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Ambroise Paré and his times, 1510-1590 online

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to lodge my own and my man's horse, and found
four dead soldiers, and three propped against the
wall, their features all changed, and they neither
saw, heard, nor spake, and their clothes were still
smouldering where the gunpowder had burned them.
As I was looking at them with pity, there came an
old soldier who asked me if there were any way to
cure them. I said no. And then he went up to them



32 Ambrolse Par^



and cut their throats, gently, and without ill will to-
ward them. Seeing this great cruelty, I told him he
was a villain : he answered he prayed God, when he
should be in such a plight, he might find someone to
do the same for him, that he should not linger in
misery.

To come back to my story, the enemy were called
on to surrender, which they did, and left the city
with only their lives saved, and the white stick in
their hands ; and most of them went off to the
Chateau de Villane, where about two hundred Span-
iards were stationed. M. the Constable would not
leave these behind him, wishing to clear the road
for our own men. The castle is seated on a small
hill ; which gave great confidence to those within,
that we could not bring our artillery to bear upon
them. They were summoned to surrender, or they
v/ould be cut in pieces : they answered that they
would not, saying they were as good and faithful
servants of the Emperor, as M. the Constable could
be of the King his master.* Thereupon our men by
night hoisted up two great cannons, with the help of
the Swiss soldiers and the lansquenets ; but as ill
luck would have it, when the cannons were in
position, a gunner stupidly set fire to a bag full of
gunpowder, whereby he was burned, with ten or
* Brave response de soldats. — A. P.



"Journeys in Diverse Places"



twelve soldiers ; and the flame of the powder dis-
covered our artillery, so that all night long those
within the castle fired their arquebuses at the place
where they had caught sight of the cannons, and
many of our men were killed and wounded. Next
day, early in the morning, the attack was begun, and
we soon made a breach in their wall. Then they de-
manded a parley : but it was too late, for meanwhile
our French infantry, seeing them taken by surprise,
mounted the breach, and cut them all in pieces, save
one very fair young girl of Piedmont, whom a great
seigneur would have. . . . The captain and the
ensign were taken alive, but soon afterward hanged
and strangled on the battlements of the gate of the
city, to give example and fear to the Emperor's sol-
diers, not to be so rash and mad as to wish to hold
such places against so great an army. *

The soldiers within the castle, seeing our men
come on them with great fury, did all they could to
defend themselves, and killed and wounded many of
our soldiers with pikes, arquebuses, and stones,
whereby the surgeons had all their work cut out for
them. Now I was at this time a fresh-water soldier ;
I had not yet seen v/ounds made by gunshot at the
first dressing. It is true I had read in John de Vigo,
first book, Of Wounds in General, eighth chapter,

*Punition exemplaire. — A. P,



34 Ambroise Par^



that wounds made by firearms partake of venenosity,
by reason of the powder ; and for their cure he bids
you cauterise them with oil of elders scalding hot,
mixed with a little treacle. And to make no mis-
take, before I would use the said oil, knowing this
was to bring great pain to the patient, I asked first
before I applied it, what the other surgeons did for
the first dressing ; which was to put the said oil,
boiling well, into the wounds, with tents and setons ;
wherefore I took courage to do as they did. * At
last my oil ran short, and I was forced instead thereof
to apply a digestive made of the yolks of eggs, oil of
roses, and turpentine. In the night I could not sleep
in quiet, fearing some default in not cauterising, that
I should find the wounded to whom I had not used
the said oil dead from the poison of their wounds ;
which made me rise very early to visit them, where
beyond my expectation I found that those to whom
I had applied my digestive medicament had but
little pain, and their wounds without inflammation
or swelling, having rested fairly well that night ; the
others, to whom the boiling oil was used, I found
feverish, with great pain and swelling about the
edges of their wounds. Then I resolved never more
to burn thus cruelly poor men with gunshot wounds.
While I was at Turin, I found a surgeon famed
♦Experience rend I'homine hardy. — A. P.



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 35



above all others for his treatment of gunshot wounds ;
into whose favour I found means to insinuate my-
self, to have the recipe of his balm, as he called it,
wherewith he dressed gunshot wounds. And he
made me pay my court to him for two years, before
I could possibly draw the recipe from him. In the
end, thanks to my gifts and presents, he gave it to
me ; which was to boil, in oil of lilies, young whelps
just born, and earth-worms prepared with Venetian
turpentine. Then I was joyful, and my heart made
glad, that I had understood his remedy, which was
like that which I had obtained by chance.

