Theory and Practice from the Medieval to the Modern
Elisabeth Belmas Patient Care at the Hôtel Royal des Invalides, Paris 1670-1791
Elisabeth Belmas Patient Care at the Hôtel Royal des Invalides, Paris, 1670–1791 The Paris hospital Hôtel Royal des Invalides, for the ‘old soldiers’ and those maimed in wars is one of the most famous foundations of the reign of Louis XIV [1643–1715], one of the few that he was proud of to the end of his life. While satisfying his glory, the king did charitable work and asserted his power in two areas that still partly escaped the French monar- chy: assistance and health. Founded in the hamlet of Gros Caillou in the plain of Grenelle, still a rural area in the seventeenth century but becoming rapidly urbanized in the eighteenth, the first phase of the Hôtel Royal des Invalides was built in just three years from 1670, and took its first disabled soldiers in October 1674. It was finally completed in 1691, shortly before the death of Louvois, the Secretary of State for War, who had watched the progress of the work and gave status to the institution by becoming the first deputy director.1 Before then, the fate of the soldiers too old or disabled for service was generally left to private charity. They were sometimes accommodated in hospitals such as those in Dover, Southampton and Hull in England in the sixteenth century, sometimes in convents, occasionally with the help of the state, as in France from the reign of Louis XI, or as in Sweden at the St Bridget Convent of Vadstena created...
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