PARE, Ambroise

PARE, Ambroise
(c. 1510-1590)
Ambroise Pare was a French physician whose exceptional contributions to the medical field have earned him current recognition as one of the fathers of modern surgery. Pare was born around 1510 in the village of Bourg-Hersent, France. After an apprenticeship to a barber-surgeon, he served for three years at the Hotel-Dieu, the Parisian hospital where he acquired much of his practical knowledge. Pare later established a private practice in Paris; he became a master barber-surgeon in 1541 and a member of the College of St. Cosmas in 1554.
For thirty years Pare divided his life between serving in the army in times of war, where he gained extensive experience in military surgery, and caring for the sick of Paris during times of peace. The professional acclaim he earned led him to be chosen as surgeon to four French kings: Henri II, Francois II, Charles IX, and Henri III.
Pare is perhaps best known for rejecting the common practice of cauterizing gunshot wounds with boiling oil. These discoveries were announced in 1545 in his landmark book, The Method for Treating Wounds Made by Harquebusses and Other Firearms, the first surgical publication in the French language. Pare's other contributions include promoting the ligature rather than the cauterization of blood vessels and popularizing various improvements in the treatment of fractures. He devised numerous surgical and orthopedic devices, including ar­tificial limbs, and made significant advancements in the field of obstetrics. He also compiled On Monsters and Marvels, a collection of curiosities and human and animal aberrations.
Pare was essentially a man of practice, trusting experience if his observations were not in accord with contemporary theory. Pare was noted for his humility and dedication, recording his own achievements with modest satisfaction: "I treated him, but God cured him." Pare died in Paris on 2 December 1590.
J. F. Malgaigne, Surgery and Ambroise Pare, trans. from the French and ed. W. B. Hamby, 1965.
A. Pare, On Monsters and Marvels, trans. J. L. Pallister, 1982.
Heather J. Murray

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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