Reassessing frontline medical practitioners of the British Civil Wars in the context of the seventeenth-century British Civil Wars
journal contributionposted on 09.04.2018, 09:00 by Ismini Pells
Medical provision in Civil War armies has generally suffered a poor reputation. Medical matters have been excluded from assessments of how far Civil War armies confirm evidence of the so-called ‘Military Revolution’, whilst Harold Cook argued that it was not until after the Glorious Revolution that the medical infrastructure of the armed forces was brought in line with continental practices, particularly those of the Dutch army. Despite the recent rehabilitation of early modern practitioners elsewhere, frontline military practitioners continue to be dismissed as uneducated, unskilful and incompetent. This is largely due to the lack of a fresh perspective since C. H. Firth published Cromwell's Army in 1902. This article argues that the English were well aware of current medical practice in European armies and endeavoured to implement similar procedures during the Civil Wars. Indeed, almost all the developments identified by Cook for the later seventeenth century can be found in Civil War armies. Whilst failures may have occurred, most of these can be attributed to administrative and financial miscarriages, rather than ignorance of contemporary medical developments. Moreover, there is little to suggest that medics mobilized for Civil War armies were any less capable than those who practised civilian medicine in this period.