TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

[Excerpts from the Statuta chirurgicorum Parisiensium et confraternitatis beatorum Cosme et Damiani [Statutes of the Surgeons of Paris and the Confraternity of Saints Cosmas and Damian]

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, likely Paris, later 15th c. and [1575 to mid-17th c.]

TM 175

2 bifolia, on parchment, single quire (probably lacking two first quires), written in brown ink in a clear bâtarde script (ff. 1-1v, 15th c. script), followed by a rather rounded script in darker brown ink (ff. 1v-3v, likely circa 1575), subsequent entries all dated after 1574 till 1655 in a progressively more cursive script, in brown and black ink, text on 2 columns (justification 180 x 140 mm), ruled in red, painted initials in red and blue (in red only in the 16th c. additions beginning f. 1v), rubric on f. 3v, early foliation in upper margin (Roman numerals .x. and .xi. suggesting that the first 9 ff. are lacking), statutes numbered in a later, likely 16th-century hand (from 32 to 39), marginal annotations [mostly obits and a long note, dated 1603 (fol. 3v)], unbound and unsewn, preserved in a elegant fitted case of red chagrin, smooth spine, gilt title "Statuts des Maitres Chirurgiens Jurés et Barbiers de Paris – 1379-1659 [sic]," clear front cover, case lined in silk [case signed "Ateliers Laurenchet"]. Dimensions 270 x 195 mm.

Original, likely oldest traceable document containing the statutes of the surgeons of Paris, as well as the important donation made by the surgeon and benefactor Nicolas Langlois to the College of Surgeons in 1574. This is a very rare document, somewhat of a relic, of a profession that fought hard for official recognition of their know-how. It contains a list of all leading active members of the Confraternity between 1575 and 1655, including the famous Ambroise Paré.


1. Collège [or Communauté] des chirugiens de Paris, Confrérie de saint Côme et saint Damien. The present hand-written Statutes must have figured in the Church or the "House" of St.-Côme, built adjacent to Church of Saint-Côme (corner of rue de la Harpe and former rue des Cordeliers) in 1561, used by the maîtres-jurés for their gatherings and required visits with the poor and sick. The preservation of all documents concerning the Community of Surgeons was defined in the Statutes of 1718, which specifies that the registers are to be kept in St.-Côme in a certain cabinet under lock and three keys, etc: "Les registres de ladite Communauté seront dans une chambre à S. Cosme, à la garde du Greffier du Premier Chirurgien de Sa Majesté, & à l’égard des Titres & Papiers deladite Communauté, il seront mis dans une Armoire particuliere en la maison de S. Cosme, sous trois clefs, dont l’une sera donnée au Premier Chirurgien, ou à son Lieutenant…" (Statuts, 1718, p. 4).


ff. 1-1v, Statuts des chirurgiens de Paris, articles 31 (lacks beginning) to 39: [article 31] "[…] Drouart, Symon Bourgoys, Oudardus de Tricquetot, Johannes de Troyes, Johannes le Grant, In cyrurgia magistri et Parisii residentes…anno domini millesimo tricentesimo septuagesimo nono confirmatum est [1379]"; followed by article numbered 32 in margin [later hand], "Item ordinarunt predicta quod de pecunia ex elemosinis in pixide reposita nulle nisi in divino servicio fiant expense…"; followed by article numbered 33 in margin [later hand], "Item quod nulli clerici nisi et latini elegantes et modesti sunt a magistris in servicium assumendi"; last article copied by the 15th hand, numbered 35: "Item magistri presentes magister videlicet Johannes le Grand magister, Johannes de Troyes cyrurgicus regius et juratus, magister Johannes le Conte cirurgicorum prepositus…Anno domini millesimo tricentesimo nonagesimo sexto die septembris .xxviii.a statuta hec et decreta firma stabilia nec ullo [ ?] quovismodo violabilia seipons observare juramentis solennibus asserverunt" (Paris, Bibliothèque inter-universitaire de médecine [BIUM], MS. 2114, cotte C, articles 31-35, ff. 38-39);

The present two bifolio are all that is left of the original Statuta chirurgicorum Parisiensium et confraternitatis beatorum Cosme et Damiani, that is the Statutes of the Surgeons of Paris and the Confraternity of Saints Côme and Damien (Cosmas and Damian). The surgeons were placed under the protection of Saints Cosmas and Damian, brothers who had practiced in Arabia surgical acts free of charge (and were called "anagyres" saints), in keeping with the Oath of Hippocrates.

