Medical care in the crusader states benefited from close contact with the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) and the Muslim world, not only with respect to the development of hospitals but also with respect to innovative treatment, licensing and malpractice legislation. Furthermore, contrary to conventional wisdom, the standard of treatment was remarkably sophisticated and included highly complex procedures from hernia and cataract operations to (limited) brain surgery. Perhaps most surprising of all, innovation was not a one-way-street, but in some instances Western medical practitioners were ahead of their Arab and Greek contemporaries. Below is a short summary of highlights I gleaned from Piers D. Mitchell’s seminal work Medicine in the Crusades: Warfare, Wounds and the Medieval Surgeon. Piers D. Mitchell is an osteoarchaeologist.
In the 12 and 13th centuries, the weapons employed produced first and foremost puncture wounds (from arrows, lances and swords), followed by cuts/amputations caused by swords and axes, fractures/crushed bones caused by maces and stones thrown from siege engines, and, last but not least burns from Greek fire, boiling pitch and water. The fundamental treatment for each of these kinds of wounds does not differ significantly from what is recommended today.