Reassessing frontline medical practitioners of the British civil wars in the context of the seventeenth-century medical world
Cambridge University Press (CUP)
© Cambridge University Press 2018 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Medical provision in Civil War armies has generally suffered a poor reputation. Medical matters have been excluded from assessments of how far Civil War armies confirm evidence of the so-called ‘Military Revolution’, whilst Harold Cook argued that it was not until after the Glorious Revolution that the medical infrastructure of the armed forces was brought in line with continental practices, particularly those of the Dutch army. Despite the recent rehabilitation of early modern practitioners elsewhere, frontline military practitioners continue to be dismissed as uneducated, unskilful and incompetent. This is largely due to the lack of a fresh perspective since C. H. Firth published Cromwell's Army in 1902. This article argues that the English were well aware of current medical practice in European armies and endeavoured to implement similar procedures during the Civil Wars. Indeed, almost all the developments identified by Cook for the later seventeenth century can be found in Civil War armies. Whilst failures may have occurred, most of these can be attributed to administrative and financial miscarriages, rather than ignorance of contemporary medical developments. Moreover, there is little to suggest that medics mobilized for Civil War armies were any less capable than those who practised civilian medicine in this period.
This article draws on research undertaken whilst a postdoctoral research associate on the Wellcome Trust-funded project ‘The Medical World of Early Modern England, Wales and Ireland, c. 1500–1715’ at the University of Exeter (grant reference number 097782/Z/11/Z).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Cambridge University Press via the DOI in this record
Published online 18 June 2018
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © Cambridge University Press 2018 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.