See how I learned to treat gunshot wounds ; not
by books.

My Lord Marshal Montejan remained Lieutenant-
General for the King in Piedmont, having ten or
twelve thousand men in garrison in the different
cities and castles, who were often fighting among
themselves with swords and other weapons, even
with arquebuses. And if there were four wounded, I
always had three of them ; and if there were ques-
tion of cutting off an arm or a leg, or of trepanning,
or of reducing a fracture or a dislocation, I accom-
plished it all. The Lord Marshal sent me now here
now there to dress the soldiers committed to me who
were wounded in other cities beside Turin, so that I
was always in the country, one way or the other.



36 Ambroise Pare



M. the Marshal sent to Milan, to a physician
of no less reputation than the late M. le Grand
for his success in practice, to treat him for an hepa-
tic flux, whereof in the end he died. This physi-
cian was some while at Turin to treat him, and
was often called to visit the wounded, where always
he found me ; and I was used to consult with him,
and with some other surgeons ; and when we had
resolved to do any serious work of surgery, it was
Ambroise Pare that put his hand thereto, which I
would do promptly and skilfully, and with great
assurance, insomuch that the physician wondered at
me, to be so ready in the operations of surgery, and
I so young. One day, discoursing with the Lord
Marshal, he said to him * :

" Signor, tu hai un Chirurgico giovane di anni, ma
egli e vecchio di sapere e di esperientia : Guardato
bene, perche egli ti fara servicio et honore." That is
to say, " Thou hast a surgeon young in age, but he is
old in knowledge and experience : take good care of
him, for he will do thee service and honour." But
the good man did not know I had lived three years
at the Hotel Dieu in Paris, with the patients there.

In the end, M. the Marshal died of his hepatic
flux. He being dead, the King sent M. the Marshal
dAnnebaut to be in his place: who did me the

* Tesmoignage de la dexterite de 1' Autheur. — A. P.



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 37



honour to ask me to live with him, and he would
treat me as well or better than M. the Marshal de
Montejan. Which I would not do, for grief at the
loss of my master, who loved me dearly ; so I re-
turned to Paris.

The Journey to Marolle and Low Brittany.

1543-

I went to the Camp of Marolle, with the late M.
de Rohan, as surgeon of his company ; where was
the King himself. M. d'Estampes, Governor of
Brittany, had told the King how the English had
hoist sail to land in Low Brittany ; and had prayed
him to send, to help him, MM. de Rohan and de
Laval, because they were the seigneurs of that
country, and by their help the country people would
beat back the enemy, and keep them from landing.
Having heard this, the King sent these seigneurs to
go in haste to the help of their country ; and to each
was given as much power as to the Governor, so that
they were all three the King's Lieutenants. They
willingly took this charge upon them, and went off
posting with good speed, and took me with them as
far as Landreneau. There we found every one in
arms, the tocsin sounding on every side, for a good
five or six leagues round the harbours, Brest, Cou-
quet, Crozon, le Fou, Doulac, Laudanec ; each well



38 Ambroise Par^



furnished with artillery, as cannons, demi-cannons,
culverins, muskets, falcons, arquebuses ; in brief, all
who came together were well equipped with all sorts
and kinds of artillery, and with many soldiers, both
Breton and French, to hinder the English from
landing as they had resolved at their parting from
England.

The enemy's army came right under our cannons :
and when we perceived them desiring to land, we
saluted them with cannon-shot, and unmasked our
forces and our artillery. They fled to sea again.
I was right glad to see their ships set sail, which
were in good number and good order, and seemed
to be a forest moving upon the sea. I saw a thing
also whereat I marvelled much, which was, that the
balls of the great cannons made long rebounds, and
grazed over the water as they do over the earth.
Now to make the matter short, our English did us
no harm, and returned safe and sound into England.
And they leaving us in peace, we stayed in that
country in garrison until we were assured that their
army was dispersed.