The original Statutes of Surgeons for Paris were first submitted to the Prévôt de Paris Etienne Boileau in 1268 and are included in the Livre des métiers (see [E. Boileau], 1879, titre XCVI, "Des Cireurgiens"; see also A. Franklin, 1906, pp. 169-170). The Confraternity of Saints Cosmas and Damian was established earlier in 1255, and is thus one of the oldest recorded professional corporations in France, initially organized by Jean Pitard, Royal surgeon to the kings Saint Louis, Philippe le Hardi and Philippe le Bel (on the origins of the Confraternity and the College des chirurgiens, see Franklin, 1884 and 1893). According to the Académie de médecine, the first extant copy of Statutes for the Confraternity of Saints Cosmas and Damian dates from 1379: "Les premiers statuts retrouvés de cette confrérie datent de 1379, ceux de J. Pitard ne sont pas parvenus jusqu'à nous, mais il en est fait mention… " [see link: http://www.bium.univ-paris5.fr/musee/enseign1.htm]. We have not localized any fourteenth-century copy of these Statutes, and perhaps this only refers to the present fifteenth-century document or its seventeenth-century copy.

Surgery and all acts administered by surgeons and barbers were essentially manual tasks (chirurgia come from the Greek "cheir" for "hand") that involved bloodshed forbidden to common doctors, who were clerics and scholars. The rivalry between doctors and surgeons as well as the downright scorn of the Faculty of Medicine for the Corporation of the Barber-Surgeons caused the surgeons to fight for acceptance and decent teaching conditions. Surgeons finally gained the right to teach publicly in 1576, although this right was constantly called into question by the Faculty of Medicine, the appellation changing constantly from "Communauté" des chirurgiens to "Collège" des chirurgiens and their schools submitted to the Faculty, known as the Ecole de saint-Côme. The famous surgeon Ambroise Paré defended the right of surgeons to teach in decent conditions. Progressively disassociating themselves from the barbers, surgeons were finally given the right to build an elegant amphitheater for courses and dissection in 1691, still standing rue de l’Ecole de médecine in Paris, and finally the Académie royale de chirurgie in 1743.

The present Statutes were recopied in the seventeenth century and included in the following manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque inter-universitaire de médecine [BIUM], MS. 2114, cotte C, fol. 29-44v (see Catalogue général des manuscrits…Paris, 1909, p. 250-251). The BIUM manuscript contains the papers gathered and copied by Hieronimus Delanoue, with the contents of cotte C : "Il y a plusieurs escriptz de ma main et d’autre touchant nos reglementz et y a un commentaire sur les statutz dudit college et plusieurs arrestz tant de la Cour du Grand Conseil…." Hieronimus or Jérôme Delanoue is the surgeon who co-signed in 1603 the long note in the margin of the present manuscript (f. 3v). The seventeenth-century copy of the original Statutes in Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C begins : "Oratio sanctorum Cosme et Damiani…Sequuntur statuta chirurgicorum Parisiensium et confraternitatis beatorum Cosme et Damiani" (Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C, f. 29). Our article 31 should thus begin: "Statuta hec per honorandum quondam bone memorie defunctum Magistrum Johannem Pitart et non paucos in chirurgia magistros anno domini millesimo ducentesimo sexagesimo…" (Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C, f. 38).

