The evidence from Civil War Petitions.

Dr. Ismini Pells , Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 7:00pm, on ZOOM

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In the popular imagination, early modern medicine has not enjoyed a favourable reputation, although scholarship on the English Civil Wars has begun to rescue the medical staff who served during the conflict from their reputation as bungling and dangerous amateurs recruited from the lowest echelons of a primitive profession. The publications of leading Civil War practitioners have been analysed and shown to contain forward-thinking and scientific practices that remained in place with only modest refinements for centuries afterwards. Nevertheless, it remains unclear how far such celebrity cases were representative of widespread practice and how far the medical care administered under Civil War systems lived up to contemporary expectations. However, the Civil War Petitions project has been gathering documents submitted by maimed soldiers who claimed war pensions from the state, which provide crucial testimonies from those who actually survived the fighting. These reveal evidence surrounding the types of wounds received by Civil War soldiers, the treatment they received and how this impacted upon their return to civilian life. Using the material gathered by the Civil War Petitions project, this talk will bring to light the treatments described in these documents and compare these to the expectations of contemporary military medical authors from both Britain and mainland Europe to ascertain how far widespread practice correlated to published theory.