Visualising Bloodletting Knowledge in Early Modern England

Series Convenors: Dr Alex Aylward, Professor Erica Charters, Professor Mark Harrison, Dr Catherine M Jackson, Dr Sloan Mahone


leong visualising bloodletting

Thomas Geminus, A table instructive whan and how a man coningly let bloud.., Image courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Shelfmark: Newb.4417(2)


Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Dr Elaine Leong (UCL)

Visualising Bloodletting Knowledge in Early Modern England

Early modern London booksellers’ shelves were well stocked with a range of surgical print from anatomical treatises to general surgical manuals purporting to present the ‘whole art’ or ‘prooved practise’ of surgery.  These offered instruction in a range of areas from anatomy to wound treatment to the use of instruments to recipes for drugs. The formation of the Company of Barber and Surgeons in 1540 coincided with a rapid period of development in vernacular instructional print and an active production period for practical surgical manuals. A homegrown push to create materials for the teaching of surgery outside or in addition to traditional master/apprentice training introduced new kinds of printed pedagogical materials. This talk examines two visual objects – Thomas Geminus’ A table instructiue whan and how a man may cõnyngly let bloude (c. 1546) and Edward Edwards’ The analysis of chyrurgery (1637) – to explore how book producers adapted existing visual vocabulary and visualisation devices, usually associated with university learning, to convey practical surgical knowledge.