©Wellcome Library, London

In this illustration from his Book of wound dressing, Hieronymus Brunschwig treats a man with a chest wound. He is accompanied by 2 assistants or relatives of the patient. Growing use of gunpowder-fired artillery often worsened the injuries confronting field surgeons because canonballs and lead shot destroyed more tissue than arrows or swords and left gaping wounds which were susceptible to putrefaction. A British surgeon, Alexander Read, wrote that ‘Man in every age doth devise new instruments of death ... we have in our age, Gun-shot, the imitation of God his thunder; but the example is more fierce, and sendeth more souls to the devil, than the pattern'.

Source: Hieronymus Brunschwig (1450-1551). Die hantwirkung der Wund-Artzney. Gruninger, Strassburg 1497.