Moving boundaries: civic surgeons and medical practice in the eighteenth-century Austrian Low Countries, 1700-1794

Van Bortel, Tine (2007) Moving boundaries: civic surgeons and medical practice in the eighteenth-century Austrian Low Countries, 1700-1794. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This dissertation sought to investigate civic surgeons and medical practice in the eighteenth-century Austrian Low Countries, the area we now know as Belgium and Luxemburg. This field of research has been neglected so far, and little literature has been written for this geographical area, which does not do its history any justice.

During the eighteenth century, the Austrian Low Countries fell under the rule of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, an area which was influenced by the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. This affected also the medical world. Both the national and local governments interfered increasingly into the affairs of the general public, including the practice of medicine. Stricter rules and controls were set in relation to the training and settlement requirements for surgeons. However, the individualism of the cities and provinces made central rule difficult and regulations still varied from city to city.

The relative political, religious, and socio-economic stability enhanced the status of artisans, including surgeons. More surgeons managed to climb up the medical ladder, making them potential influential members of society. Accordingly, the professional medical boundaries between surgeons and physicians were more permeable than in some other places in Europe.

The emancipation of the surgeons was the biggest change in the medical landscape of the eighteenth-century Austrian Low Countries. More surgeons undertook further study, skilled themselves, and researched into medical topics. Particularly midwifery seemed to have been of great concern. Surgeons became actively involved in setting up and teaching practical and theoretical midwifery classes for midwives and surgeons.

In their actual surgical practice, surgeons, unlike physicians, were confronted with grassroots medicine. Particularly in emergency cases, surgeons needed to be creative, sometimes crossing the boundaries of their medical profession in order to help a patient. This inventiveness and their empirical findings were often the basis of change in daily practical medicine, and, consequently, moving its boundaries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the print version is available.
Keywords: medical practice, surgeons, midwifery, obstetrics, public health, cameralism, forensic medicine, eighteenth-century, Enlightenment, Austrian Low Countries, Belgium, Flanders
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Supervisor's Name: Nicolson, Dr. Malcolm
Date of Award: 2007
Depositing User: Dr Tine Van Bortel
Unique ID: glathesis:2007-25
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2007
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2019 11:37

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