Now our soldiers used often to exercise them-
selves with running at the ring, or with fencing, so
that there was always some one in trouble, and I had
always something to employ me. M. d'Estampes, to
make pastime and pleasure for the Seigneurs de



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 39



Rohan and de Laval, and other gentlemen, got a
number of village girls to come to the sports, to sing
songs in the tongue of Low Brittany : wherein their
harmony was like the croaking of frogs when they
are in love. Moreover, he made them dance the
Brittany triori, without moving feet or hips : he made
the gentlemen see and hear many good things.

At other times they made the wrestlers of the
towns and villages come, where there was a prize
for the best : and the sport was not ended but that
one or other had a leg or arm broken, or the shoulder
or hip dislocated.

There was a little man of Low Brittany, of a square
body and well set, who long held the credit of the
field, and by his skill and strength threw five or six
to the ground. There came against him a big man,
one Dativo, a pedagogue, who was said to be one of
the best wrestlers in all Brittany : he entered into
the lists, having thrown off his long jacket, in hose and
doublet : when he was near the little man, it looked
as though the little man had been tied to his girdle.
Nevertheless, when they gripped each other round
the neck, they were a long time without doing any-
thing, and we thought they would remain equal in
force and skill : but the little man suddenly leaped
beneath this big Dativo, and took him on his shoul-
der, and threw him to earth on his back all



40 Ambrolse Fare



spread out like a frog ; and all the company
laughed at the skill and strength of the little fellow.
The great Dativo was furious to have been thus
thrown to earth by so small a man: he rose again
in a rage, and would have his revenge. They took
hold again round the neck, and were again a good
while at their hold without falling to the ground : but
at last the big man let himself fall upon the little,
and in falling put his elbow upon the pit of his
stomach, and burst his heart, and killed him stark
dead. And knowing he had given him his death's
blow, took again his long cassock, and went away
with his tail between his legs, and eclipsed himself.
Seeing the little man came not again to himself,
either for wine, vinegar, or any other thing presented
to him, I drew near to him and felt his pulse, which
did not beat at all : then I said he was dead. Then
the Bretons, who were assisting at the wrestling, said
aloud in their jargon, " Andraze meuraquet enes rac
un bloa so abeuduex henelep e barz an gouremon
enel ma hoa engoustun." That is to say, " This is
not in the sport." And someone said that this great
Dativo was accustomed to do so, and but a year past
he had done the same at a wrestling. I must needs
open the body to know the cause of this sudden
death. I found much blood in the thorax . . .
I tried to find some internal opening whence it might



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 41



have come, which I could not, for all the diligence
that I could use. * . . , The poor little wrestler
was buried. I took leave of MM. de Rohan, de
Laval, and d'Estampes. M. de Rohan made me a
present of fifty double ducats and a horse, M. de
Laval gave me a nag for my man, and M. d'Estampes
gave me a diamond worth thirty crowns : and I
returned to my house in Paris.

The Journey to Perpignan. 1543.

Some while after, M. de Rohan took me with him
posting to the camp at Perpignan. While we were
there, the enemy sallied out, and surrounded three
pieces of our artillery before they were beaten back
to the gates of the city. Which was not done with-
out many killed and wounded, among the others M.
de Brissac, who was then grand master of the artil-
lery, with an arquebus-shot in the shoulder. When
he retired to his tent, all the wounded followed him,
hoping to be dressed by the surgeons who were to
dress him. Being come to his tent and laid on his
bed, the bullet was searched for by three or four
of the best surgeons in the army, who could not
find it, but said it had entered into his body.

At last he called for me, to see if I could be

* J'eusse bien voulu, mon petit maistre, vous voir pour s9avoir
trouver I'ouverture. — A. P.



42 Ambroise Pare



more skilful than they, because he had known me in
Piedmont. Then I made him rise from his bed, and
told him to put himself in the same posture that he
had when he was wounded,* which he did, taking a
javelin in his hand just as he had held his pike to
fight. I put my hand around the wound, and found
the bullet. . . . Having found it, I showed them
the place where it was, and it was taken out by M.
Nicole Lavernot, surgeon of M. the Dauphin, who
was the King's Lieutenant in that army ; all the same,
the honour of finding it belonged to me.

