- ills might be cured by 
the direct interposition of Heaven ; or that the devil 
supposed to possess them, might be driven out. It must 
not be forgotten, however, that such procedures were of 
supreme utility in mild cases viewed merely from the 
human standpoint, and without any appeal to the super- 
natural. The journey to a favorite shrine, undertaken 
under conditions that gave variety to life and new inter- 
ests, together with the hope aroused while there, were 
sufficient to help the patient physically and, not infre- 
quently, mentally. 

Some of the most distinguished specialists in mental 
diseases in Germany, France and England are on record 


as believing that one of the most helpful agencies in the 
relief of certain symptoms of mental disturbance, and 
even the cure of milder forms of insanity, is confidence 
in the Almighty as expressed by prayer. At a meeting 
of the British Medical Association two years ago, this 
idea was expressed very forcibly by a distinguished 
specialist, and was concurred in by a number of those 
at the meeting of the Section on Mental Diseases. He 

** As an alienist and one whose life has been concerned 
with the suffering of the mind, I would state that of all 
hygienic measures to counteract disturbed sleep, de^ 
pressed spirits and all of the miserable sequels of a dis- 
tressed mind, I would undoubtedly give the first place to 
the simple habit of prayer. * * * Such a habit does 
more to calm the spirit and strenghten the soul to over- 
come mere incidental emotionalism than any other 
therapeutic agent known to me." 

The medieval peoples realized this, and finding it bene- 
ficial, used it to decided advantage in a large number of 

Occasionally some very striking developments resulted 
from pilgrimages made for the cure of the insane. A 
typical instance is to be found at the shrine of St. 
Dympna in Belgium. Many persons in various stages 
and differing forms of mental derangement were accus- 
tomed to go or be taken to the shrine of this Irish girl 
missionary, whose martyrdom had so elevated her in the 
estimation of the people of the neighborhood that they 
thought her tomb worthy of special reverence. The 
sufferers who journeyed thither frequently lingered for 
some time in order to invoke the aid of the Saint, and, 
if possible, secure her intercession for the relief of their 


ailments. Many of them were found to get along better 
in the quiet of the little village than they had done in 
their homes, and as they were simply quartered among 
the people of the village, their friends were able for a 
trifling pecuniary consideration to secure their main- 
tenance there for an indefinite period, in the hope that 
what the Saint had not granted at the beginning might 
be obtained by more assiduous devotion at her shrine. 
At first the friends probably intended to come back and 
take the patients away, but after a time, finding that 
they got along so well near the shrine, they gradually 
learned to leave them there entirely. Thus originated 
the famous insane colony at Gheel which has in recent 
years been the subject of more attention on the part of 
alienists the world over than almost any other therapeu- 
tic method of our time. This medieval invention of 
caring for the non- violent insane, especially those of low 
grades of intelligence, in the midst of small families, 
where none of the cares of life burden them and where 
they have occupation of mind and body and certain 
human interests, such as might appeal to their weakened 
intelligence, is probably the ideal method of caring for 
such patients. Certain it is that it is much better than 
the large institutional system, the invention of succeed- 
ing centuries, from which we are now trying to get 
away as fast and as far as possible. 

The Gheel mode of caring for the insane is really the 
colony system that is now universally recognized as the 
most favorable mode of treatment for these patients. It 
seems not unlikely that there was much more of this 
practice during the Middle Ages in Europe than we have 
any idea of. 

With regard to the serious accusations so often made 

a^inst the people of the Middle Ages for their cruelty 
to the insane, not much apology will be needed by those 
who know anything about the treatment of the insane^ 
even in quite recent times. Measures of rigid restramt 
were employed for dangerous cases. Patients who had 
shown manifestations of violence were likely to be 
chained. Severe and unusual punishments were some- 
times inflicted. Of all this there is no doubt Abuses 
crept into institutions. The insane were somuetimes 
brutally treated or hideously neglected. These, bow- 
ever, are objections that can be urged against oar 
system of taking care of the insane in many places even 
at the present day. In certain states, in order to lessen 
the expense of caring for the insane, they are kept in 
departments in the Poor Houses, and evi»7 now and 
then a legislative committee of investigation tells the 
story of appalling evils that have been discovered. It 
was not because they thought that possessed people 
deserved punishment, nor because they hoped thus to 
get the devils to go out of them, that the medieval 
generations allowed such things in their asylums, but 
because human nature will neglect its duties toward 
the ailing unless carefully superintended, and because 
regular attendants become hardened in their feelings 
sooner or later, when tlfey serve only for pay, and the 
result always is the abuse of patients. 

In proportion to the number of patients cared for, 
there was much more need for restraint in those old 
days than at present. As a rule, during the Middle 
Ages prisons and asylums were few. Only the violently 
insane, who already had actually committed some 
serious crime or threatened to, were kept in the asy- 
lums. For these restraint is needed even at the present 


time. We have learned to apply milder measures by 
employing many more attendants, but even that has 
come only in the last generation or two. The milder 
cases of insanity were not kept in asylums, but were 
allowed tc wander about the country, or were cared for 
in their families with a devotion of which one finds no 
example at the present time; or if the insane person 
belonged to a noble family, very often the patient was 
kept in the house of a retainer and gently cared for. The 
fact that the milder cases were allowed to wander about 
the country might seem to be dangerous, but is not so 
serious as is ordinarily thought Only a limited number 
of insane patients are likely to be violent, and these, as 
a rule, show manifestations of it early in the history of 
their affection. It was the frequent meeting with these 
harmless insane, as they were to be encountered in the 
many places through which he wandered professionally 
in England, that enabled Shakespeare to make his pic- 
tures of insane characters so true to life, that even at 
the present day we are able to recognize from his mar- 
velous description exactly the form of insanity that was 

In a word, these generations of the Middle Ages 
builded better than they knew in this matter of the 
care of the mentally afflicted, as in everything else 
which they took up for serious consideration. They did 
only the most obvious things, and what they could not 
very well help, under the circumstances, and yet very 
often the solutions of grave problems which they hit 
upon so naturally, proved to be as efficient as, indeed 
sometimes practically identical with, those we have 
reached by much more elaborate methods. This story 
of the treatment of the insane in the Middle Ages 


deserves careful study. I have given only a few sug^ 
gestions for the interpretation of certain metiiods of 
action on their part» apparently very different fimn ov 
ideas, yet in reality anticipating our most ree^it con- 

What many people have not been able to f oifiive tiie 
generations of the Middle Ages, and espedaUy tiie. 
ecclesiastics of the centuries before our own, is tibat as 
educated men and leaders of the people they should 
have accepted the view that mental diseases may, in 
some of their forms at least, be due to possession by 
the devil or some other spiritual interference with the 
working of the human intellect During the latter half 
of the nineteenth century, it became the custom among 
the educated to scoff at any possible manifestation of 
this kind. The interference of the spiritual wmrld with 
any of man's actions came to-be looked upon as absurd, 
except by those who still clung to old-time beliefs and 
thought that new fashions in opinion might very well 
prove almost as variable as do corresponding fads in the 
realm of dress or of interests. The difficulty in the 
matter was that the generations of the latter nine- 
teenth century lost their faith, to a great extent, in the 
existence of a spiritual world, and consequently it was 
easy to laugh at those who had found the interference 
of such a world as not only possible, but actual, in a 
great many affairs in human life. As a matter of fact, 
when we realize how many utterly inexplicable phe- 
nomena the earlier centuries tried to explain this way, 
it is not surprising to find their explanation sometimes 

It is very easy, to my mind, for men of our genera- 
tion to be too hard in their judgments of the m^fi of 


the Middle Ages with regard to the curious phenomena, 
psychic, spiritistic and occult, which, with all our 
advance in science, are still almost as obscure to the 
eye of the intellect as they were seven centuries ago. 
The medieval generations saw a great many things that 
they could not explain happening round them, and 
attributed them to spiritual agencies. We have learned 
since that many of these things are merely natural, and 
must not be considered as due to anything else than the 
ordinary laws of nature. We have not eliminated belief 
in the spiritual world, however, and there is still a large 
proportion of mankind who think that they see, even in 
the matter-of-fact world around them of the present 
day, many signs of interference in human affairs by 
agencies distinct from those of human beings and quite 
independent of matter. It is easy to dismiss this side 
of the question with a shrug of the shoulders and say 
that it need not be taken into account A man who 
does this easily succeeds in convincing himself that 
there are no evidences for spiritual manifestations in 
our life, and that the stories with regard to them are 
all nonsense. 

It is curious, however, that anyone who investigates 
and does not merely dismiss at once, is very prone to 
come to a contrary conclusion, even though all his train- 
ing and the traditions of his education are opposed to 
such an admission. There are many prominent scientists 
who have allowed themselves to be drawn into the 
investigation of spiritualistic manifestations so-called. 
Very few of them have come away from their investi- 
gations entirely convinced that there was nothing in 
tfaem. Frauds they have found ; sleight-of-hand imposi- 
tions they have exposed ; but apart from all these, there 

is a residue of phenomena which they cannot explain 
and which convinces many of them of the existence and 
the mundane action of forces independent of matter. 
The men who come to these conclusions are not only the 
ignorant, nor the over-credulous, but frequency rq>- 
resentative leaders in scientific thought— m^i who are 
known to be thoroughly capable of weighing evidence, 
prominent lawyers and judges, above all, men who are 
accustomed to investigation as most painstaking scien- 
tists and faithful students of nature. 

A few examples will illustrate this. Mr. Alfred 
Russell Wallace, the co-discoverer with Darwin of thev 
theory of natural selection, has a name in Hie scientific 
world that places him among the leaders of scientific 
thought For many years he has been convinced tibat 
spiritualism contains in itself truths that deserve carefid 
investigation, and he for one is persuaded that the 
neglect of investigation of this subject, on the part of 
recent generations, is one of the most serious mistakes^ 
from a purely scientific standpoint, that they have 
made. Sir William Crookes, whose brilliant theories 
with regard to the fourth stage of matter, radiant 
matter, would seem to have quite appropriately prepared 
him for the proper investigation of existences even 
beyond the domain of the attenuated substances with 
which he had been so much concerned, is another of the 
prominent scientists of the day who confesses to a belief 
in the truth of spiritualistic phenomena. He made his 
first, publication on the subject more than a quarter of a 
century ago. When a score of years after this he was 
elected as the President of the British Association for 
the Advancement of Science, the most prominent sci- 
entific body in Great Britain, and, it may be said, in the 


English-speaking world, he recurred in his Presidential 
address to the subject of spiritualism, and said that in 
the meantime he not only had not changed his mind with 
regard to the truth of certain spiritualistic phenomena, 
but had even become more convinced than he was orig- 

These are prominent English scientists, and English- 
men are supposed to be more conservative, less likely to 
be influenced by personal motives, and less prone to be 
led astray by imaginative influences, than their col- 
leagues on the Continent Besides these two whom we 
have mentioned, there is a third one, of quite as great 
prominence. Sir Oliver Lodge, who is also a convert to 
belief in the reality of certain spiritual manifestations, 
and other names might readily be mentioned. Over in 
France, the most prominent of living physiologists. 
Professor Charles Richet, who is well known for inves- 
tigating work of a high order and successful original 
research that has made his name familiar throughout 
the medical world at least, is another modem scientist 
who cannot but think that there is something in spir- 
itualistic manifestations. The latest convert to these 
notions is an even more surprising addition to such a 
group of witnesses to the possibility of the interference 
of spirits with human affairs. This is no less a person 
than Lombroso, the well-known writer on criminology, 
who has recently confessed that certain tests made by 
him showed beyond all doubt that there were influences 
at work quite independent of human powers, and show- 
ing the existence of a world apart from matter. This 
immaterial world evidently interpenetrates, and may 
interfere with things in the material world as we 
know it 


In a word, it may be said that if a man wants to 
keep the spiritual side of things out of his purview of 
life, he may do so by refusing to investigate any evi- 
dence that would demonstrate the existence of spiritual 
forces in the world around him. The hravy price, how- 
ever, that he pays for absolute certainty and peace 
of mind in this matter— is peremptory refusal to inves- 
tigate. If he gives himself up to investigations^ be 
comes inevitably to the conclusion that tbexe is some- 
thing in the belief in the existence of spirits all zoond 
us, and of the possibility of their interference in the 
ordinary affairs of life. It is true that after he has 
come to this conclusion he may not be able to dmnon- 
strate it to others. His conviction of it, however, wiD 
be none the less absolute because of this. EQs adhesicm 
to the new belief may seem to many people absurd. 
He vrill accept this view of his state of mind quite 
calmly, and apparently enjoy the compensation at 
finding the absurdity to be in the other point of view. 
It matters not how distinguished a scientist he may be, 
he comes out of investigation of spiritual phenomena 
persuaded of the existence of a spiritual world. 

This persuasion seems to come by some form of in- 
tuition not quite dependent on the ordinary processes 
of intelligence. It is as if spirit called to spirit across 
the abyss, from the immaterial to the material, as if 
somehow we obtained a conviction of the existence of 
spirits around us by the very sjrmpathy of our natures 
and their relationship to the immaterial world, rather 
than by the ordinary avenues of intelligence. It is, in 
a word, a telepathy, the other agent in which is not 
material, but quite independent of matter, yet somehow 
is able to set up those vibrations in the ether which 


affect brain cells, and thus bring about communications, 
as Sir William Crookes explains the curious phenomena 
in this line that occur between human beings. Such 
an explanation may easily be dismissed as highly imag- 
inative and altogether theoretic. As a student of psy- 
chology now for many years, it has appealed to me, 
however, as the only possible hypothesis that gives any 
plausible explanation of the curious conversions which 
so inevitably result from sympathetic attempts at inves- 
tigation of the possibility of spirit interference in mun- 
dane affairs. 

How far this persuasion of spiritual interference in 
ordinary human affairs has gone, will not be realized 
except by those who are familiar with some of the 
literature which has been made in the last twenty years 
on the subject of psychical research. Not long since, a 
distinguished European professor of physical science 
went so far as to warn people of the dangers there 
might be in dismissing the opinion that other intelli- 
gences than those of men could interfere for the abro- 
gation of certain natural laws. This may be scoffed at 
as the height of credulity, and may be received in 
sceptical mood by those who refuse to look into such 
matters, because they know a priori that they cannot 
be true! It is hard, however, to differentiate the atti- 
tude of mind of such persons from that which Galileo 
deprecated so much, in that letter of complaint to 
Kepler, in which he said so bitterly that they refused 
to look through his telescope and demolished, as they 
thought, his observations by logical conclusions from 
what they knew already. It is to be remarked that it 
was not ecclesiastics of whom he was talking" at this 
time, but professors of science at the University of 


Pisa, who were quite as unsympathetic towards certain 
of his astronomical discoveries as were any of the ec- 
clesiastics of his time. 

