A Famous and Flourishing Society

A Famous and Flourishing Society: The History of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 1505-2005

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    A Famous and Flourishing Society
    Book Description:

    This book charts the progress of the Royal College of Surgeons through 500 years of change, both in the College itself and in the external local, national and international contexts.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7920-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of subscribers
    (pp. v-xii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations and conventions
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. List of illustrations
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  7. List of tables
    (pp. xx-xx)
  8. Foreword by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Patron of the College
    (pp. xxi-xxii)

    The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh received its Seal Cause from the Town Council in July 1505, which was then ratified by James IV in October 1506. This makes it one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world and the reason for its quincentenary celebrations. It is also the reason for this comprehensive history of the College. Its status as a `Famous and Flourishing Society' was confirmed by the granting of a Royal Charter in 1778.

    The Seal of Cause was a far-sighted document, and the Fellows continue to share the ideals and follow the aims of the...

  9. Foreword by Mr John Smith, College President
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)

    ‘Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Those words written by the American philosopher George Santayana around the turn of the century are as true now as they were then.

    The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has adapted well to change throughout its long and distinguished history, and has been innovative in many aspects of surgical education, training and assessment. Throughout its 500 years, the College has been instrumental in maintaining and developing standards of surgical training and assessment. The visionary philosophy of the 1505 Seal...

  10. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In June 1671 the Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers of Edinburgh decided to start awarding honorary freedoms to individuals of note, primarily of political and social note, who could help to boost the reputation of the Incorporation and assist it in political struggles. The minute of that decision describes the Incorporation as ‘famous and flourishing’, hence the title of this history.² From its first days in medieval Edinburgh the Incorporation sought incessantly to shed its craft image and become a ‘learned society’.

    The writing of the history of any institution has considerable inherent dangers. There is clearly a need to...

  11. 2 Origins and early years, 1505–1581
    (pp. 11-28)

    The early history of the Incorporation needs to be traced deep in latemedieval Scotland. By the start of the sixteenth century the boundaries of the nation had been established, more or less; the Stewart dynasty had a fairly secure grip on the throne, despite the fact that few of the incumbents managed to die in their beds; trading and cultural contacts with mainland Europe were well established; burghs were growing in size and importance, particularly the Royal Burghs and even more particularly Edinburgh; the highlands continued to be a thorn in the side of Scottish kings (though highland culture was...

  12. 3 Consolidation and organisation, 1581–1726
    (pp. 29-82)

    This chapter deals with a turbulent century in the history of Scotland, one that was significant in terms of the consolidation and development of the Incorporation and its organisation and functions. After 1680 the Incorporation would be much more heavily involved in dealing with external disputes and influences. By 1726 the early crises of numbers were over, though not entirely so, and the Incorporation participated more fully in outside matters. Quarrels about jurisdiction and demarcation were certainly not over, but by that time it was a strong force in Edinburgh society.

    The seventeenth century was one of conflict for the...

  13. 4 Enlightenment to Reform, Incorporation to College, 1726–c. 1830
    (pp. 83-142)

    By the time of the foundation of the Edinburgh Medical School in 1726, the nation had changed just as much as had Edinburgh or any of its institutions. The Union of Parliaments of 1707 meant that Scotland was more firmly attached to her southern neighbour than ever, though it can be claimed with some justification that full incorporating union did not really take place, as Scotland retained separate and distinctive legal, religious and educational arrangements. There is no doubt, though, that the outlook and focus of Scotland had changed a great deal from the heady days of the Renaissance, when...

  14. 5 The College in transition: medical reform to NHS, c. 1830–1948
    (pp. 143-212)

    The nineteenth century was a period of considerable change in Scotland. The rise of the large cities, particularly Glasgow, and the ongoing changes in the demographic map meant that medicine and its organisation had to change also. Large populations required large hospitals; large hospitals required better organisation and staffing. College Fellows were involved as practising surgeons and as members of hospital boards, government bodies and other supervisory and policy-making organisations. This was the heyday of Empire, and Edinburgh-trained surgeons took their skills to all parts of the world. Scotland was the industrial capital of the world and wielded industrial machinery...

  15. 6 Five hundred years on – technology, global communication and new horizons, 1948–2005
    (pp. 213-266)

    The last half-century of the first 500 years of the life of the College has seen considerable change in the nation itself as well as in the College’s own development. The political countenance of Scotland in the 1930s and early 1940s had been very similar to that of the United Kingdom as a whole and during the early part of the century, a number of government functions were devolved to Scotland, so that there was some semblance of independent government, if not in reality. The landslide Labour victory in the 1945 general election ushered in significant change, and by the...

  16. 7 The College buildings: symbols of a Famous and Flourishing Society
    (pp. 267-288)

    During its lifetime the College has occupied a number of rented and purposebuilt premises. It was important to have a specific location for meetings, not least for the visual symbolism which this would convey, both to members of the College itself and to the community in general. This sort of symbolism is important nowadays, but in earlier times was even more so. This chapter will assess the various buildings inhabited by the College over the years, their symbolism and adaptation to changing circumstances.

    The early-modern period was visual, in all aspects. Symbolism was not confined to the portrayal of kings...

  17. 8 Conclusion: the College – past, present and future
    (pp. 289-294)

    The College has been shaped by many forces and influences over its first 500 years. Their manifestation, though, has changed significantly in the light of changing contextual influences. Surgeons and surgery at the start of the next half-millennium are very different, at least on the surface, from what they were in 1505, as are the City of Edinburgh, the Scottish nation, Great Britain and the world. It is possible, though, to trace common elements throughout this lengthy and often turbulent period. This is not to take a Whiggish approach to the explanation of the historical process. Nor is it to...

  18. Appendix I Text of Seal of Cause, 1505
    (pp. 295-298)
  19. Appendix II Text of Ratification of Seal of Cause by James IV, 1506
    (pp. 299-300)
  20. Appendix III List of Deacons/Presidents
    (pp. 301-304)
  21. Appendix IV Chronology
    (pp. 305-312)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-326)
  23. Index of names
    (pp. 327-329)
  24. General index
    (pp. 330-336)
  25. Plates
    (pp. 337-352)