I saw one very strange thing, which was this : a
soldier in my presence gave one of his fellows a blow
on the head with a halbard, penetrating to the left
ventricle of the brain ; yet the man did not fall to
the ground. He that struck him said he heard that
he had cheated at dice, and he had drawn a large sum
of money from him, and was accustomed to cheat.
They called me to dress him ; which I did, as it were
for the last time, knowing that he would die soon.
When I had dressed him, he returned all alone to his
quarters, which were at the least two hundred paces
away. I bade one of his companions send for a priest
to dispose the affairs of his soul ; he got one for him,
who stayed with him to his last breath. The next day,
the patient sent for me by his girl, dressed in boy's
* Addresse de rAutheur. — A. P.



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 43



apparel, to come and dress him ; which I v/ould not,
fearing he would die under my hands ; and to be rid
of the matter I told her the dressing must not be re-
moved before the third day. But in truth he was sure
to die, though he were never touched again. The third
day, he came staggering to find me in my tent, and
the girl ^vith him, and prayed me most affectionately
to dress him, and showed me a purse wherein might
be an hundred or sixscore pieces of gold, and said
he would give me my heart's desire ; nevertheless,
for all that, I put off the removal of the dressing,
fearing lest he should die then and there. Certain
gentlemen desired me to go and dress him ; which I
did at their request ; but in dressing him he died
under my hands in a convulsion. The priest stayed
with him till death, and seized his purse, for fear an-
other man should take it, saying he would say masses
for his poor soul, x^lso he took his clothes, and
even,'thing else.

I have told this case for the wonder of it, that the
soldier, having received this great blow, did not fall
down, and kept his reason to the end.

Not long afterward, the camp was broken up from
diverse causes : one, because we were told that four
companies of Spaniards were entered into Perpignan :
the other, that the plague was spreading through the
camp. ^Moreover, the country folk warned us there



44 Ambroise Pare



would soon be a great overflowing of the sea, which
might drown us all. And the presage which they
had, was a very great wind from sea, which rose so
high that there remained not a single tent but was
broken and thrown down, for all the care and dili-
gence we could give ; and the kitchens being all un-
covered, the wind raised the dust and sand, which
salted and powdered our meats in such fashion that
we could not eat them ; and we had to cook them in
pots and other covered vessels. Nor was the camp
so quickly moved but that many carts and carters,
mules and mule drivers, were drowned in the sea,
with great loss of baggage.

When the camp was moved I returned to Paris.

The Journey to Landresy. 1544.

The King raised a great army to victual Landresy.
Against him the Emperor had no fewer men, but
many more, to wit, eighteen thousand Germans, ten
thousand Spaniards, six thousand Walloons, ten thou-
sand English, and from thirteen to fourteen thou-
sand horse. I saw the two armies near each other,
within cannon-shot ; and we thought they could not
withdraw without giving battle. There were some
foolish gentlemen who must needs approach the ene-
my's camp ; the enemy fired on them with light field
pieces; some died then and there, others had their



" Journeys In Diverse Places " 45



arms or legs carried away. The King having done
what he wished, which was to victual Landresy, with-
drew his army to Guise, which was the day after All
Saints, 1544; and from there I returned to Paris.

The Journey to Boulogne. 1545.

A little while after, we went to Boulogne ; where
the EngHsh, seeing our army, left the forts which
they were holding, Moulambert, le petit Paradis,
Monplaisir, the fort of Chastillon, le Portet, the fort
of Dardelot. One day, as I was going through the
camp to dress my wounded men, the enemy who
were in the Tour d' Ordre fired a cannon against us,
thinking to kill two men-at-arms who had stopped to
talk together. It happened that the ball passed
quite close to one of them, which threw him to the
ground, and it was thought the ball had touched
him, which it did not ; but only the wind of the ball
full against his corselet, with such force that all the
outer part of his thigh became livid and black, and
he could hardly stand. I dressed him, and made
diverse scarifications to let out the bruised blood
made by the wind of the ball ; and by the rebounds
that it made on the ground it killed four soldiers,
who remained dead where they fell.