Alfred Russell Wallace has summed up this matter in 
a well-known chapter on psychic research, which he 
places among what he calls the failures of A Wonder- 
ful Century— the nineteenth. While personally viewing 
this matter from a very different standpoint to that 
from which it is viewed by Mr. Wallace, I cannot help 
but think that the position he occupies is much nearer 
the truth than tlie absolute refusal to credit stories of 
supra-natural or ultra-natural, if not supernatural inter- 
ferences in human affairs. When Mr. Wallace has an 
opinion he is likely to express it very forcibly, and he 
has done so in this case. He does not hesitate to 
attribute a great many marvelous happenings to practi- 
cally the same forces as the medieval people formulated 
for them, though they would disagree utterly in the 
purposes attributed to these events. Mr. Wallace says : 

**The still more extraordinary phenomena— veridical 
hallucinations, warnings, detailed predictions of future 
events, phantoms, voices or knockings, visible or audi- 
ble to numerous individuals, bell-ringing, the playing 
on musical instruments, stone-throwing and various 
movements of solid bodies, all without human contact 
or any discoverable physical cause, still occur among us 
as they have occurred in all ages. These are now being 
investigated, and slowly but surely are proved to be 
realities, although the majority of scientific men and of 
writers for the press still ignore the cumulative evidence 
and ridicule the inquirers. These phenomena being 
comparatively rare, are as yet known to but a limited 
number of persons ; but the evidence for their reality is 


also very extensive, and it is absolutely certain that 
during the coming century they too will be accepted as 
realities by all impartial students and by the majority 
of educated men and women." 

Mr. Wallace has insisted further on the utterly unsci- 
entific position of many of those who refuse to look into 
the evidence for these phenomena, so plainly beyond 
the power of the ordinary forces of nature as we know 
them, or of the human intelligences in the body, that 
are immediately around us. He deprecates, as does 
Galileo, the method by which this subject has been kept 
from receiving its due meed of attention. He points 
out that it is because of intellectual intolerance that this 
subject has been relegated to the background of scien- 
tific attention. He even contends that a great lesson 
is to be learned from this neglect, and one which will 
help men to free themselves from that burden of over- 
conservatism which, much more than religion or the- 
ology, has impeded the progress of knowledge and the 
advance of science. He says : 

"The great lesson to be learnt from our review of 
this subject is, distrust of all a priori judgments as to 
facts ; for the whole history of the progress of human 
knowledge, and especially of that department of knowl- 
edge now known as psychical research, renders it 
certain that whenever the scientific men or popular 
teachers of any age have denied, on a priori grounds of 
impossibility or opposition to the 'laws of nature, ' the 
facts observed and recorded by numerous investigators 
of average honesty and intelligence, these deniers have 
always been wrong." 

" F\iture ages will, I believe, be astonished at the vast 
amount of energy and ignorance displayed by so many 

8sg 'nas popss and acasNcs 

of the great men ckf this eentary inopposiiig'iiiiiialatable 
truths, and m supposhig that a priori arguments, ae- 
eusations of impoBtare or insanity, or pensonal abine, 
were the proper means of ctetermining matters itf faet 
and of observation in any department of faimian knowl- 
edge. '' 

If these hard-headed sdentists, whose training has 
been obtained in what physical scientists th^nselves, at 
least, are fain to caU the rigid schod of tiie 1<^ of fads, 
and under the severe mental discipline of the inductive 
method, accept <m the evidence afforded them, tiie 
manifestations of the spiritual world and its influenoes 
in this as true, surely we vnll not condemn these mm 
of the Middle Ages, who approached the subject in naxk 
a different temper, if th^ came to tlie same conduskm. 
We recognize that the modem scientist, vnth his trained 
powers of observation and his elaborate facilities for 
eliminating the adventitious in his experiments, is in a 
position to judge impartially with regard to such sub- 
jects. More than this, his life has usually been spent 
in making such syntheses of evidence for and against 
the significance of facts, as should enable him to be a 
proper judge. If, then, whenever he seriously devotes 
himself to such an investigation, he comes almost in- 
evitably to the conclusion that spirits do intervene in 
our affairs, yet we refuse to believe with him, it is hard 
to know on what principle we shall accept his scientific 
conclusions. If we cannot bring ourselves to think his 
conclusions are of equal value in both cases, we place 
ourselves in a strange dilemma. The medieval scholars 
were prone, because of the faith to which they had 
given their whole-hearted adhesion, to see spiritual 
powers at work in many things. In this they were 


sometimes sadly mistaken, but not so much mistaken 
as certain generations of the nineteenth century, who 
absolutely refused to accept any possibility of spiritual 
interference in things mundane. Both the extremes 
are mistakes. It is manifestly more of a mistake, how- 
ever, to deny spiritual influence entirely (I talk now 
from the standpoint of the scientist and not the be- 
liever), than to accept so much of spiritual interference 
as the medieval generations permitted themselves to .be 
convinced of. 

This whole subject is one that cannot be dismissed 
as the conclusion of a bit of vapid superficial argumen- 
tation. It is one of the great mysteries of life and of the 
significance of man in the world. The medieval peoples 
did much harm by accepting the position, that many 
persons suffering from ordinary nervous and mental 
diseases as we now know them were really possessed by 
the devil. The treatment accorded these supposedly 
possessed (for the moment we lay aside the question as 
to the possibility of the reality of diabolic possession) was 
not any worse than has frequently been accorded to 
sufferers from mental and nervous disease in presum- 
ably much more intelligent times, either because of fear 
of them, or neglect on account of the absence of a 
sufficient number of keepers, or because of curious 
theories of medical science. Mankind, it is hoped, is 
progressing, but the amount of progress from genera- 
tion to generation is not enough, that any succeeding 
age should criticise severely the well-intentioned though 
mistaken efforts of their predecessors to meet, accord- 
ing to the best of their ability, problems that are as 
deep as those involved in nervous and mental diseases. 



"The truth seeker has had to struggle for his physi- 
cal life. Each acquisition of truth has been resisted by 
the full force of the inertia of satisfaction with precon- 
ceived ideas. Just as a new thought comes to us with 
a shock which rouses the resistance of our personal con- 
servatism, so a new idea is met and repelled by the 
conservatism of society." {Jordan, The Struggle fcrr 
Realities, in Footsteps of Evolution. ) 


The main purpose of this book has not been accom- 

?lished unless it has been shown that the Church, the 
^opes, and ecclesiastics generally during the Middle 
Ages, and especially during the three centuries before 
the reformation so-called, far from opposing scientific 
advance or investigation, were constantly in the posi- 
tion of encouraging and fostering science, even if the 
meaning of that term be limited, as it has come to be in 
modern times, to the physical or natural sciences. The 
Popes and the great ecclesiastics were patrons of learn- 
ing of every kind, and that they not only encouraged, 
but aided very materially the institutions of learning in 
which the problems of science with which we are now 
engaged, were discussed in very much the same way as 
we discuss them at the present time, is evident from 
the story of the foundation of the universities. It will 
be a source of wonder to many people how, with all this 
as a matter of simple educational history, the traditions 
with regard to the supposed opposition of the Church 
and the Popes to science have grown up. This is not 
so difficult to understand, however, as might be thought, 


and a few words of explanation will serve to show that 
there was opposition to science, but that this was not 
due to religious intolerance in any proper sense of the 

Those who give the religious element a prominent 
place in this, forget how much natural opposition to the 
introduction of new ideas there is in men's minds, 
quite apart from their religious convictions. Nearly two 
centuries ago Dean Swift said, in his own bitter frame 
of mind of course, but still with an approach to truth 
that has made the expression one of the oft-quoted pas- 
sages from his works : ** When a true genius appears in 
the world, you may know him by this sign— that all the 
asses are in confederacy against him." 

I suppose the Dean himself would have been the first to 
insist that some of his colleagues in the ministry emi- 
nently deserved the opprobrious substantive epithet he 
employed. It would be too much to expect that there 
should not be as many foolish ones among the clergy of 
the olden times as in any other of the professions. Oc- 
casionally one of these foolish clergymen rose up in 
opposition to science. Whenever he did, especially if he 
belonged to the class mentioned by Dean Swift, then he 
surely made his religion the principal reason for his op- 
position. That gave an added prestige in his mind and 
m the minds of those who accepted his teachings, to 
whatever he had to say on the subject. This no more 
involved the Church itself, nor ecclesiastics generally, in 
the condemnation of the particular scientific doctrine, 
than does the frequent opposition of peculiar members 
of medical societies to real progress in medicine, involve 
the organization to which they belong in the old-f ogyism 
which would prevent advance. 

It must not be forgotten that small minds are always 
prone to find very respectable reasons for their opposi- 
tion to something that has been hitherto unknown to 
them. While novelty is supposed to attract, and does 
when it comes in a form not too unfamiliar, and when 
men are not asked to give up old convictions for its sake, 
real newness always evokes opposition. Washington 
AUston once said very well with regard to this, that 
"An original mind is rarely understood until it has been 
reflected from some half-dozen congenial with it, so 


averse are men to admitting the true in an unusual 
form ; whilst any novelty, however fantastic, however 
false, is greedily swallowed." This principle will be of 
great service in making clear the real significance of 
many incidents in the history of science, in which not 
only intelligent men without special scientific training 
have been found in opposition to real scientific progress, 
but in which men having had the advantage of long ex- 
perience in scientific investigation, having themselves 
sometimes as younger men done original work of value, 
have yet placed themselves squarely in opposition to sci- 
entific advance that eventually proved of the highest 
possible significance. 

Scientific men have, as a rule, been quite ready at all 
times to argue that an announced new discovery could 
not be true, that indeed it was absurd to think of it 
The word nonsense is perhaps oftener on scientists' 
tongues than on any others'. It is not because he is 
deliberately opposed to scientific progress that this is the 
case with the scientist, but that he is so convinced of 
the ultimate significance of many things that he knows 
already, that he cannot readily bring himself to admit 
the idea of progress along lines with which he is familiar. 
To do so, indeed, supposes that he himself has been 
lacking in perspicacity and in powers of observation. 
The fact that it is usually a young man who makes the 
new observation, not infrequently a young man who 
does not know the great body of science that the older 
acknowledged scientist does, only adds to the readiness 
with which the senior is apt to consider the new proposi- 
tion as absurd. Ecclesiastics have done this same thing, 
but not nearly so frequently as scientists. There was a 
time when the majority of educated men belonged to the 
clerical order, and then it seemed as though it must be 
religion that prompted some of the conservatism which 
led them to oppose what proved eventually to be new 
truths. It was not however, but only human nature 
asserting itself in spite of education. 

Prof. David Starr Jordan in reviewing briefly the his- 
tory of the Struggle for Realities in one of the essays in 
his Foot-notes to Evolution,^ has summed up the genuine 

1 N. Y., Appleton. 1902. 


significance of this supposed opposition of science and 
theology in some striking paragraphs. To my mind, he 
places the whole subject on its proper foundation, and 
properly disposes of the supposed conflict between religion 
or tiieology and science. He says :— 

**But as I have said before, the real essence of con- 
servatism lies not in theology. The whole conflict is a 
struggle in the mind of man. It exists in human psy- 
chology before it is wrought out in human history. It is 
the struggle of realities against tradition and suggestion. 
The progress of civilization would still have been just 
such a struggle had religion or theology or churches or 
worship never existed. But such a conception is im- 
I)ossible, because the need for all these is part of the 
actual development of man. 

Intolerance and prejudice is, moreover, not confined to 
religious organizations. The same spirit that burned 
Michael Servetus and Giordano Bruno for the heresies of 
science, led the atheist ''liberal" mob of Paris to send 
to the scaffold the great chemist Lavoisier, with the 
sneer that ''the republic has no need of savants.'* The 
same spirit that leads the orthodox Gladstone to reject 
natural selection because it "relieves God of the labor 
of creation," causes the heterodox Haeckel to condemn 
Weismann's theories of heredity, not because they are 
at variance with facts, but because such questions are 
settled once for all by the great philosophic dictum (his 
own) "of monism." 

This very natural ultra-conservative mood of scientists 
is well illustrated by a passage from Galileo's hfe, in 
which he himself describes in a letter to Kepler, the 
great mathematician and astronomer of his time, the re- 
ception that his new invention, the telescope, met with 
from distinguished men of science, their colleagues of 
the moment The Italian astronomer encountered the 
well-known tendency of men to reason from what they 
already know, that certain advances in knowledge are 
impossible or absurd. The favorite expression is that 
tiiie thoughts suggested by some new discovery are il- 
logical. Men have always reasoned thus, and apparently 
they always will. Knowledge that they learn before 
they are forty constitutes, consciously or unconsciously, 
for them the possible simi of himian knowledge, and 


they can only think that apparent progress that contra- 
dicts their previous convictions must be founded on false 
premises or faulty observation. We cannot help sym- 
pathizing with Galileo, though it must be a consolation 
for others who are struggling to have ideas of theirs 
adopted, to read the words addressed to his great con- 
temporary and sympathetic fellow worker by the Italian 

*'What wilt thou say," he writes, *'of the first 
teachers at the University at Padua, who when I offered 
to them the opportunity, would look neither at the planets 
nor the moon through the telescope ? This sort of men 
look on philosophy as a book like the -^neid or Odyssey, 
and believe the truth is to be sought not in the world of 
nature, but only in comparison of texts. How wouldst 
thou have laughed, when at Pisa the leading Professor 
of the University there endeavored, in the presence of 
the Grand Duke, to tear away the new planets Jfrom 
Heaven with logical arguments, like magical exor- 

This gives the key to the real explanation of the 
Galileo incident better than would a whole volume 
of explanation of it. It is now realized that very 
few of those who have been most ready to quote 
the example of Galileo's condemnation as an argument 
for Church intolerance in the matter of science, know 
anything at all about the details of his case. The bitter 
intolerance of many men of science of his time, including 
even that supposed apostle of the experimental method 
— Bacon— to the Copernican system, is an important but 
ij[>'nored phase of the case of Galileo, as it came before 
the Roman inquisition. The peculiar position occupied by 
Galileo caused Prof. Huxley, writing to Prof. St. George 
Mivart, November 12th, 1885, to say that, after looking 
into the case of Galileo when he was in Italy, he had 
arrived at the conclusion '*that the Pope and the Col- 
lege of Cardinals had rather the best of if In our 
own time, M. Bertrand, the Perpetual Secretary of the 
French Academy of Sciences, declared that ** the great 
lesson for those who would wish to oppose reason with 
violence was clearly to be read in Galileo's story, and 
the scandal of his condemnation was learned without anv 
profound sorrow to Galileo himself; and his long life, 


considered as a wholes mtist be looked upon as the most 
serene and enviable in the history qf science.*' 

Certain historical incidents in which Church author- 
ities and ecclesiastics assumed an attitude distinctly 
opposed to true scientific advance can be found. They 
are, however, ever so much rarer than is thought. Let 
those who accept unquestioningly the supposed opposi- 
tion of Church to science, count over for themselves the 
definite cases of this in history which they know for 
certain, and they will be surprised, as a rule, on what 
slight grounds their persuasion in this matter is founded. 
We have detailed the policy of the Church with regard 
to education and science. Such incidents of opposition 
as can be gathered were breaks away from that policy. 
They were not due so much to faith or theology, though 
these were often made excuses for them, as to the nat- 
ural opposition to novelty, so common in man. 

