©Wellcome Library, London

The most gruesome operation performed by Paré and his contemporaries was undoubtedly amputation of a limb. Surgeons were advised to take up their knives with a steddy hand and good speed'. It was no less a dreaded experience for the patient. Fabricius (c. 1533-1619), an Italian contemporary of Paré, told it how it was for many 16th century surgeons: I was about to cut off the thigh of a man of 40 yeares of age, and ready to use the saw, and Cauteries. For the sick man no sooner began to roare out, but all ranne away, except only my eldest Sonne, who was then but little, and to whom I had committed the holding of his thigh ... and but that my wife then great with child, came running out of the next chamber, and clapt hold of the Patient's Thorax, both he and myselfe had been in extreme danger'.

Source: Hildanus Gulielmus Fabricus (1560-1634). Opera quae extant omnia ... J Beyer, Frankfort 1646.