If you think undergoing surgery is scary, imagine being a soldier who had to be operated on, on the battlefield during the 16th century. There was no ample understanding and technology yet on how human bodies work and respond to different treatments. Thankfully, a curious and talented barber-surgeon named Ambroise Paré and his scientific approach greatly improved military medicine.

Barber Surgeon

It was with his scientific approach and inquisitive nature that Ambroise Paré managed to improve the condition of battlefield treatment for those wounded soldiers who were in dire need of help at that time when the general approach of people to everything was based on traditions and folklore.

Ambroise Paré was born in 1510 Bourg-Hersent, northwest France. He grew up watching his older brother at work as a barber-surgeon, who seemed to have greatly influenced him. Thus, it was no surprise that Ambroise would later take an apprenticeship under his brother before coming to Hôtel-Dieu de Paris, France’s oldest hospital, for formal training.

As the name suggests, a barber-surgeon was the rather odd combination of two professions: trimming beards and cutting hair, and performing surgical procedures and bloodletting. Doctors did not perform surgery at that time, and it was the barber-surgeons responsibility to do that. Often, they would learn the skills through an apprenticeship with a more experienced colleague, mostly with no formal learning whatsoever. Basically, if one needed tooth extraction, pain reliever medicine, a limb amputation, and a new hairstyle, he could visit a barber-surgeon and get all those from one person.