With regard to this matter, as with regard to opposi- 
tion in general to science. President Jordan has once 
more set forth the realities of the situation so as to 
make it clear that, even when it was the dogmatic 
spirit that was behind the refusal to accept certain 
scientific truths, not only was there the best of inten- 
tions in this in all cases, but in nearly all, the results 
were such as to benefit mankind, and even to help 
rather than hinder science. He says : 

"The desire of dogmatism to control action is in its 
essence the desire to save men from their own folly. 
The great historic churches have existed ' for the benefit 
of the weak and the poor. ' By their observances they 
have stimulated the spirit of devotion. By their com- 
mands they have protected men from unwise action. 
By tiieir condemnations they have saved men from the 
grasp of vice and crime." 

The ultra-conservatism which is the real factor at 
fault in these cases exists in all men beyond middle life. 
It is a wise provision of nature very probably to prevent 
the young and headstrong from running away with the 
race. We would be plunged into all sorts of curious 
experimental conditions only for the fact that those 
beyond middle life act as a brake on the initiative of 
their juniors. While it does some harm, there is no 
doubt of its supremely beneficial effects in the long run. 


For one announced great discovery that proves its actual 
right to tiie title, there are at least a hundred that are 
proclaimed with loud blare of trumpet, yet prove 
nonentities. This sometimes becomes a very troid)le- 
some brake on progress, however. Some three hundred 
years ago, Harvey said with regard to his epoch-making 
discovery of the circulation of the blood, that he did not 
expect any of his contemporaries who was over for^jr 
years of age to accept it His premonition in tlus 
matter was fully confirmed by the event Darwin, I 
believe, once remarked that he did not think that m&i 
of his own age in his own generation would accept his 
theory, and most of them did not 

The opposition which, as a conseauence of this natural 
conservatism, is so constantly ready to manifest itself 
is as human as the envy which, much as we may bewail 
the fact, accompanies all individual success. A history 
of this phase of scientific progress is of itself very 
interesting and of great psychological importance. A 
short sketch of it will serve the purpose of placing 
the opposition of churchmen to science in the category 
where it belongs, and will make this subject appear in 
its true light of a very natural and universal psychic 
manifestation, not a religious or supposed theological 

As a matter of fact, it is comparatively easy to show 
that there are many more incidents of opposition to the 
progress of science on the part of scientists because of 
their conservatism, than on the part of ecclesiastics 
because of reli^on or theology. There has scarcely 
ever been a really important advance made in science, 
a really new discovery announced, which has not met 
with such bitter opposition on the part of the men who 
were most prominent in the science concerned at the 
time, as to make things very uncomfortable for the 
discoverer, and on many occasions this opposition has 
taken on the character of real persecution. It will be 
at once said that this is very different from the formal 
condemnation by organized bodies of truths in science, 
with all that this implies of ostracization and of dis- 
couragement on the part of scientific workers. The 
history of science is full of stories showing that formal 
scientific bodies refused to consider seriously what were 


illy great discoveries, or that scientific editors not 
y rejected papers representing valuable original 
learch, but even did not hesitate to discredit their 
diors in such a way as to make it extremely difficult 
• them to pursue their studies in science successfully, 
i still more to prevent them from securing such 
ntions as would enable them to carry on their scien- 
c investigations under favorable circumstances. In 
«rord, persecution was carried out just as far as pos- 
le, and the result was quite as much discouragement 
if the opposition were more formal. It is not hard 
show, on the other hand, that while formal opposi- 
n by Church authorities was very rare, rejection 
medical and scientific societies and by the scientific 
!iiorities for the moment of new discoveries was so 
mnon, as to be almost the rule in the history of 
)gress in science. 

Phis is so different from what is ordinarily supposed 
be the calm course of scientific evolution, that it will 
3d a series of illustrative cases to support it. In 
jent years, however, the cultivation of the history of 
ence has been more ardent than in the past, and the 
;ult has been that many more know of this curious 
>maly and paradox in scientific history than was the 
56 a few years ago, and it is comparatively easy to 
ain the material to demonstrate it One of the most 
iking instances is that of Harvey, 
larvey discovered the circulation of the blood, at a 
le and under circumstances that would surely lead us 
expect its immediate acceptance and the hailing of 
ri as a great original thinker in science. He first ex- 
mded it to his class, very probably in 1616, which 
1 be remembered as the year of Shakespeare's death, 
e glory of the great Elizabethan era in England was 
; yet passed. Men's minds had been opened to great 
/ances in every department of thought during the 
needing century, by the Renaissance movement and 
\ New Learning in England. Probably no greater 
nip of original thinkers has ever existed than were 
/e in England during the preceding twenty-five years, 
ar years after Harvey had sufficiently elaborated his 
as on the circulation to present them to his class, 
1 the very year after he wrote his treatise on the 


subject, though he dared not publish it as yet. Lord 
Bacon published his Novum Organum, in which he ad- 
vocated the use in science of the very principles of 
induction on which Harvey's great discovery was 

What happened is interesting for our purpose. Har- 
vey was so well acquainted with the intolerant temper 
of men as regards new discoveries, that he hesitated to 
publish his book on the subject until men had been 
prepared for it, by his ideas gradually filtering out 
among the medical profession thix)ugh the members of 
his class. He waited nearly fifteen years after his first 
formal lesson on the subject, before he dared to commit 
it to print. Shakespeare had made Brutus say to Portia: 

" You are my true and honorable wife, 
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops 
That visit my sad heart ;'' 

but men were not yet ready to accept the great princi- 
ple of the blood movement. There seems to be good 
authority for saying that Harvey had more than suspected 
his great truth for twenty-five years before he dared 
print it. He realized that it would surely meet with 
opposition and would make serious unpleasantness be- 
tween him and his friends. He was not deceived in 
anticipation. Many of his friends fell away from him, 
and according to tradition, he lost more than half of his 
consulting practice, because physicians could not and 
would not believe that a man who evolved such a 
strange idea as the constant movement of the blood all 
over the body, from heart to surface and back, could 
possibly be in his right mind, and, above all, be a suit- 
able person to consult with in difficult cases. 

Harvey's case is a lively picture of what happened to 
Vesalius the century before in Italy, which we have 
already discussed at length in the chapter on the Golden 
Age of Anatomy. President White insists that this 
persecution was due to ecclesiastical opposition to dis- 
section, but of this there is not a trace to be found. 
Dissection was carried on with perfect freedom at all 
of the Italian universities, though they were all under 
ecclesiastical influence, and in none was there more 
freedom than in the Papal University of Rome, at the 


very time when Vesalius was doing his work in Northern 
Italy. At this time, too, Bologna was famous for its 
work in anatomy. Berengar of Carpi did a very large 
number of dissections, though Bologna was at the mo- 
ment a Papal city and the University was directly under 
the Popes. 

It is clear, then, that the opposition to Vesalius arose 
entirely from the conservatism of fellow scientists in 
medicine, who thought that what had been taught for 
many hundreds of years in the universities, and had 
been accepted by men quite as good as Vesalius or any 
of their generation for over a thousand years, must 
surely be nearer absolute truth than what this young in- 
vestigator wished them to accept. It is scarcely to be 
wondered that they resented, as men always do, what 
must have seemed the intrusive rashness of this young 
medical student, who was not yet thirty when he began 
to claim the right to teach his teachers, and who wanted 
to tell them that the medical world had all been wrong 
not only for many years, but for many centuries, and 
liiat he had been bom to set them right This is, after 
all, the attitude of mind which naturally develops in 
these cases, and it is no wonder that the old men use 
whatever means they have in their power to prevent 
rash young men from leading, as they think, the world 

The cases of Harvey and Vesalius are by no means ex- 
ceptional, nor was the opposition limited to England and 
Italy, but examples of it may be found in every country 
in Europe. Nor was it only with regard to anatomy and 
anatomical discoveries and problems that such opposition 
manifested itself. In this matter the story of Servetus 
is very interesting. He made some new discoveries in 
anatomy, but these had nothing to do with the bitter op- 
position which some of his ideas encountered in Paris, 
quite apart from any question of theology or religion. 
We do not know just when he discovered the circulation 
in the lungs, which he described so clearly in the volume 
on the renewal of Christianity, for which he was burned 
at Geneva by Calvin. While at the University of Paris, he 
had been mainly occupied with the department of thera- 
peutics rather than of anatomy or physiology. He had 
suggested especially certain changes in the mode of 


giving drugs. He had much to do with the general in- 
troduction of syrups to replace more nauseating prepara- 
tions of medicine. He was probably the first one to 
realize that elegant prescribing, that is, the choice of 
drugs and their combination in such a way as to make 
them less unpleasant to the patient, was a consummation 
eminently to be desired in medical practice. His ideas 
on this subject met, as novelties always do, no matter 
how good in themselves, with the most rancorous opposi- 
tion. Factions were formed in the University. There 
were riots in the streets. Students were wounded in tiie 
fights which took place. Some even were killed ap- 
parently. All this over the question whether medicine 
as given to patients should be pleasant or unpleasant 

As we have had examples from England, France and 
Italy, we may quote one from the Netherlands. We do 
so only to emphasize the fact that everywhere, no matter 
what the character of the people, nor the religion which 
they happened to profess, their conservatism set them in 
opposition at once to novelties in science. England was 
Protestant in Harvey's time, and the Netherlands mainly 
so at the period of which we are about to speak. 

When Stensen, or as he is more familiarly known by 
his Latin name, Steno, discovered and announced the 
fact that the heart is a muscle, he was looked upon witii 
very much the same suspicion as to his sanity as Harvey, 
a half-century before, when the great English physiol- 
ogist proclaimed the circulation of the blood, and such 
suspicions were rather openly expressed by those who 
were too conservative to accept this new teaching. The 
heart had been considered, not figuratively as we now 
speak, but seriously and very literally, as the seat of the 
emotions. Over and over again, all men had had the 
experience that in times of emotional stress the heart 
was disturbed. They could feel their emotions welling 
up from their hearts, therefore there was no doubt in 
their minds of the truth of the old teaching. Into the 
midst of this perfectly harmonious concord of scientific 
opinion, without a dissenting voice anywhere in the 
world, comes a young man not yet twenty-five, who al- 
most sacrilegiously declares that the heart is merely a 
muscle and not a secreter of emotions. Fortunately for 
him, he was of gentler disposition than most of the other 


men who have had the independence of mind to make 
discoveries, and so no very bitter opposition was aroused 
against him. He was considered too harmless to be 
taken very seriously, but at least when the announce- 
ment first came, most of those who knew anything 
about medicine, or thought they did, and this is much 
more serious in these cases, recognized that young Sten- 
sen had somehow allowed himself to be led astray into a 
very foolish notion, and one that could only emanate 
from a mind not quite capable of realizing truth as it was ; 
and they did not hesitate to say sa 

After this Stensen found the Netherlands quite an un- 
sympathetic place for his studies, and so moved down into 
Italy, where he could find more freedom of thought for 
research and more appreciation, and continue his original 
investigations with less scorn for his new discoveries. 
Here he continued to hit upon original ideas that were 
likely to make things quite uncomfortable for him, not 
because of religious intolerance, but because of the more 
or less hide-bound conservatism that always character- 
izes mediocre minds. Far from coming into disrespect 
here, however, he acquired many and very close friends. 
He laid the foundation of modem geology and wrote a 
little book that is a very wonderful anticipation of sup- 
posedly nineteenth century ideas in that science. He 
had come down into Italy a Protestant, having been 
raised in that religion in his native Denmark. He found 
so much of sympathy with every phase of intellectual 
activity among the ecclesiastics in Italy, that he not 
only became a convert to Catholicity, but after a time a 
Catholic priest His reputation spread to Rome, and the 
Pope not only sent for and received this innovator in 
anatomy and the founder of geology very courteously, 
but treated him with every mark of appreciation, and 
this within a half a century after Galileo's condemnation. 
Stensen eventually went back to Northern Europe as a 
bishop, in the hope of being able to convert to Catholic- 
ity those among the Teutonic nations who had been led 
away during the religious revolt. 

It might be thought that such examples of persecution 
were of course rather frequent in the distant centuries, 
and must not be taken too seriously, since they come in 
times before men had learned to respect one another's 


opinions and to realize that the assertions of an authority 
in science are only to be considered as worth the reasons 
he advances for them. Most people will be quite ready 
to congratulate themselves on the fact that our modem 
time has outlived this unfortunate state of mind, which 
served to hamper scientific investigation. They wiD 
probably even be quite self-complacent over the sup- 
posed fact that, ever since the study of natural science 
was taken up seriously at the end of the eighteenth and 
the beginning of the nineteenth century, tiiis unfortun- 
ate temper has disappeared. Those who think so, how- 
ever, know nothing of the history of nineteenth centuiy 
science, and especially not of nineteenth century medi- 
cine. Jenner's great discovery of the value of vaccina- 
tion against small-pox came just before the nineteenth 
century opened. It met with the bitterest kind of 
opposition. This was especially the case in England. 
There is a doubt whether Germany did not eventually do 
more to bring about the recognition of the immense 
value of Jenner's discovery than his native England. 
Anyone who has read Jenner's life knows how much he 
was made to suffer from the bitterness of opponents' 
expressions with regard to him.^ It is true that he was 
eventually rewarded quite liberally, and that honors were 
showered upon him, but only after a preliminary series 
of trials that must have made him regret, if possible, 
that he had ever devoted himself to the propaganda of a 
great truth. Nor did the dawn of the vaunted nine- 
teenth century bring in a better state of affairs in this 

It might perhaps be thought that this almost constant 
tendency to oppose new developments in science 
was not recognized for what it really is, the ultra- 
conservatism of human nature as men grow older, until 
comparatively modern times. Anyone who knows some 
of the intimate details of the history of medicine is sure to 
be better informed in this matter, and to be well aware 
that, like Harvey, most discoverers in medicine antici- 
pated this opposition. Usually they have had no exper- 
ience of it before, but they realize from the way men 

^ See my sketch of his life in Bilakers of Modem Medicine. Fordham Univenity 
Press, N. Y., 1907. 


think around them, and very probably also from their 
own prompt reaction of opposition to whatever is novel, 
that men are sure to be ready to oppose the introduction 
of whatever is new. One of the quietest, gentlest and 
most lovable characters among the geniuses in medicine 
was Auenbrugger, who, in Vienna, about 150 years ago, 
discovered the method of percussion of the chest, which 
is so helpful in the diagnosis of chest diseases. He 
I)erfected his discovery when he was a young man of 
about 25. He did not publish it until he was nearly 40 
years of age. Like Harvey, he waited nearly a score of 
years before giving it to the world. The reason for the 
delay is given in the preface in the following words : 

''I foresee very well that I shall encounter no little 
opposition to my views, and I put my invention before 
the public with that anticipation. / realize, however^ 
that envy and blame and even hatred and calumny have 
never failed to come to men who have illummated art or 
science by their discoveries or have added to their perfec- 
tion. I expect to have to submit to this danger myself, 
but I think that no one will be able to call any of my 
observations to account I have written only what I 
have myself learned by personal observation over and 
over again, and what my senses have taught me during 
long hours of work and toil. I have never permitted 
myself to add or subtract anything from my observa- 
tions because of the seductions of preconceived theory." 

