How did early surgeons control bleeding? Many of you can guess the answer. For as horrific as it sounds, cautery with hot metal instruments and boiling oil were the methods of choice in the 16th and 17th centuries.
What is less well-known, however, is that the practice was thoroughly critiqued by Ambroise Pare, one of the most prominent French surgeons of the early-modern period.
In his First Discourse Upon Wounds Made by Gunshot (published in English in 1617), Pare experimented with salves as a way to avoid causing his patients the intense pain that comes – understandably – with pouring boiling oil on open wounds.