Ship's Surgeons of the Dutch East India Company
Commerce and the Progress of Medicine in the Eighteenth Century
Distributed for Amsterdam University Press
During the eighteenth century, the surgeons of ships employed by the Dutch East India Company were responsible not only for the health of sailors on board, but also of those in company hospitals throughout a vast geographical empire that extended from South Africa to Japan. Regarded by their contemporaries as little more than illiterate and opportunistic barbers, these early medical practitioners engaged in a complex working life as varied as the geographical terrain they covered.
This volume offers a fascinating exploration of the reality of their profession, drawing on data and firsthand accounts from over 3,000 of the surgeons in the company’s service, and spanning topics as diverse as the recruitment policy of the company, the career trajectory of the surgeons in its employ, their geographical origins, and their life expectancy. Demonstrating that the image of these surgeons as uneducated apprentices is little more than a myth, Iris Bruijn portrays them more appropriately as fairly well-educated men subject to the risks of life at sea, including incurable diseases otherwise unknown in their European homeland.
List of tables, graphs and maps
Introduction: Coping with a black legend
1. The surgeon's tale: The development of surgery
2. The world of the East India Company surgeon
3. The medical service of the Dutch East India Company
4. The geographic origin of the Company's surgeons
5. The career of the Company surgeons
6. 'Great expectations'!
Conclusion: The surgeon's legacy
Appendix 1. Methods, statistical account, graphs and tables
pertaining to chapters 4-6
Appendix 2. Maps
Appendix 3. Notaries used by the Company's surgeons in
Appendix 4. Ship's surgeons who died on board and whose
collection of books is listed
Appendix 5. Ship's surgeons who died on board and were
in the possession of instruments
Archives and Bibliography