Towards the end of the seventeenth-century copy of the Statutes, the following inscription was added: "Collationné sur le livre et volume desdits statutz par moy Conseiller Notaire Secretaire du Roy et de ses finances [signed] Bouëe". The notary who copied the Statutes for Hieronymus Delanoue must have had access to the present document to establish his copy.

ff. 1v-2, First Donation, offered by Nicolas Langlois (Maistre Chirurgien) to the Collège des chirurgiens of Paris, incipit, "Vir insigni pietate pariter ac eruditione spectatus d[omini] Nicolaus Langlois in chirurgia magister Regio chirurgorum Parisiensum collegio dedit constituitque annuum perpetuumque proventum unius et triginta librarum cum quatuordecima solidis et denariis sex turonensis…" (Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C, article 36, ff. 40-40v);

ff. 2-3, Second Donation, offered by Nicolas Langlois (Maistre Chirurgien) to the Collège des chirurgiens of Paris, incipit, "Idem D[omini] Langlois simili pietate et charitate motus leguit predicto Collegio…" (Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C, article 37, ff. 40v-42v);

Original Latin versions of both financial donations, to be copied at the end of the Statuts des chirurgiens, according to the condition set by the benefactor Nicolas Langlois: "[VIII] Fera ledit Sieur Prevost inserer les susdites Donations tant au livre des Statuts dudit College, qu’au registre des actes d’iceluy" (Extrait…, 1660, p. 6). In our manuscript, the same provision is formulated in Latin : "[…] denique omnia et singula superius legata et instituta bene sigillatim et expresse, additis in hunc finem articulis libro statutorum scholae inscribentur […]" (f. 3).

These donations composed in Latin were translated and printed in French in Extraits des deux donations faites au College & Faculté des Chirurgiens de Paris, par Maistre Nicolas Langlois Docteur Juré en ladite Faculté, avec les charges & conditions à ce requises (dated 1660), with the following declaration : "[…] il a semblé bon au Collège & Faculté de Messieurs les Chirurgiens de Paris, faire entendre à tous presens & avenir, que venerable & scientifique personnage Maistre Nicolas Langlois, l’un desdits chirurgiens, meu de devotion & charité envers les pauvres, & de singuliere afffection envers ledit College & Faculté, luy a conferé, & fait donation à deux diverses fois des rentes cy-après declarées" (Extrait…, 1660, p. 3).

ff. 3-4, List of surgeons, members of the Confraternity of Saints Comas and Damian, who confirmed the donations made by Nicolas Langlois and swore to respect the preceding Statutes [followed by successive surgeons recorded in the Statutes till at least 1655], incipit, "Quaequidem omnia prout superius exposita fuere consenserunt, statuerunt et iurarunt omnes et singuli in Chirurgia magister et rectores quorum nomina sequuntur"; followed by rubric, Nomina chirurgorum Parisiensium; incipit, "Magister Johannes Le Gay, doctor medicus et chirugus / M. Robertus Gaignart / M. Nicolaus Langlois / M. Franciscus Desneux / M. Guilielmus Du Boys, chirurgus regius / M. Ludovicus Le Brun / M. Ambrosius Pare, primus Chirurgius regius / M. Johannes d’Amboise, chirurgus regius et pro rege in Casteleto juratus…" ; explicit, "[…] M. Stephanus Boison [obiit] / M. Mattheus Berteveau / M. Petrus Mattor / M. Petrus Touvenot" (Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C, ff. 42v-44);

The "maistres-jurés" en chirurgie, members of the Confraternity of Saints Cosmas and Damian had their names apposed at the end of the document. Amongst the original signatories one finds the famous barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590), here referred to as "primus chirurgus regius" (first royal surgeon) who was sworn in as a member of the Collège de Saint-Côme in 1554. His practical experience in surgery and dissection earned him great fame and honor, although he himself was largely self-taught and "uneducated." Indeed, his admission to the Confraternity constituted an exception to the rule as he was not well-versed in Latin as article 33 prescribed. His motto, as inscribed above his chair in the Collège de Saint-Cosme, read: "Je le pansay et Dieu le guarist" ("I treated him, but God healed him"). Other famous surgeons listed include Jean d’Amboise (chirurgien ordinaire du roi et juré au Châtelet de Paris) and Jérôme Delanoue (fol. 3v). This list is precious in that it provides us a contemporary snap-shot of the important surgeons of the time, with their function as "prévôt" of the College (praepositus) in certain cases.

