Prostheses by Ambroise Paré


Prostheses by Ambroise Paré


In 1579 the French surgeon Ambroise Paré published a series of drawings considered by many to be the first true attempts at creating functional prosthetic limbs. While prosthetics in some forms had existed for centuries before Paré’s work, they were very often crude and poorly formed, hooks for arms and pegs in place of legs (Hernigou). Paré however was the first to combine both mechanical engineering with a study of medicine and create a fairly functional, for the time, prosthetic hand. As the royal surgeon to four French kings Paré created innovative medical procedures at a time of difficult political situations for France and many other growing nation states throughout Europe. Like many others in the French government Paré benefited from a powerful absolutist monarch in France, he was given a large level of control over his own research and writings. His other works related to surgery, when and where it was useful, as well as his arguments against performing unnecessary procedures, such as fighting against the previous requirement of castration in order to cure hernias (Hernigou). In many ways Paré is a classic example of the nobles which surrounded the French monarch, both innovative and yet deeply tied to his government. He managed to stay in favor between many monarchs and nearly 30 years, but leveraged his position to perform research, and investigate real battlefield combat that may have been otherwise unattainable to him in any other position (Hernigou).


Ambroise Paré





Jack Williams




Ambroise Paré, “Prostheses by Ambroise Paré,” HIST 139 - Early Modern Europe, accessed May 27, 2024,

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