Medicine and Science in a New Medical-surgical Context: The Royal College of Surgery of Barcelona (1760-1843)

Núria Pérez-Pérez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Taking the Royal College of Barcelona (1760-1843) as a case study, this paper shows the development of modern surgery in Spain initiated by the Bourbon Monarchy when they founded new kinds of institutions as academic activities to spread scientific knowledge. Antoni Gimbernat was the most famous internationally recognised Spanish surgeon. He was trained as a surgeon at the Royal College of Surgery in Cadiz and was later appointed Professor of Anatomy at the College of Barcelona. He then became Royal Surgeon of King Carlos IV, and with that esteemed position in Madrid, he worked relentlessly to improve the quality of the Royal Colleges in Spain. Learning human body structure by performing hands-on dissections in the anatomical theatre has become a fundamental element of modern medical education. Gimbernat favoured the study of natural sciences, the new chemistry of Lavoisier and experimental physics in the academic programmes of surgery. According to the study of a very relevant set of documents preserved in the library, the so-called "juntas literarias", among the main subjects debated in the clinical sessions was the concept of human beings and diseases in relation to the development of the new experimental sciences. These documents showed that chemistry and experimental physics were considered crucial tools to understand the unexplained processes that occurred in the diseased and healthy human body and in a medico-surgical context. It is important to stress that through these manuscripts, we can examine the role and the reception of the new sciences as they were applied to the healing arts. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-48
    JournalMedicine Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


    • Chemistry
    • Enlightenment
    • Experimental physics
    • Royal College of Surgery


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