Nearly fifty years after the publication of Auen- 
brugger's book, Laennec completed the development of 
the diagnostic methods necessary for the differentiation 
of chest diseases by the discovery of auscultation. 
His was the greatest work ever done in clinical medi- 
cine. The solution of the meaning of the multitude of 
soimds that can be heard in the human chest required 
a genius for observation, and almost infinite patience. 
Laennec spent twelve years at the task, and then pub- 
lished his books on the subject Practically nothing of 
importance has been added to his methods and results 
in the more than three-quarters of a century of active 
attention that has been given to medicine since that 
time. Laennec did not expect that his discovery would 
be taken up by his contemporaries. He even refers to 
the cool reception which had been given to Auenbrug- 


ger's work, and deprecates the fact that a man who had 
done so much for mankind should have met with such 
neglect and lack of appreciation, and even the contempt 
of his colleagues in medicine, who could not bring them- 
selves to think that his method of ** drumming on lie 
chest," as they called it, could ever mean much for the 
recognition of disease.^ 

In the preface of his book Laennec, like Auenbrugger, 
prophesies that his work will not receive the attention 
that it deserves, and attempts to lessen the effect of the 
derision that will be meted out to it by calmly stating 
his expectation of it. It is curious that botiii of these 
men, one of them a German and the other a Frenchman, 
one of them a rather stolid Styrian, the other of the 
lively Celtic nature of the Bretons, should in turn have 
realized, at a distance of a thousand miles and more 
than half a century from one another, just what the 
attitude of the men of science was to be toward their 
discoveries, even though those are of a kind that were 
eventually to be hailed as among the most important 
steps in medical progress ever made. Certain words of 
Laennec's preface are an echo of Auenbrugger's ex- 
pressions. He said : 

"For our generation is not inquisitive as to what is 
being accomplished by its sons. Claims of new discov- 
eries made by contemporaries are likely, for the most 
part, to be met by smiles and mocking remarks. It is 
always easier to condemn than to test by actual experi- 

Many people are accustomed to think that, after the 
s]3irit that came into the world with the French Revolu- 
tion, men were less prone to listen to authority or cling 
to old-fashioned notions, and that liberalism of mind is 
to be found written large on many pages of nineteenth 
century scientific history. One of the great scientists 
of the first part of the last century was Dr. Thomas 
Young, to whom we owe so much with regard to the 
theory of light waves and the existence of the ether to 
carry them. Men absolutely refused to listen to this 
idea at all at the beginning, though now it is the 

1 Makers of Modem Medicine, by James J. Walsh, M. D.. Ph. D , LL.D. Fordham 
University Press, New York, 1907. 


groundwork of most of our thinking and of nearly all of 
our mathematical demonstrations with regard to the 
movement of light. They not only refused, however, 
but they expressed their scorn of the man who invented- 
such a cumbrous theory. Dr. George M. Gould, in one 
of the volumes of his Biographic Clinics, has told the 
story of Dr. Young's career, and I prefer to present it 
in his words rather than my own. 

**A practicing physician. Young, as early as 1801, 
hit upon the true theory of the luminiferous ether, and 
of light and color, which nearly a century before had 
been discovered by Robert Hooke. But his scientific 
contemporaries would not see it, and to avoid persecu- 
tion and deprivation of practice. Dr. Young was com- 
pelled to publish his grand discoveries and papers 
anonymously. Published finally by the Royal Society 
(one can imagine the editor's smile of superior wisdom 
over such trash) , they were as utterly ignored as were 
those of Mitchell, Thompson and Martin as to eye- 
strain, two or three generations later. Arago finally 
championed Dr. Young's theory in the French Academy, 
but the leaders, LaPlace, Poissin, Biot, etc., denounced 
and conquered, and not until 1823 would the Academy 
allow the publication of Fresnel's papers on the subject ; 
in about twenty-five years the silencers were themselves 
silenced. But Young had been silenced too ; his disgust 
was so great that he resigned from the Royal Society, 
and devoted himself to his poor medical practice and to 
deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics." (In which, by 
the way, as might be expected I suppose, he made a 
distinguished name for himself. ) 

Many another important medical discoverer in the 
nineteenth century found the truth of Auenbrugger's 
and Laennec's expressions, and met the fateof Jenner 
and Young. Next to vaccination for small-pox, proba- 
bly the most important advance in nineteenth century 
medicine was the discovery of the cause of puerperal 
fever, and the consequent diminution of the death-rate 
from that very fatal disease. At one time in the nine- 
teenth century, it was much more dangerous for a 
woman to have a child in a lying-in hospital in Europe 
than to go through an attack of typhoid fever. The 
death-rate was at least 10 per cent. When it was 


teduoed to five per cent the hcmital autlforities Uk 
quite 8df-eomplaioeiit about it Snortly after the be* 
ginninff o£ the aeoond quarts of the ninete^ith eoi- 
tury, mere began to come glimmerings of the real eawe 
of the affection. It was not due to something from witiim 
the patient, but was caused by a nuOeriea moHn intnh 
ducea fran without Usually the physician in attnd* 
ance wbb responsible for tiie introduction of it ]b 
came to these patients after contact with septic cases 
of various kinds impnqperly deansed. The conseqcMiee 
was that he infected them, and puerperal fever was 

It would seem as thoi:^ the medical prof essioii would 
be vei^ ready and willing to test any such simple ex- 
planation of tiie cnrifiin of a serious disease and if 
possible secure its diminution. Ontiieccmtrary. tiheoU 
men ^ved to be so wedded to the notion mat tbe 
phyddan could not possibly be the cause of this seriouB 
condition, that tiiey ware very bitter in thdr denuncia- 
tion of those who tried to introduce the new idea. One 
distinguished old professor of midwifery declared very 
superciliously that, of course, it was a very charming 
thing for a young poet to insist on the notion that tiiese 
serious dis^usies ware not associated necessarily with 
the beautiful function of maternity itself, but were 
extraneous factors quite apart from it; but there was 
no doubt, he declared, that the affection came from 
within, all the same, and that the youthful poet's idea 
was only a pleasant fiction. The poet in the case was 
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and, needless to say now, 
though he was laboring under the heinous crime of 
being a young man, and did indulge in occasional 
poetry, he was entirely in the right, and the distin- 
guished old professor entirely in the wrong. No little 
denunciation was heaped upon the devoted head of 
Holmes, however, for his strenuous humanitarian work 
with regard to this subject It cost Holmes some 
of his medical friends and not a little practice for 
some time. Even in America, then the land of the 
free, there was a strong conservatism that made the 
introduction of new ideas a very difficult and almost a 
dangerous thing. 

The man who worked out the same idea to a practical 


effect in Europe met with even more determined opposi- 
tion than did our own Dr. Hohnes. I refer, of course, 
to Semmelweiss, who, while teaching obstetrics in 
Vienna, realized that it was the students and doctors en- 
gaged in pathological work at the same time that they 
were taking out tneir courses in obstetrics, who caused 
the havoc among the patients in his (obstetrical) depart- 
ment in the hospital. The death-rate in the hands of 
these obstetrical attendants, who came directly to the 
lying-in department from their work in pathology, was 
sometimes as high as one in five. Semmelweiss insisted 
that this state of affairs must cease, and that while the 
students were doing the pathological work they must 
not be allowed to attend obstetrical cases. This at once 
raised a storm of opposition in the university. Poor 
Semmelweiss lost his position as a consequence of it In 
the midst of the rancorous discussion that followed, 
Semmelweiss lost his reason also for a time, and had to 
be cared for in an insane asylum. It is well recognized 
that bis beneficent discovery was for him the cause of 
many years of unhappiness. 

Nor must it be thought that it is only with regard to 
medical discoveries that such opposition— bitter, personal, 
rancorous and persecutory— can be aroused. While it 
might be thought that the great minds in the ordinary 
natural sciences would have no reason for the personal ele- 
ment which more or less necessarily enters mto medical 
discussion because men had been applying for gain the 
notions that now are proved to be incorrect, and their 
reputations have been made on such applications, to think 
that all was placid and quiet in the physical sciences 
would be a serious mistake. Long ago Virgil asked in 
a famous line, "Is it possible that there can be such 
great wrath in divine minds'!'' --''tantcLene anirnxie 
celestHms irae "—sxid we might be tempted to ask, can 
there be such foolish intolerance on the part of scientific 
teachers ? but the answer would be the same in each 
case. Virgil found that the gods were very human in 
this respect, and anyone who knows the history of sci- 
ence knows the scientists are like the pagan dieties, 
when their conservative spirit is aroused, and when they 
are up in arms, as they fondly think, to protect their be- 
loved science from foolish innovators. 


A tsrpieal example of the swt of oppodtion wliidi a 
modern discoverer in science meets mivi is to be found 
in the life of Ohm, after whom, because of his disoov^ 
of the law of electrical resistance, the unit of resistance 
is called. When he made his discovery Ohm was work- 
iniBT in the Gymnasium at Cologne. The leading idiys- 
icists of tiie day could not bring themselves to o^iw 
that this comparatively jroung man— he was scaredy 
forty at the time— could have made a discovery that 
went far beyond their knowledge. His paper on tihe 
subject was discussed rather coldlv and wiHuxxt aaor 
recognition of the f ar-reachm^ signincance of the W€K 
thatne had accomplished. A distinguished representative 
of the University of Berlin criticised it severely. As the 
law was advanced on mathematical as wdl as ex* 
perimental grounds, tiie opinion of the uni verity autfacuv 
ities at Berun was looked upon as extremely important^ 
since at the time mathematics was the /orte there. The 
minister of education took his cue from the authoritieB 
at Berlin. Ohm and his friends urged his appointmoat 
to a university position. This was not only refused, but 
was rejected m such terms that Ohm off^ed his reog- 
nation as a teacher. His resignation was accepted wim 
regrets by the ministry, but with a distinct expresskm 
that Ohm must not expect other than a gymnasium posi* 
tion. The consequence of this misunderstanding was 
that other teaching institutions in Germany would not 
give him a place on their staff, because of the danger of 
misunderstanding with the ministry of education. Ohm 
had to accept a private tutorship in mathematics in 
Berlin and a few hours of teaching in a military school, 
for which he was paid three hundred thalers a year. 
This would be something over $200 in our money, though 
money was worth, in buying power, probably two or 
three times as much as it is at the present time. Six 
precious years of Ohm's life, at the very acme of his 
powers as an investigator, were thus spent away from 
the larger educational institutions and their opi)ortunities 
for research, because men would not accept the great 
discovery that he had made, and could not be brought to 
understand that a genius might come along to revolution- 
ize all their thinking, though he did his work from an 
obscure position, and practically attracted no attention 


before he found this wonderful clue to the maze of 
electrical science, which meant so much for the elucida- 
tion of difficulties hitherto insoluble. 

Always men find some excuse other than their own 
unwillingness to confess that they were wrong. It is to 
this that they object, and not the acceptance of the new 
truth. In the course of writing the biographies of the 
Makers of Modem Medicine, published last year, and the 
Makers of Electricity, which is now preparing for the 
press, one fact proved to be very striking. It is that 
discoverers of really great truths are practically always 
what we would call young men, and what older men are 
apt to think of as scarcely more than mere boys. Such 
men as Morgagni, the Father of Pathology ; Laennec, 
the Father of Pulmonary Diagnosis ; Stokes, who taught 
us so much about the lungs ; and Corrigan, who laid the 
foundation of exact knowledge in heart diseases,— were 
imder twenty-five when they made their primal dis- 
covery, and some of them scarcely more than twenty. 
Vesalius published his great work on anatomy when he 
was not yet thirty, and Stensen did his best work under 
twenty-five. When such men attempt to teach their 
elders, of course they are properly put in their places 
by their elders, and this often includes a good deal of 
bitter satire and discouragement. It is the eternal con- 
flict between youth and age that constitutes the main 
reason for opposition to progress in any form of knowl- 
edge, for youth will be progressive and age will be con- 
servative. Unfortunately age often dissembles the 
reasons for its opposition even to itself, and religion 
and common sense and supposedly established principles 
of science are all appealed to as contradicted by the new 
doctrine introduced by young men, the truth of which 
their elders cannot see. 

Nor must it be thought that the second half of the 
nineteenth century was free from this tendency to per- 
secute those who made advances in medicine. There is 
probably no form of treatment which, in the minds of 
those who know most about the disease, that has done 
more to save awful suffering in mankind than the 
Pasteur treatment for rabies. Anyone who knows any- 
thing about the history of the introduction of that 
treatment will not be likely to forget how much of pain 


and nffariiig Htm iiamwf aad i n taro d o e t fa m «f ifc eoit 
itB authorrNotfainff too bitter eoidd be aiOd hr the 
medical profeBsicm m Geaomar for many yean aftertiiB 
treatment was first broaehed. One of tfie most distin- 
guished d German medical disooreraiB in tlie afaah 
teenth centonr said, in a ver7 dimaz <tf satire ''thit 
the distmgoished Frenchman deserved to be well kDom 
as one who treated diseases of whidi he knew noliiiw 
by remedies of which he knew less." His food im 
WEB impugned, his statkrtics scorned, hw reedti 
lauglied at^ even his frienda hesitated to say anytidog 
on the sublect Those who were ckm to Pasteur knour 
that he suffered, for his nature was of the ntost aensi^ 
tive, veritaUe torment becrase of this Utter oi^odtioii, 
which at one time, because his Fr»ich coUeasoes also 
were sceptical of his treatment threatened to inqiair 
the usefiuness d our neatest cusooverer in nineteenth 
century medicine and leave him without tiiat sogpjpoit 
which would oiable him to go on with his i»eckiiis in- 

The more recmt furore against antitoxin is stiU in 
many persons' minds. Hiysidans who used it, and in 
whose cases serious results took place, not the eonse- 
quence of tiie antitoxin, but the consequence erf facton 
of the disease over which they had no control, s(»netimeB 
suffered seriously in their practice. All forms of oppo- 
sition were aroused against it Even at the present 
time one still hears of the crime, as some do not hesitate 
to call it, of injecting the serum of a diseased animal 
into the veins of the human being, and above all a little 
child. There are men (intelligent men !) who do not 
stop short of tracing all sorts of disease incidents that 
happen after such an injection, even many years later, 
to the evil effects of the horse serum employed. Sudi 
people are exercising that superstitious fanatic faculty 
which at all times has caused the obstinately conserva- 
tive to seek and find the most serious objections to any 
new doctrine, careless of the consequences that they 
might bring on the discoverer or the benefit they might 
prevent for the mass of humanity. 