Part of this list of "maistres-jurés chirurgiens" is reproduced in Extraits des deux donations faites au College & Faculté des Chirurgiens de Paris, par Maistre Nicolas Langlois Docteur Juré en ladite Faculté, avec les charges & conditions à ce requises, translated in French: "Ensuivent les noms des chirurgiens qui ont accepté les donations dessusdites, aux charges et conditions mentionnées, selon leur ordre de reception audit Collège & Faculté de Chirurgie" (Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Académie de médicine, Statuts, Reglemens et arrests des chirurgiens, a commencer de l’année 1505 jusqu’en 1710, shelfmark 35314, article 3 (dated 1660), p. 8 (ends with M. Estienne Binet, whereas the manuscript pursues the list until the later date of at least 1655). The copy made in the seventeenth century for Hieronymus Delanoue ends its list of names at "M. Petrus Corbilly" (top of the second column in our document, f. 4) and copies also the long marginal inscription found on f. 3v: "Et a costé et au dessubz dudict cathalogue est escript: Nos Hieronymus Delanoue et Ludovicus Hubert, Do. et M. in Chirurgia…" (Paris, BIUM, MS. 2114, cotte C, ff. 42v-44). Our original document pursues the list a bit further in time, a sign that the document was still in use, with the dates 1646, 1653 and 1655 copied in the margin of the second column, f. 4.

f. 4v, blank.


[Boileau, Etienne]. Les métiers et corporations de la ville de Paris. XIIIe siècle. Le livre des métiers d’Etienne Boileau, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1879.

Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Paris, Tome Ier… Faculté de médecine – Académie de Médecine – Ecole supérieure de pharmarcie, Paris, Plon-Nourrit, 1909 [CGM].

Corlieu, A. L’enseignement au Collège de chirurgie depuis son origine jusqu’à la Révolution francaise, Paris, 1890.

Dauchez, H. Notice sur l’ancienne corporation des chirurgiens, dite Conférie de Saint-Côme, Paris, E. Lechevalier, 1885.

[Exhibition catalogue]. Le corps blessé. Quatre siècles de chirurgie, Paris, Musée d’histoire de la médecine. Académie de chirurgie, 1996.

Extraits des deux donations faites au College & Faculté des Chirurgiens de Paris, par Maistre Nicolas Langlois Docteur Juré en ladite Faculté, avec les charges & conditions à ce requises, S.l., 1660 [bound in Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Académie de médecine, cote 35314, article 3].

Franklin, Alfred. Les corporations ouvrières de Paris du XIIe au XVIIIe siècle: histoire, statuts, armoiries d’après des documents originaux ou inédits, Barbiers-chirurgiens, Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1884.

Franklin, Alfred. Les chirurgiens [La vie privée d’autrefois], Paris, Plon, 1893.

Franklin, Alfred. Dictionnaire historique des arts, métiers et professions exercés dans Paris depuis le treizième siècle, Paris, 1906.

La Confrérie des bienheureux martyrs saint Côme et saint Damien, fondée par les Très-Chrétiens rois de France, dès l’année mil deux cent-vingt-six, ès-églises dédiées à Dieu, sous les noms desdits martyrs, tant à Paris, rue de la Harpe, qu’en l’église de Saint-Côme de Luzarches, S.l.n.d. [Paris, BnF, D-1461].

Quesnay, F. Recherches critiques et historiques sur l’origine, sur les divers états et sur les progrès de la chirurgie en France, Paris, C. Osmont, 1744.

Statuts, privileges et ordonnances royales, accordez et octroyez par les Roys à leur premier Barbier, ses lieutenans ou commis, & autres Barbiers Chirurgiens du Royaume de France, A Paris, Julien Jacquin, 1668.

Statuts pour la pour la communauté des Maitres Chirurgiens Jurez de Paris, A Paris, Chez la Veuve de P. & Louis Colin, 1701 [bound in Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Académie de médecine, shelfmark 35314]

Statuts pour la communauté des Maitres Chirurgiens Jurez de Paris, A Paris, Chez Barthelemy Laisnel, 1718 [Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Académie de médecine, shelfmark 35970]

Statuts, privilèges et règlemens du College des Chirurgie de la ville de Paris, A Paris, Chez Charles Osmont, 1743.

Online resources

Bibliothèque inter-universitaire de médecine (BIUM)

Bibliothèque de l’Académie de médecine

Académie nationale de chirurgie (France)

Bibliothèque inter-universitaire de médecine (BIUM)