I was not far from this shot, so that I could just
feel the moved air, without its doing me any harm



46 Ambroise Pare



save a fright, which made me duck my head low
enough ; but the bail was already far away. The
soldiers laughed at me, to be afraid of a ball which
had already passed. Moji petit fnaistre, I think if
you had been there, I should not have been afraid
all alone, and you would have had your share of it.
Monseigneur the Due de Guise, Frangois de Lor-
raine, was wounded before Boulogne with a thrust
of a lance, which entered above the right eye, toward
the nose, and passed out on the other side between
the ear and the back of the neck, with so great vio-
lence that the head of the lance, with a piece of the
wood, was broken and remained fast ; so that it
could not be drawn out save with extreme force,
with smith's pincers. Yet notwithstanding the
great violence of the blow, which was not without
fracture of bones, nerves, veins, and arteries, and
other parts torn and broken, my lord, by the grace
of God, was healed. He was used to go into battle
always with his vizard raised : that is why the lance
passed right out on the other side.

The Journey to Germany. 1552.

I went to Germany, in the year 1552, with M. de
Rohan, captain of fifty men-at-arms, where I was
surgeon of his company, as I have said before. On
this expedition, M. the Constable was general of the



** Journeys in Diverse Places" 47



army ; M. de Chastillon, afterward the Admiral, was
chief colonel of the infantry, with four regiments of
lansquenets under Captains Recrod and Ringrave,
two under each ; and every regiment was of ten en-
signs, and every ensign of five hundred men. And
beside these were Captain Chartel, who led the
troops that the Protestant princes had sent to the
King (this infantry was very fine, and was accom-
panied by fifteen hundred men-at-arms, with a fol-
lowing of two archers apiece, which would make four
thousand five hundred horse) ; and two thousand
light horse, and as many mounted arquebusiers,
of whom M. d'Aumalle was general ; and a great
number of the nobility, who were come there for
their pleasure. Moreover, the King was accom-
panied by two hundred gentlemen of his household,
under the command of the Seigneurs de Boisy and
de Canappe, and by many other princes. For his
following, to escort him, there were the French and
Scotch and Swiss guards, amounting to six hundred
foot soldiers; and the companies of MM. the Dauphin,
de Guise, d'Aumalle, and Marshal Saint Andre,
amounting to four hundred lances ; which was a
marvellous thing, to see such a multitude ; and with
this equipage the King entered into Toul and Metz.
I must not omit to say that the companies of MM.
de Rohan, the Comte de Sancerre, and de Jarnac,



48 Ambrolse Pare



which were each of them of fifty horse, went upon
the wings of the camp. And God knows how scarce
we were of victuals, and I protest before Him that
at three diverse times I thought to die of hunger ;
and it was not for want of money, for I had enough
of it ; but we could not get victuals save by force,
because the country people collected them all into
the towns and castles.

One of the servants of the captain-ensign of the
company of M. de Rohan went with others to enter
a church where the peasants were retreated, think-
ing to get victuals by love or by force ; but he
got the worst of it, as they all did, and came back
with seven sword-wounds on the head, the least
of which penetrated to the inner table of the skull ;
and he had four other wounds upon the arms, and
one on the right shoulder, which cut more than half
of the blade-bone. He was brought back to his
master's lodging, who seeing him so mutilated, and
not hoping he could be cured, made him a grave,
and would have cast him therein, saying that else
the peasants would massacre and kill him. I in pity*
told him the man might still be cured if he were
well dressed. Diverse gentlemen of the company
prayed he would take him along with the baggage,
since I was willing to dress him ; to which he agreed,
* Charite de I'Autheur.— A. P



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 49



and after I had got the man ready, he was put in a
cart, on a bed well covered and well arranged, drawn
by a horse. I did him the office of physician,
apothecary, surgeon, and cook. I dressed him to
the end of his case, and God healed him ; insomuch
that all the three companies marvelled at this cure.
The men-at-arms of the company of M. de Rohan,
the first muster that was made, gave me each a
crown, and the archers half a crown.

The Journey to Danvilliers. 1552.

On his return from the expedition against the
German camp. King Henry besieged Danvilliers,
and those within would not surrender. They got
the worst of it, but our powder failed us ; so they
had a good shot at our men. There was a cul-
verin-shot passed through the tent of M. de Rohan,
which hit a gentleman's leg who was of his house-
hold. I had to finish the cutting off of it, which I
did without applying the hot irons.

The King sent for powder to Sedan, and when it

came we began the attack more vigorously than

before, so that a breach was made. MM. de Guise

and the Constable, being in the King's chamber, told

him, and they agreed that next day they would

assault the town, and were confident they would enter


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