Originally vaccination was opposed by certain clergy- 
men on the grounds of theological objection to its use. 
At the present time most of such objection has ceased. 


It is still clergymen, however, who are the most promi- 
nent among the anti-vaccinationists, though now they 
usually findf biological and pathological, instead of theo- 
logical reasons. They proclaim it a crime ^gainst nature, 
from the biological standpoint, that the disease of an 
animal should be conveyed to man, even for protective 
purposea At the present time one can find just as 
bitter objections to vaccination in anti- vaccination jour- 
nals as when the subject was first brought under dis- 
cussion. Men must find some reason for their oppo- 
sition, and they take the weapon that is handiest and 
that they are able to use with best effect In an era 
when theological ideas were dominant, theology was 
ready at hand for this purpose, but any other ology will 
do just as well, and tiie history of science, even in the 

E resent day, will show that always some ology, regard- 
^ss of human feelings, is used quite as ruthlessly and 
as cruelly as in the olden days. There are tortures of 
spirit that are worse than prison or even fire. 

When we recall how few examples there are of oppo- 
sition to science on the part of ecclesiastics, and how 
most of these prove on careful examination to be due to 
misunderstandings rather than to actual desire to 
prevent the development of science, the stories of the 
way in which discoveries in science were received in 
more modem times become a striking lesson that 
makes us appreciate the broad-mindedness and liberal 
policy of ecclesiastical educators in the olden time. 
They were evidently much more ready to accept novel 
ideas, and much less prone to set themselves up in 
opposition to them, than the educational authorities of 
more modem times. This is the phase of the history of 
education in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries that deserves the most careful study, and that 
should make modem educators feel proud of their 
kinship with these old founders and patrons in educa- 
tion, who at the same time furnish an example of 
liberality of mind that it would be very beneficial to 
have in our modem supposedly free universities. 

For while we are prone to be proud of our academic 
freedom, we have had more than one example in recent 
times of how dangerous it is for a man, even though he 
may be recognized as an authority in his department. 


to treat certain eocmomic questions tram a standpdnt 
that is not favored by tiie rest of the f aculty» cur by the 
Board of Govemon^ or, above all, by certain munificent 

Ktrons of the particular educatk>nal institution. Mudi 
s been said about religious educatk>nal institutions, 
about the middle of the nineteentii century, so hamper- 
ing the work of men in the idiysical sciences, espeaaOy 
with r^rard to problems in geology and evoluticm, as 
to nullify progress. Just this same tiling^ however, is 
true Willi regard to man:^ economic questions, beoiuse 
of the attitude of educational interests with regard to 
free trade and protecticm, single tax, and socialism and 
the like. No professor of science at a religious institih 
tion ever felt himself more in the grip of old-f ashM>ned 
notions tiian do certain professors in departments of 
finance and sociology with regard to problems that are 
now of the most profound interest Men have changed 
the reason for their conservatism, but the conservatism 
itself remains, and apparently always will remain. TUi 
is what must be realized wh^i the stories of ecclesiasti- 
cal oppositk>n to progress are tcdd. ' 


Latin text of the Papal bulls and decrees which are given in 
English in the body of this book. These documents are taken from 
Tomassetti's Bullarium, except the decree of John XXII. with re- 
gard to alchemies, which is taken from the Corpus Juris Canonici, 
Tome II., Lyons, 1779. 

Bull of Pope Boniface VIII. with regard to burials, which is sup- 
posed to have been misconstrued into a prohibition of dissection. 

De Sepulturis, Bonifacius VIIL Corpora def unctomm exentemantes, et ea im- 
maniter decoquentes, ut ossa a camibus separata f erant sepdienda in terrain suam, 
U>so facto sunt excommunicati. 

Cap. L Detestandae f eritatU abusum, quern ex quodam more (Alias, modo) horri- 
bili nonnulli fideles improvide prosequuntur, nos piae intentionis ducti propoeito, ne 
abusus praedicti saevitia ulterius corpora humana dilaceret, mentesque fideiium bor- 
rore commoveat, et perturbet auditum, difime decrevimus abolendum. Praefati nam- 
que fideles hujus suae improbandae utiqae consuetudinis vitio intendentes, si quisquam 
ex eis senere nobilis, vel dismitatis titulo insicrnitus, praesertim extra snanim partium 
limites debitum naturae persolvat, in suis, vel alienis remotis iMurtibus sepultura 
electa ; defuncti corpus ex quodam impiae pietatis affectu truculenter exenterant, ac 
niud membratim* vel in frusta immaniter concidentes, ea subsequenter aquis immersa 
exponunt iffnibus decoquenda. Et tandem (ab oasibus t^nunento camia excusso) 
eadem ad partes praedictas mittunt, seu def erunt tumulanda. Quod non solum Divi- 
nac majestatis conspectui abominabile plurimum redditur, sed etiam humanae con- 
aid crationis obtutibus occurrit vehementius abhorrendum. Volentes i^itur (prout officii 
noetri debitum exisrit), illud in hac parte remedium adhibere, per quod tantae abomi- 
nationis, tantaeque immanitatis, et impietatis abusus penitus deleatur. nee extenda- 
tur ad alios; Apostolica auctoritate statuimus, et ordinamus, ut cum quia cujuscum- 
que status, aut greneris, seu di^mitatis exstitent : in civitatibus, terris, seu locis, in 
quibus catholicae fidei cultus vi^ret, diem de caetero daudet extremum circa corpora 
def unctorum hujusmodi abusus, vel similis nullatenus observetur, nee fideiium manua 
tanta immanitate foedentur. Sed ut def unctorum corpora sic impie, ac crudeliter non 
tractentur, et def erantur ad loca in quibus viventes eligerint sepeliri. aut in civitate, 
castrow vel loco ubi decesserint, vel loco vicino ecclesiasticae sepulturae tradantur ad 
tempus, ita, quod demum incineratis corporibtis, aut alias ad loca ubi sepulturam 
diff erint, deportentur, et sepeliantur in eis. Nos enim si praedicti defuncti executor, 
vel executores, aut familiares ejus, seu quivis alii cujuscumque ordinis, conditionis, 
■tatus aut firradus fuerint etiam si pontificali dismitate praefulsreant, aliquid contra 
hujusmodi noetri statuti, et ordinationis tenorem praesumpserint attentare def unc- 
torom corpora sic inhumaniter et crudeliter pertractando^ vel f aciendo pertractari 


4L4 THS POPES Aim aaoiCB 


Decree of Bope John XXn. toMMtng aldieniks, by wlilch be 
prohibited the pretended making of gold and silvery but is Maimed 
to ba^e hampered the progress ol chemistry. 

AUDBMB bio pCOUWBtlBRi 9t yHHIIHltUf SMMBtaB €t utn | 

\6m rmo mho 
^pmatam dt Mm «t adnltwliio pomMnrat Bt d < 

lin sliameoamurtabitar.ot infuMitvit. Btsidnt 

«t «st Mb 

PI<O0PWitllI« ot flctH BMtSllil codttit piibooM I 

" ~ ~ !«■ 

iwlsntn comluv tflniponbui^ nwi cdlctul oo Hrt i t u t ioii o ■UBdnnii^ vt 
hajtumodi Aornm vd arsentom f ecerint, vel fieri Meuto facto numdaTortnt, ▼«! adhoe 
scienter (dum id fieret) facientilniB ministraverint, ant scienter vel aoro yel arsentoiisl 
faerint vendendo vel dando in solutum : verom tanti ponderis aorom vel aiK Cu timi 
poense nomine inferre coffantor in publicum pauperibns erocandum, quprnti Al<diimi- 
cum existat ; circa quod eos aliquo pnedictorum modomm kcritime oonatiterit ddi- 
quisse: f acientibus nihilominus aurum vd arrentmn Alchimicum ant ipso. pr«emittitiir» 
scienter utentibus perpetuae, infamie nota resperais. Quod si ad piwnfatam pcsnam 
pecuniamm exsolvendam deliquentiom ipsorum facultates non safBciant, poterit dis- 
creti moderatio judids poenam banc in aUam (puta carceris, vel alteram Jnxta qoalita- 
tem neffotii peraonarum differentiam aliasqne att«idendo drenmstsn tisw) commutare. 
nioe vero qui in tan tee iffnorantiam inf elicitatis proruperint, ut nedum nommos ▼edjiat, 
sed naturalis juris prascepta contemnant, artis excedant metas, leffumqne v»lant 
interdicta scienter videlicet adulterinam ex auro et anrento Alchimico cudendo sea 
f undendo, cudi sea fundi faciendo monetam ; bac animadvenriona peredli jubemna. at 
ipsorum bona deserantur carceri. ipsique perpetuo sint inf amee. Et si deriei fasrint 
ddinqucntes, ipsi ultra prasdictas pcsnas priventur beneflciia babitiB et prorsos red- 
dantor inbabiles ad babenda. 


Bull of Pope John XXII. forbidding certain magipal practices, 
which, like the prohibition of alchemies, protected his flock from 


sharpers of various kinds, sooth- say ers, pretended sorcerers, magic- 
ians, ei id genus otnne. This is the bull which Pres. White quotes 
under its Latin title, Super illius specula^ as if he had it under his 
eye at the moment of writing, and which he says ' ' shows Pope John 
himself, in spite of his infallibility, sunk in superstition the most 
abject and debasing ; for in this bull, supposed to be inspired from 
wisdom from on high, Pope John complains that both he and his 
flock are in danger of their lives by the arts of the sorcerers. He 
(the Pope) declares that such sorcerers can shut up devils in mirrors 
and finger-rings and phials and kill men and women by a magic 
word ; that they had tried to kill him by piercing a waxen image of 
him with needles in tfie name of the devil. ' ' 

Contra immolantes daemonibua, «ut responsa et auxilia ab eis poetulantes ; aWe 
tenentes libros de eiusmodi erroribus tractantes. 

loannea episcopus servus aervorum Dei, ad perpetuam rei mefnoriain. 

Super illius specula, quamvis iznzneriti, Eiusfavente dementia qui primuzn hominem 
humani quidem i^eneris protoplaaturo, terrenis praclatum, divinis virtutibua ador- 
natum, oonformem et consimilem imaffini sues fecit, revocavit profufunu ksem 
dando ; ac demum liberavit captivum. reinvenit perdituin* et rederait venditum, 
merito suje Paasionia, ut contemplaremur ex ilia super filioe hominum, qui christiame 
reliffionis culta Deum intelliffunt et requirunt : dolenter advertimus, quod etiam ctim 
noatrorum turbatione viscerum oogritamua quamplures ease solo nomine christianos, 
qui relicto primo veritatis lumine, tanto erroris calisrine obnubilantur, quod cum 
morie foedus ineunt, et pactum faciunt cum inferno : daemonibus namque immolant, 
hos adorant, f abricant ac fabricari procurant imanrines, annulum vel speculum, vel 
phialam, vel ran quamcumque aliam macrice ad daemonea inibi alligandoa, ab his 
petunt responsa, ab his redpiunt, et pro implendis pravis suis deaideriis auxilia 
postulant, pro re faet klissima faetidam exhibcnt servitutem : Proh dolor I hujus- 
modi morbus pestifer, nunc per mundum solito amplius convalescens. eccesaive 
irravius inficit Christi ffreirain. 

1. Cum iffitur, ex debito suscepti pastoralis offidi, oves aberrantes per devia teneamur 
ad caulas Christi exduderea srreflre dominico morbida8,ne alias oorrumpant: 
hoe edicto in perpetuum valituro, de consilio f ratrum nostronmi, monemus omnes et 
ainffuloe renatos f onto baptismatis, in virtute sanctSB obedientise, et sub intermina- 
tione anathematis, prsedpientes eisdem, quod nullus ipsorum aliquid de penrersia 
dictis doffmatibus docere ac addiscere audeat : vel, quod execrabilius eat, qnomodo- 
libet alio modo, in aliquo illis utL 

2. Et quia diffnum est, quod hi, qui per sua opera perversa spemunt Altiasimum, 
posnis suis pro culpis debitis percellantur : nos in omnea et sinsuloa, qui contra 
nostra saluberrima monita et mandata facere de praadictis quioquam presumpserint, 
excommunicationis sententiam promul^ramus, quam ipsos incurrere volumus ipso 
facto. Statuentes firmiter, quod praeter poenas prsedictas, contra tales, qui admoniti 
de pnedictis seu praedictorum aliquo infra octo dies a monitione oomputandoa praef ata, 
a prsefatis non ae correxerint, ad inflisendas pcenas onmea et ainarulas, praeter Do- 
norum confiscationem dumtaxat, quas de iure merentur hseretid, per auoa compe- 
tentea indices procedetur. 

8. Verum cum ait exi>ediens, quod ad hsec tam nefanda omnia via omniaque oecaaio 
pnecludatur, de dictorum nostrorum f ratrum consilio. univcrsis praecipimus et man- 
damus, quod nullus eorum libeUoa, acriptoraa quaacumque ex praef atia danmatia arro- 
bus quioquam eontinentea, habere aut tenere vel in ipsis studere prsesumat ; quin 


90tliuiinaiiiniiii^ itln vliiiito MuisCn obidiiiitte cmifll 

•b .IminHBodl €di ct i uosici iiotfti> compiitaiidiiiiu faiiiinn €t In teto ct in 4| 

pute sboliKv 0t oonlniNra ttoMiitnr : sUoquIb voliUBuib Quod inratmijfcflmtaBliH 

Boll of Pope John XXII. authorizing tiie institntion of ch«in fd 
medicine and arts in the Uhlreraity of Peniipa. The boll afaows 
John's care for the maintenance of standards in edocation, and is a 
revelation by its anticipation of requirements for the Doctor's Degree 
that we are only now coming to enforce once more. 

wptritnr, hndsndi idiBibgt inenoMata snaelpiMit: sad In il 
p«Mh»Tig«nat«P»nd mnltilpUcaada doetrln« Mmlna <S soniaa nhrtaii i 
eidn few ntngfa a wwmmwl n <t id o n w i dj gno a CT mtmr, 

L Dndom slqiiidMn fsUdii noardslSonii dwiwni Fupa 
ntteDdoBS ildfli pozltatwa «t davotfonem «adiniam, oonn dvIlM F^ 
liaris RonuuMB Eedealg, wA ipaam Ecdadam ab olfan h«lm<Me dignoaeitor, ct quod illM 
ad earn auccessibas tempomm de bono in melius aufimmentarat, divnum diudt at 
nquitati consonum existixnavit, ut civitatem eamdem. quam divina gratia multamm 
prserosativa bonitatum sratioae dotaverat, conceasione genetalis Studii inaiffniret : et 
ut auctore Deo ex civitate ipsa producerentur viri scientia pnepoUentea auctoritata 
apoatolica atatuit. ut in ea esset Studium generale, ffludque vigeret ibidem perpetoia 
futuria temporibus in qualibet facultate^ prout in literis prssdeceaaoria eioadem inda 
conf ectia plenius dicitur continerL 

2. Ac aubsequenter noa, licet immeriti, ad apicem Summi Apoatolatua aaaumpti, 
civitatem eamdem propter siue devotionis insigmia quibus ae dignam Apoatolicaa Sedia 
gratia exhibebat, uberiore dono gratisB proeequi cupientea, auctoritata apoatolica da 
f ratrum nostrorum consilio, venerabili f ratri noatro episcopo Peruaino et aucceaaod- 
bus eiua episcopus iVrtmnis, qui esaent pro tempore, impertiendi peraonia ad hoe 
idoneia docendi licentiam in iure canonico et civili iuxta certum modnm in literia 
noatria expressimi, liberam conceasimus potestatem, prout in eiadem literia noatria 
plemua et aerioaiua continetur. 

3. Considerantea igitur, quod eadem civitaa propter eiua commoditatea et condi- 
ticmea quamplurimaa est non modicum apta atudentibua, ac propterea oonceasionea 
huiuamodi ob prof actus publicoe, quoa exinde provenire speramus. ampliare volentea, 
apostolica auctoritata atatuimua ut si qui processu temporis in eodem Studio f uerint. 
qui etiam in medidnali scientia et liberalibua artibus scientise bravium asaecuU. sibi 
docendi licentiam, ut alioa liberina erudire valeant, petierint in perpetuum, in pr»- 
dictis medidnali scientia et artibus examinari poasint ibidem et in eiadem facultatibut 


titolo maffistflrii deeonri : stataentes, at qnotienB aliqal in pnedictiB medieiiw et ar- 
tiboB f aerint doctorandi, pnesententur «piacopo Perusinob qui pro tempore f uerit, yd 
ei, quem ad hoc praodictus episcopua duxerit deputandum, qui maffistris huiuamodi 
facultatis, in qua ezaminatio f uerit facienda, in studio eodem praesentibna, qui ad 
minus quatuor numero in examinatione huiusmodi esse debeant, convocatis eos gratis, 
et difficultate quaeumque sublata, de scientia, facnndia, modo leirendi, et aliis, quaa in 
promovendis ad doctoratua seu maaistratua offidum requiruntur, examinari studeat 
diliffenter ; et illoe, quoe idoneoe repererit, petito secrete maffistrorum eorumdem con- 
atlio, quod utique consiliam in ipsorum consulentium dispendium yd iacturam reye- 
lare quomodolibet districtius prohibemus, approbet et admittat, eisque petitam 
licentiam laiflriatur: alios minus idoneoe nuUatenus admittendo^ pos^xwitis gratia, 
odio yel f ayore. 

4. Ut autem in praedictis medicina et artibus prasf atum Studium tanto plenius 
eoalescat, qnanto peritiores doctores in huiusmodi suis primitiis ibidem caeperint acta 
reffere etdocere^ statuimus, quod usque ad triennium yel quatriennium aliqui doctores, 
duo ad minus, qui in medicinal! scientia in Parisien. yd Bononien. aut aliis famosis 
flTcneralibus Studiis honorem receperint doctoratua, ad docendum et regendum in 
acientia medicinas et tree yel duo ad minus, qui in artibus in Parisien. Studio apud 
maiorem Parisien. Ecclesiam docendi licentiam fuerint assecuti, et saltem per annum 
rexerint, sue docuerint in Parisien. Studio memorato^ ad resendum et docendum in 
dictis artibus in prsefato Perusin. Studio assumantur. qui usque ad quatriennium yd 
quinquennium, donee praaf atum Studiiun in bonis studentibus laudabiliter proffressum 
acceperit, resant et doceant in eodem. 

6. Circa doctorandos yero in scientia medicinae hoc prtecipue obeenretur, ut huius- 
modi deoorandi audiverint omnes libros dusdem scientiao, qui in Bononien. yel Pari- 
sien. Studio a studentibus promovendis consueyerunt audiri, per septennium. yd qui 
in loglcalibus aut philosophia alias forent suffidenter instruct! saltem per quin- 
Qoennium in scientia praodicta studerint, ita quod saltem tribus annis dusdem sep- 
tennii yd quinqucnni, ut praedicitur, in medicinali scientia audierint in aliquo Studio 
senerali. et ut moris est* responderint sub doctoribus et extraordinarie le^erint libros 
lesi extraordinarie consuetos, servato circa examinationem ipsius in medicime sci- 
entia promoyoidi more laudabili. qui in talibus ersa eoe, qui promoyentur in Parisien. 
▼d Bononien. Studio obseryatur. 

6. Circa doctorandos yero in artibus liberalibus etiam obeenretur, quod studuerint 
per quatuor yd quinque annos, do quibus saltem duobus annis audierint in aliquo 
Stodioflrenerali : ita yidelicet ut in fframmatica Priscianum maiorem et minorem, et 
in dialectica Losricam noyam et yeterem Anstotdis, ac in philosophia librum de 
anima. et saltem quatuor libros EZthicorum ; et tarn in iia, quam in caeteris aliis libe- 
ralibus artibus illos alios libros audierint, qui in Parisien. Studb per promoyendoa in 
dicta facultate artium consueyerint audiri, seryato circa examinationem tam in 
communibus quam in propriis ipsius artibus promoyendi more laudabili, qui in 
talibus erara eos, qui promoyentur, apud praefatam maiorem Ecclesiam Parisien. 

7. Verum quia non passim reperiuntur in Studiis, qui omnes huiusmodi libros 
audierint, pnefato Perusin. episcopo suisque successoribus Perusin episcopis, qui 
pio tempore fuerint. indul^remus, ut in auditione aliorum praef atorum librorum de 
forma circa licentiandoe ipsos in artibus, prout sufficientia eorumdem licentiandorum 
exesrerit et sibi yidebitur expedire, auctoritate nostra yaleat dispensare. 

8. nii autem, qui in dicta ciyitate Perusin. taliter examinati et approbati fuerint, 
ac docendi licentiam obtinuerint, ut est dictum, ex tunc, absque examinatione yd 
approbatione alia, regendi et docendi ubique picnam et liberam habeant auctoritate 
praesentium facultatem, nee a quoquam yaleant prohiberL 

9. Sane ut rite in praefatis examinationibus procedatur, praBcipimas. at tam epia- 


• sad aon tMtiB BfaasiUiip ab aliii T«» eon^ovditw tM«fa i^^ 

I n dri Hu f <HQiiiPitug» V<jlniiiiM wiImb ^nod pmooiiy <pmb pv 
qptftn ftuniit idooMi^ hwlmmodi IlomttedisbMitariB^ 
portiri* 4t QQod IdsB •piaeopiis pcnonditMr; Bon pv Tieariumvil ■abstitiitani wnnj^ 

B«Bmil mlii«mniWlnfr»iHi <iAa«t' tiiriM«rf <»»HqH^» *«ln«ialim<<«iM«^^ fcw ^ 

quod nMmnoii pa na^ la infaaHotri ptmSktm p wrimiakm piwif hm <riilb— ; fa 
QUO om aidwn 6|>iioopo iiit<w<Ddi €BUiinimtfcipHmiMmodt pflrTiewluui* vilflBiBB 
•d hoe i do n o uin ■dfaotftatmi^ tonofo pnoMiitiiiiii fadulgimi s 0t <|iiod iwmilwi Indaiih 
BBodl impartfator Iie«itta» aM, €i qiMn omnii ¥ii nMdoKpawdDC to w un .^hnfa^' 
BBodI oonmliifttiaiii iuCarai'iiit* ipptotebniitk 

10. Itogfatri qooqn% wgw In •od«p Stndio cupfan tMu ^iJ •»■• inibi i m MwI M i 
mtmu i n indpfantit piflBStsnt in manflias dieti spiMopi iusiMBtBiii^ qood Ipsl ^osirtto 
■d OTinitfirtl o ii OB CMdflBi T>iiliB(ti» nW fioiviiit loKftibiM Impeditl^ stsntisilMdHik 
enltate dabunt <nrimfaatori fldfto fmnantom. qnl d« '*"*-'''*-**- nt dimi i 
doboutantliMUsiiiiiMritononadmlttL Qui two inkaiMiitn 
Bolncrfait, nae adoKamiiimtloiMsooriiiBdMBi, Mectkmad aUqiw 

11. Nnnn 

pio h i b itlo nl i> cwnciiont^ pnoeapti €t TolmitetiB inflriiicflPik ate. 
Drtam ATwdoni, dgodoetmo Indwrt— BMurtU, pontjfleitiamoitrii 
Dst dte 18 f •fanMrtt USL pontif . aimo ▼. 

Bnll of Pope John XXII. in which he authorises the Uma5at$km of 
a University in the City of Cahors, his birthplace, as a memorial 
of his interest in the townspeople and a monnment of his zeal lor 

Confirmatio ereetlonfa Univenitatto studioram in eivitate GadnreenaL 

loannes episcopus servus Bervorom Dei, ad perpetoam rei memoriam. 

Cum civitas Caduroensis, qoam exoellentiaB divins bonitas maltiplidiim aratfi^ 
ram bonia et dotibua decoravit* propter ipsiua commoditateB et coiiditkmea qoaiii* 
plurimaa apta non modicum generali Stodio oenseatur, noa reipubUcsB moltlplieiter 
expedire credentes, quod in eivitate praef ata fiat et emanet f ona adentiaram lrriffoii% 
de cuiua plenitudine hauriant univerai, litteralibua cupientea imbui docimMiitia» a| 
etiam cultorea aapientiae inaerantur et proyehantur diversamm facnltatom dagn% 
tibua eruditi, facundi et undique illustrati. f ructum uberem, larsienta DomiiMx eoo 
tempore producturi ; attendentes quoque aincene fidei puritatem, ae •»<»»**^ de?o* 
tionia affectum, quoa dilecti filii consulea et Univeraitaa eiuadem civitatia ad noa el 
Bomanam Ecdesiam habere noacuntur: ex predictia cauaia, porreetia etiam nobb 
pro parte conaulum ct Universitatia prsddictsa humilibua et devotia anppUcationibaa 
inclinati, auctoritate apostolica atatuimua et ordinamna. quod in eivitate piaBdicta 
perpetuia f uturis temporibua genorale Studium habeatur et vigeat in quaUbet licita 
facultate, quodque pnefatum Studium, ae eiua Univeraitaa* ac doetorea, maafalx i 
licentiati, baccalaurei et acholares pro tempore commorantea cauaa atodiomm ibidaiu 
omnibua privilesiia, liberatibua et immunitatibaa, ooncaHaia Studio ' 
Universitati eiua, plane et libere gaudeant et utantur. 

NuHi ergo omnino hominum etc. 

Datum Avenione vii idua iunii, pontifimtna noatri anno xvL 

Dat. die 7 iunii 1832, pont. anno xvi 



It is nsually presumed that the practice of medicine was on a very 
low plane during the Middle Ages, and that while only little was 
known about medical science, the methods of practicing the medical 
art were crude, as befitted an earlier time in evolution before modem 
advances had come. Any such impression is founded entirely on 
ignorance of the conditions which actually existed. In his studies 
in the history of anatomy in the Middle Ages, Von Tttply * quotes 
the law for the regulation of the practice of medicine issued by the 
Emperor Frederick II. in 1240 or 1241. The Law was binding on 
the two Sicilies, and shows exactly the state of medical practice in 
the southern part of Italy at this time. Everything that we think 
we have gained by magnificent advances in modern times is to be 
found in this law . A physician must have a diploma from a university 
and a license from the government ; he must have studied three years 
before taking up medicine— then three years in a medical school, and 
then must have practiced with a physician for a year before he 
will be allowed to take up the practice of medicine on his own ac- 
count. If he is to take up surgery, he must have made special studies 
in anatomy. The law is especially interesting because of its regula- 
tion of the purity of drugs, in which it anticipates by nearly seven 
centuries our Pure Drug Law of last year. (This law was published 
in the form here given in the ' * Journal of the American Medical 
Association," January, 1908.) 

*' While we are bent upon making regulations for the common- 
weal of our loyal subjects, we keep ever under our observation the 
health of the individual. In consideration of the serious damage 
and the irreparable suffering which may occur as a consequence of 
the inexperience of physicians, we decree that in future no one who 
claims the title of physician shall exercise the art of healing or dare 

1 Studien sur Geschicbte der Anatomto im Mittdaltar von Bobort Bitter Von 
TOply. Ldpsiff. 1896. 


to treat the ftiling, except snchM ba^e beforehand, in our Univenitj 
of Salerno, {Mssed a pnblie examination nnder a regular teacher of 
medicine, and been Riven a certificate not only by the profeaaor of 
medicine, bnt also by one of onr civil oflldals, which declares his 
trustworthiness and sufficient knowledge. This docoment must be 
presented to us, or in our absence from the kingdom to the person 
who remains behind in our stead, and must be followed by the ob- 
taining of a license to practice medicine either from us or from our 
representative aforesaid. Violation of this law is to be punished by 
confiscation of goods and a year in prison for all those who in 
future dare to practice medicine without such permission from our 

' ' Since students cannot be expected to learn medical science unless 
they have previously been grounded in logic, we further decree that 
no one be permitted to take up the study of medical science without 
beforehand having devoted at least three ftdl years to the study of 
logic." (Under logic at this time was included the study of prac- 
tically all the subjects that are now taken up in the arts department 
of ottr universities. Huxley, in his address before the University of 
Aberdeen on the occasion of his inauguration as Rector of that Uni- 
versity, said that "the scholars [of the early days of the univer- 
sities] studied Grammar and Rhetoric ; Arithmetic and Geometry ; 
Astronomy, Theology and Music." He added : "Thus their work, 
however imperfect and faulty, judged by modern lights, it may have 
been, brought them face to face with all the leading aspects of the 
many-sided mind of man. For these studies did really contain, at 
any rate, in embryo— sometimes, it may be, in caricature— what we 
now call Philosophy, Mathematical and Physical Science, and Art. 
And I doubt if the curriculum of any modern university shows so 
clear and generous a comprehension of what is meant by culture 
as the old Trivium and Quadrivium does." Huxley, Science and 
Education Essays, page 197. New York, D. Appleton & Co., 
1896.— J. J. W.) 

"After three years devoted to these studies, he (the student) may, 
if he will, proceed to the study of medicine, provided always that 
during the prescribed time he devotes himself also to surgery, which 
is a part of medicine. After this, and not before, will he be given 
the license to practice, provided he has passed an examination in 
le^al form as well as obtained a certificate from his teacher as to his 


studies in the preceding time. After having spent five years in 
stndy, he shall not practice medicine until he has daring a fall year 
devoted himself to medical practise with the advice and under the 
direction of an experienced physician. In the medical schools the 
professors shall during these five years devote themselves to the 
recognized books, both those of Hippocrates as well as those of 
Galen, and shall teach not only theoretic, but also practical medicine. 

* ' We also decree, as a measure intended for the furtherance of 
Public Health, that no surgeon shall be allowed to practice, unless 
he has a written certificate, which he must present to the professor 
in the medical faculty, stating that he has spent at least a year at 
that part of medicine which is necessary as a guide to the practice of 
surgery, and that, above all, he has learned the anatomy of the 
human body at the medical school, and is fully equipped in this 
department of medicine, without which neither operations of any 
kind can be undertaken with success nor fractures be properly 

''In every province of our Kingdom which is under our legal 
authority, we decree that two prudent and trustworthy men, whose 
names must be sent to our court, shall be appointed and bound by a 
formal oath, under whose inspection electuaries and syrups and other 
medicines be prepared according to law and only be sold after such 
inspection. In Salerno in particular, we decree that this inspector- 
ship shall be limited to those who have taken their degrees as 
Masters in Physic. 

** We also decree by the present law, that no one in the Kingdom, 
except in Salerno or in Naples (in which were the two universities 
of the Kingdom), shall undertake to give lectures on medicine or 
surgery, or presume to assume the name of teacher, unless he shall 
have been very thoroughly examined in the presence of a Govern- 
ment official and of a professor in the art of medicine. 

' ' Every physician given a license to practice must take an oath 
that he shall faithfully fulfil all the requirements of the law, and in 
addition, whenever it comes to his knowledge that any apothecary 
has for sale drugs that are of less than normal strength, he shall re- 
port him to the court, and besides he shall give his advice to the 
poor without asking for any compensation. A physician shall visit 
his patient at least twice a day, and at the wish of his patient once 
also at night, and shall charge him, in case the visit does not re- 


quire him to go out of the Tillage ot beyond the walls of the citf . 
not more than one*hatf tarrene in gold for each day*s service." (A 
tarrene in gold was equal to about thirty cents of our money. Money 
had at least twenty times the purchasing power at that time that it 
has now. At the end of the thirteenth century, according to an Act 
of the Englbh Parlinment^ a workman received 4d [eight cents] a ilay 
for hts labi^r, and according to the same Act of Parliament the fol- 
lowing prices were charged for commodities : A pair of shoes cost 
eight cents, that is, a day*s wages. A fat goose cost seven centa^ 
less than a day*s wages. A fat sheep unshorn cost thirty- five cents; 
shorn, about twenty *five cents. For foar days pay a man could get 
enough meat for himself and family to live on (or a week^ besides 
material out of which his wife could make excellent garments for 
the family. A fat hog cost twice as much as a fat sheep, and a 
bnllock about six times as much.— J. J. W.) " Krom a patient whom 
he visits outside of the village or the wall of the town, the physician 
has a right to demand for a day's service not more than three tar- 
reoes, to which maybe added, however » his expenses, provided that 
he does not demand more than four tarrenes altogether. 

"He (the regnlarly licensed physician) must not enter into any 
business relations with the apothecary, nor must he take any of 
them under his protection nor incnr any money obligations in their 
regard.** (Apparently many different ways of getting round this 
regulation had already been invented, and the idea of these expres- 
sions seemed to be to make it very clear in the law that any such 
business relationship, no matter what the excuse or method of it, is 
forbidden.— J. J. W.) **Nor must any licensed physician keep an 
apothecary's shop himself. Apothecaries must conduct their business 
with a certificate from a physician, according to the regulations and 
upon their own credit and responsibility, and they shall not be per- 
mitted to sell their products without having taken an oath that all 
their drugs have been prepared in the prescribed form, without any 
fraud. The apothecary may derive the following profits from his 
sales : Such extracts and simples as he need not keep in stock for 
more than a year before they may be employed may be charged for 
at the rate of three tarrenes an ounce." (90 cents an ounce seems 
very dear, but this is the maximum.) ** Other medicines, however, 
which in consequence of the special conditions required for their 
preparation or for any other reason the apothecary has to have in 



Stock for more than a year, lie may charge for at the rate of six tar* 
renes an ounce. Stations for the preparation of medicines may not 
be located an3rwhere, but only in certain communities in the King- 
dom, as we prescribe below. 

"We decree also that the growers of plants meant for medical 
purpose shall be bound by a solemn oath that they shall prepare 
medicines conscientiously, according to the rules of their art, and as 
far as it is humanely possible that they shall prepare them in the 
presence of the inspectors. Violations of this law shall be punished 
by the confiscation of their movable goods. If the inspectors, how- 
ever, to whose fidelity to duty the keeping of these regulations is 
committed, should allow any fraud in the matters that are entrusted 
to them, they shall be condemned to punishment by death." 


A.A. A.S. 811 

Abditif de catuia morborum 84 

Accident* of fevers 213 

Achievement, human 806 

Achillini 76. 86. 92. 106. 244 

Achillinus (see above) 

AddiBon 85 

After care of insane 871 

Asenius. Otto 47 

Asrnofltic 262 

Afirnus Dei 199 

Albert (see Albertus) 

Albertus BCasmus 102. 184. 287. 296. 30^ 324 
botany 818; physical ^eoffraphy 318 
science 299; scientific treatises 819 
scientific works 819 

Albiffenses 257 

Albucasis 99 

Alchemy 134. 135 

Aldcrotti, Thaddcus 206 

Alexander VI. 215. 231 

Allbutt 83, 173. 1F5. 194, 196. 214. 606 

Allston. Washinfirton 391 

Alma Mater Studiorum 94 

Alphanus 228 

America, discovery of 316 

AmerifiTo Vespucci 283 

Amalfiram 135 

Ampdre 281 

Anatomical preparations 46 ; work at Rome 

Anatomy, history of 114. 62; Father of 
111; Golden Afire SO; myths 61; Re- 
naissance of 112; supposed prohibi- 
tion 28 

Anaxasroras 861 

Aneurysms 248 

Angelico 92 

Anerelo 90, 112 

Ansrel butterfly 868 

Antrleworms dried 184 

AnnalA of Anatomy and Sursrery 116. 233 

Annihilation 313 

Anomalies 185 

Antimony. Triumphal Chariot of 136 

Antipodes 316 

Ant8 358 

Applied science 829 

Aquinas 136. 306. 823. 325 

Arabisms 170 

Arabs, surarical kxiowledsre of ITOi 192 

Aranzi 245 

Archives, Hospitalidres 268 

Ardem, John 188 

Arsrelata 76 

Aristotle 218; 292 ; a man 29B ; erron o< 

Arnold of Villanova 135. 186. 210 
Arts and architecture 829 ; seven devillA 

Arts and Sciences, Gonsress of 178 
Astroloflry 158. 212 
Astronomy 140 
Auenbrufirsrer 243. 408 
Augsburflr 261 
Aumistine. St. 112. 296, 827 
Authors, second-rate 816 
Autopsy on a living person 117; on 

Cardinals 68 
Autopsy, legal 72 
Avicenna 99. 188 
Aviffnon 79. 164, 182, 211; derdopiiMBt 

of 139 
Aaarias, Brother -844 

B.A.A.S. 811 

Bacon, Francis 283. 332, 860 

Bacon, Roger 184. 306. 321. 823. 827, 8K 

BaQlie 85 

Balliol College 96 

Bartholonueus Anglicus 888 

Bartholomew the Englishman 886 

Bartolo 270 

Basd 106 

Basfl. Valentine 186 

Bauhin 209 

Baunette 806 

Baverius de Baverils 218 

Bede 316 

Bedlam 266. 872; visitors' feea 878 

Bedlamites 874 

Bedlams 874 

Bees 868 

Belgium. Cathdie 102 

BeUinis 90 

Benedict XIV. 218. 228 

Benedictines and medicine 224; of St. 

Maur 68, 64 
Benivieni 83. 86. 99. 106 
Bersngar of Carpi 82.86.106^116,246^899 
Berengarius 77 
Bertapaglia 77 
Berthelot 132 
Bertrand, M. 894 
Bertrucci 92, 186 
Besaneon 264 

Bethlehem Hospital 889i 872 
Black Death 272 
Blepharitis 206 
Bkwd. shedding of 168. 191 




tv. tl 

BalosBB Ul 11«» lai UBl IH 11^ SB; 
• Papal CSHar tt 

>M<iiUwil School Ui 


jvin. ML ua 

Botdftwe'i^ Pom Ban 
te dt; tat 

Boteor 1401 UB: nodiima SIS 
BnUmnoftlMOomBMiLlft 97 


gmek 118 


, 1& U8; 119L 817, flB 

OUion U6^ lat mSbx 
DOfraotioBof 80 
,Bllodommrtory M • 
aoo 181 

10 8» 


GManet 808^ 880 
OMhvIi 180 
OMboni 186 
OtottorlMofSlna 838 
OtoeodlAwMlo 811 
ChMlooV. Ua 118^ 817 

GhMiUoe 45, 7< 178. 180, IBl, 810 ; I 

mmn 210 
Chmuvinism 287 
Chemicum Theatnim 186 
Chemistry, story of 184 
Children attending schools 844 
Chirunria Msffna 176^ 187 
Chirunria Parva 187 
Chlorosis, iron for 214 
Church and art 21 ; educatton 21 ; letters 

22: science 22 
Christ's Hospital 255 
Church, pressure of 190 
Circulation of the blood 288 
City Hospitals 248.370 
Classic histories misleadinff 25 
Claude Bernard 233 
Clavis Sanationis 209 
Clavius. S. J.. Father 217, 8G0 

Cleanliness, surfidcal 279 

aementV. 185.150.210; VUL 237; XL 

242; XIII. 219 
Climate at Rome 248 
Climatology 140 
Cod liver oil 230 
Colosrne 251. 318. 825 
St. Cdmc College 195 
Colony system 367. 872 
Columbus 86. 90. 113. 216. 282 
Committee of inspection 878; of inveotisa- 

tion 878 

OoiicriKatiQiiof8t.llMir 84 

liwttlMTkvtIi M 
— rionnt 110 

Omratt^VonuSa m 
Ooiitsol^ wiUMisklnni 

Oop«ihae«w tJaivwritrof m 
Oopporandcidd 809 

Qama 180 


OofAdl 74 

OmikahMik 181 
Oeumdmaiwnrgmr 188 
QyeioBofiBtwert 181 

841; M a natnro i 

■vddfeoet 8a; liko GooUm 
•ducKtloii 881 ; ** "nl'ntiH of i 

DnvmbOTV 188 

Ikurwin 898 

Dunoa 64. 880; Prata 

Doerotala, sixth book of 08 

Dodn etjop 180i 809 

EMhietionsiD Ustonr 88 

MhMiamuU 288 

De Maktw i 91. 166, 884 

DowiocritUB 881 

Demonical possession 888 

jDs Afottt Omiis 242 

De Natura r§rum 888 

Denifle 806 

De Re Anatomica 286 

Desiderata for insane 871 

Desiderius 227 

Development of anatomy 68 

Diabetes 180 

Dillon. Arthur 266 

Dino de Garbo 212 

Director, surgical 188 

Disease, eradication 275 ; What, Where 86 
nothinsT 864 

Disinterested scholars 802 

Dissection at Rome 69; at Venice 88; 
first 1302 87; numerous 77 ; heroof 111; 
in public 58 ; permissions 51 ; practice 
of 63; Rashdall on 37; supposed pro> 
hibition 29; systematic 76; was it 
hampered? 86; wounds 47 

Documentary evidence 2S 

Dogmatism 895 

Doctorates 154 

Donatello 112 

DQuatuE 805 

Donkey, breath of 167. 188 

Draper. Dr. 284 

Dropsy, cause 174 

Ducks, queerest 203 

DnritUa renum 174 



ta,8t. 878 
a 180 


shape-size 816 

iutical institutiains 8S9 

nicB 412 

m 9M 

tkm and Popes 19; medical 66; 

iliminary 141, 168 ; Pope John XXII. 

1 141 

d VL 2&fi 

Uit, £hi QuatJiar 208 

ith. Queen &4, 2S5 

:ma tg& 

lo[t«di&. first 3S4 ; Britannica 188 

?, toj^ftprvation 314 

Kinnji:. mechanleaJ 380 

■y 214 

ft, fotir marvelDUH 161 

it 13T 

elas 276 

I, educational 844 

•ans 161 

ie. Empress 289 

:hiu8 18. 86. 114. 119, 216 

ion. footsteps of 390 ; m human af- 

rs 332 ; of science 93 

eration. pious 203 

imentalism 297 

iment in optics 848 

Am 368. 374 

mirantes 81. 124 

a, corporis human! 108 

ius 187 

cation, crime of 126 

ly 285 

• of electricity 266 

a 243 

( 213 

:e 412 

ms. wounds made by 215 

.Dr. 233 

arry the plague 239 

ce 83 

un University Medical School Z 



ie teller 129 

, Sir Michael 107; Prof. Med. 237 
re, rut* de 362 

ation for modem thouffht 806 
liner House 258 
isate 245 
3 174 

is of Siena 218 

is. Saint 828 

isSperetis 881 

fort 251 

nek n., body 8< 68 

itiea 333 

I 187 

rt of Chartres 227 

Gaixdnar 256 

Galen 188, 194 

GalUeo 16. 19, 289l 806. 832, 886 

Galvanl 282 

Gardner 270 

Generation, spontaneoos 92 

Gentilis 77 

Geosrraphy 140 

Geolosry, foundation 401 

Gerbert 227 

Gesner 819 

Gheel 867 

Ghent 273 

Gilbert 806 ; of Colchester 286 

Giordano Bruno 393 

Giliani, Alessandra 46 

Giotto 92 

Gladstone 898 

Glaucoma 230 

Goisbert 227 

God's hostelry 260 

Gold, bricks 15 ; from sea water 127 

CotiorrlHB* ISO 

Gordon 185 

Gould. Dr. G«D, M. 406 

Government int*Tfered 279 

GrandfAtberof Vccaliua 110 

CwnLvsm riflofj 75 

Grecisms 170 

GreuroryVIl 227: IX. 205; XI. 212 

Guidov or tidy of Monlpelier 260 

GuJnicf^Jli ;!4iQ4 

Guyotdo Provms 308 

GEinLher of Andemach 103 


Habits, reliffious 278 ; of prayer 876 

Heckel 893 

Haeser 182 

Haly 183 

Banffmu), tcnich of IBS 

Harvey 0G. 119^ 234, 306. 896. 897 

Benltb. Key of 2Q9 

Heart aa a muscle 400 

HildL*brand 227 

Hildier 221 

"HinGh'a BLosTapHlcsl Lexicon 242 

History li«i I2a 122. 286 

History of Science 16; of the Court of 

Rome 56 
HsAtoiro littcmlro do la France 81, 63, Ct 
Hoeftr 132 

Holmenv Oliver Wendell 211, 405 
IlciJy Ghost, flin aEaln^t 3fi 
HonoriuB nL 273: 17. £74 
Hooke, Robert 4D5 
Hospital orKaniiation 248; of Holy Spirit 

250; nurainiT 362; communi^ 273; 

Siena 2t^; for ^ryH^piilu 277 
Hounds, biUB &T mad 161 
Bcmsesisns 253 
HoaseofGcd 266 
HtiffoD«Setii» 77 

HumlK»1dt 31Cr on medical jiclenee 20.366 
Humanitarmn in^titytlans 2jii4 
HuxIpjt on Galil«^ 17; Pref. 894 
Hydrophobia 181 
Hypodermics 197 
Hysteria 214 



letenM 180 

lamatias Loyola 201 , ^„.^ 

liCDorance. sublime 26 ; fovr svoonds of 290 

UConvito 862 

Imacre. waxen 146. 169 

Indestructibility of mattar 812 

Infallibility 86» 148. 168 

Induction 169 

Ionization 811 

Innocentm. 249l 273, 276, 870; XL 240; 
XII. 242 

Inunctions, mercurial 216 

Insanity in Middle Acres 863 

Insane colony 377 ; non-violent 877 ; brut- 
ally treated 878 : in the poor houseH 
878; harmless 879 

Inquisition 112. 118 

Inter eeteraa euros 160 

Intestines 185 

Interference, spiritual 880. 385 

Institutions. Uirge 867 

Institutional system 877 

Instruments. illustrationB of 181. 186 

Intuition 884 

Investisations by experiment 296 

Italy, post-graduate work in 96 

Latin Empire 268 

Lavoisier 898 

Lead into silver 809 

Leproscries 274 

LeSexte 66 

LeoXm. 188. 827; X. 215 

Lionardo da Vind 90 

Leyden 241 

Liber Cosmoffraphicus 817 

Library of Canon and Civil Law 

Linacre 98 

Lithium into copper 810 

Livers, extracts 230 

Lodge. Sir Oliver 383 

Logic groundwork of 64 

Lombroso 388 

Lords the Poor 260 

Louis IX. 884; body 84 

Louvain 100; University of UB 

Lubbock. Sir John 859 

Lucan 858 

Lucretius 858 

Lully. Raymond 808 

Lunar rainbows 818 

Lung Abscess 180 

Lutheranism 102 

Lyons Council 826 

Jackson, Dr. Geo. 116 

Jacquea de Vitry 266 

Janus 207. 228 

JeUiffe 867 

Jenner 402 

Jesuitism 60 

Jesuits 232 

Joannes de lomamira 212 

John XXn. 121 ; and education 143. 207, 223 

John of Vigo 214 

John of Chartrea 227 * 

Jordan, David Starr 390 

Jordan, Pres. 395 

Joubert 197 

Julius II. 214 

Kelly, Dr. Howard 239 
Ken. Bishop 359 
Kepler 385 
Kircher 18, 238 
Knights Hospitalers 261 
Knowledge, advance 306 
Kopp 131 
Kropotkin 180. 332 
Kuhns. Prof. L. Oscar 347 

Lachrimal fistula 208 
Laennec 403 
Lanfranc 68, 79, 173, 175 
Lane lectures 237 
Lancisi 241 
Im Place 405 
Lapponi, Dr. 214 

Macaulay 284 

Magnet in surgery 178 

Mail and Express 266 

MaisonDieu 260 

Malpighi 18. 86. 96. 119. 217. 240 

Blalgaigne 182, 194 

Malingerers 273 

Mantegna 112 

Manipulations, surgical 185 

Marguerite of Burgogne 266 

Marie of Burgundy 109 

Mary. Queen 94 

Massa 86 

Massari 246 

Maximilian I. 109 

Medical Library and Hist. Journal 40. 121 

Medical Schools of Rome 222^ 

Medieval scientific books 23^ 

Mental and nervous diseases 863 

Method, deductive 281; inductive 283 

Meyer. Ernest von 132 

Meyer 209 

Michel Angelo 90 

Milan's magnificent hospital 269 

Minerals 135 

Mineralogy 140, 157 

Miracles to medicine 167 ; belief m 191 

Mitchell 405 

Mivart, St. George 394 

Mondino 37 

Monte Cassino 205. 225 

Montpclier. University of 79. 177, 182, 191 

Montagnano 78 

Morgagni 99, 219; forerunner of 83; 

eighth daughter of 222 ; son a Jesuit 

Morgan. Augustus de, on GalOeo 16 
Morley, Henry 291 
Manchen 251 




Napl» 3£fi 

Mature, intorept iq 886 : laws of 887 

NstU]«l phenomena 840; scienoe 840 

Kaudf 206 

Hoduun, Abbot 308 

Nswrk 188 

Newman. Qinlinal. on Galfleo 16 

Newton 306 

NicholaB. Pope 137; IV. 208; V. 218 
KDlhrn^tncHR :n3 
Xovplty 3?J _^ 

Novum Onr«num 284. 293 

Observation, powers of 800 

Obm 282. 408 

Open door 367. 871. 374 

Opponition. ecclesiastical 62 ; popular 62 

OppoBition to the proirreas of science 396 

Opus Tertium 134. 288 ; Majua 292 

Ordures 183 

Ovid 358 

Oxford 324 

Pious Schools. Society of 218 
Pius IV. 236 
Ponrendorf 286 
Poissin 406 
Polypus 86 
Po|j*? Clement 82T 

Fui;>efi encourairijd anatomy and medical 
sciences 113 
iFoJ- i^paratf? Popes atn; names) 
Pope John and education Ul 
Popular isem in scienoe 2SS 
PosiieKsed MH 
Pos-SffiMJcin GM> 
Pota,mian, Brother 307 
Practice uf medJiciDe ^ 
Prayer for mental diseaflcs 376 
PrBToqiutsite for degrree l^ 
President, ogr 143 
Prieatloy 286 
Prince fcCropotkin 330, 34& 
Prime matter 311 
Prospectus of M««lica] School 157 
ProteaUnt tradition 84 
Ptolf?maiii 353 
Psalnia ITO 

Paychoijflthlc wbrIi* 36S 
Public buJMinifi 2i;9 
Puccinotti 6H 7S 

Puschmann 41. 58. 76. 171. 298, 819 
Pythairoraa 351 

Padua 77.83.106; University at 394 

Paarel 171. 177, 190. 819 

Palmist 129 

Papal Medical School 26. 66. 89. 119. 222 

Papal bulls 26; Curia 118; Physicians 

118. 202 
Paracelsus 118, 137 
Pard 174 

P»ria ISa, 158. 19S, 317. 325 
Fanteur 233. 409 
Pat holojry, father of Si 
patron of fitudenta 331 
Patienta acouT^«d 37& 
Paul UL lU, 282 ; IV, 113. 114 
PtttiffrtDui SOT 
PermissioEia to dieaect 51 
Perugia Univeraity H9. 156. 161 
Peruinno 162. 3M3 
PeteUa 207. L'29 
Peter of ChartPes 227 
peter uf Spain 207, 208 
Pharmacolosry 15S 
Ph(;nom«na. psychia 381; occult 881 
PhiJmLeBel IH 
PhilitjII. 217 

Phlloaapher'a atone 1S5* 808 
PhiUwioj^hy encouraircd 22 
Phosphorescence 355 
Phrca*^, John 96 
Phthi^ia ISO 

Physicians, Royal Collbffe of 93 
Physicians, thinking 201; of educated 

people 203 
Physics, treatise on 296 
Physical flreoerraphy 317 
Piccolomini 216. 235 

P icher. Prof., on Mondlno 89. 45. 48. 64. C6 
Pi nrrimafire for insane 876. 876 

Questions, medical 287 

Rabies, treatment for 409 

Ramaay. Sir Wm. aiO 

Raphael 9Q. 162 

Raahdall 73: HUtory of Oui varsities 37 

Katiftbon. Bishop of 324 

Reason for false tradition L'4 

Boed. Major Walter 23*J 

Ri?JormaLicin. eo^calk-d 166w 190 

Reform of philoBophizins 293 

Re^iuji profcasom !i^ 

Belifficnja care far the Rick 2^ 

RefTiilation of medicsal practice 66 

Renaissance 80 

Renais.'Ukrice of aeience 91 

Rei+qrrcctitJn of 91 

Richard the Englishman 206 

Hicardua AnslicuB aos 

Ri carpus Pane^jensia 206 

Richet 383 

Roger 170. 192 

Rome 325; Roman University 164 

Rosarium 132 

Rostock. University of 155 

Roth 70. 76 

Rovere. Cardinal DeUa 14 

Ruskin 342 


Saintsbury 808 

Saladin 261 

Salermo 66 ; history of 130 


TBS pona 


Sftni early m 371 
SApienza 2LS 
Sarti CT 
Schacht 137 
Schdt 1S7 

Schdlo^ticbm 302, 308 
Scholars hip, urrjfound 239 
Schooi slr&et in OxfonJ 362 
Scicnc**, Meiikval 301. 335 
Science in mcidern universities SM; ' 
icul 120 J 

Sck^ntia Experimentalis 292 

Scirrhtiis &5 [ 

SeilT^^ratjOfi. Itproey 27fi j 

SemTndw«i»a 4(T7 

SfTVt»tua 393, am 400 

Shrines 37h=1 

£icilie,4, d inflection in 63 

Bieno, atory of 270 

Sis hart 317 

Stmon Januen^k 208 

Scotua* Michael K0 

Sir Wm, Crookest 3M2 

Sister of Holy Ghast 

Skekton of felon 101 

Sketetond 10^ 

Snako. bite of ISl 

Social osttTAciam lit! 

Sociolosry 412 

&niUiFo1e St6 

Spc^man, Bli^ 259 ' 

ElMOUlifin Natumle 334 

Sphericity of the csarth 316 

Spirit interfnrence 3S& j 

KtJtHtiiit 12^ 

Spiritual tnanli^UtloTUt ^1 

Sltiritual tDterfcrence 366 

Spiritual interference in human Ufo M 

Sptrltual world 380 

StK'nfJflnt pariter 122 

St^ A n t hon V 'a fire ^72 

St BartholDmew"£i 255 

St, Catherine of Siepa 272 

SL Charles Seminai^ 146 

St,C6me im 

St* Dympna S7ft 

SLFmneia 162. 328 

St, Francis's fire 27fi 

St. Gallen 251 

St, Thnmi^'a Htwpita] 2fi6 

St. Victor £05 

Sta^trite 202 

Stars, HhofitinjT ^51 : dxed 3^ 

SteinsehTiekJer 209 

Steno m 400 

atensen 96 

Stenoiti^ SS 

Stone, ph tlotiQplier'i 12S 

Strangury 180 

Stra^Hburs' 72 

Stmetural work 330 

Students clerics 339; of medidiie 167 

Sturdy v^i^mnta 274 

Sudden Lteath 242 

Sm^veKtionH. Htronff 376 

SummA Theoloiriie 2!W1 

Suptf niiuB Bpeenla 128 

SuperPtiti-kn 184 

SnpeHtctihliiy ot ^nr eduealion 21 

Taxm US 

TentH 183 

Temporal pDwer 65 

T«twlllwi 112 

ThjOddeua 206 

Th«ob«|d v., Kins 335 

Thvodortc ISS 

Theoloificaldifiecnjraxement 181 

Th«oI<xricjJil oppositiun 167 

ThedphaBtun 319 

Thirteenth Greatent of C«Fitiiritt 33 

Thomadof drntimr^rtto 33a 

Thronibofiiaof theme^ntericveiii fli 

Thutei 315 

Thoffjson 132. 13&. 40(5 

To[eri»nce for e4:ientiflc inveatlntiotj 

Tbomiwutti 143 

Tboth, dewlnun^a 1G7, 183 

T6ply B«, fl7; v^o 41 

ToEKi 2m 240 

Traditionti, ti|qod-ffl*nnK 128 

Tramp 274 

T^nKimutation of ntelala 900 

Trephining IBS 

Trent, Council of 201 

Trithemiufi 137 

Tmwbridife M3 

Tubercula'^i!!, crusade a^cminat 27S 

Turner 86, 11 fv 246v 304 

Twelvei, CoUego of* Phy«icluia 211 

Tycho-finhe 360 

Tl^ndAll 23a 


Olcera, careinantatoofi 188 

tftnfarian Sehool 162 

Univemity curriculuji. medieval 801, 

Univirq^Ry bookji 3(M; teaehioff 829 

University, Pain] lb 

University of the City of Room 228 

Urbui VL 2U 

Valentine 186 
Valsalva 99^ 194 
VanSwieten 241 
VaroliuB 217 
Vatican 88 
Veeehetta 271 
Venice 72, 88. 106 
Veroechio 112 
Verona 174 



Vcniins 85^ 61, 100; ffrMt«nuidfath«r 
10b; inquisitive 101; anceBtry 109; 
father 110; aa conaultant 112; life 
of 116, 216 

Vibrationa in the ether 884 

Vienna Medical School 241 

ViUani 846 

Villanova, Arnold of 210 

Vincent of Beauvaia 834 

Virchow 261, 256 

Vinril 407 

Visitor's fees. Bedlam 873 

Vitry 806 


Wallace, Alfred Russell 386 
Walsh 144 

Wards, cheerless, white 268 
Ward for puychic cases 887 
Warfare. Theology, Science 29 
Weismann 898 

Wenael, Emperor 168 

Whewell 298 

White. Andrew D. 29; on dissection 49; 

universal prohibition 20i lUS, 122. 128^ 

180, 171. 199. 869 
WflliamofSalicet 68. 79 
Workmen of Lyons 826 
Worid, immaterial 8Su 
Wun 174 

Tounff, Dr. Thomas 404 
Yperman 178 
Ypres 178 

Zerbi 106 
Zoolofnr 168 
Zurich 261