He possibly saved Clement's life during the spread of the Black Death, when he advised the pope to stay near blazing fires. Although many physicians fled Avignon at the arrival of the Plague, Chauliac stayed to study the disease and treat people. He determined that it was contagious, but couldn't figure out the method of contagion. Still, he advised bloodletting, a healthy diet, and exposure to pure air (hence the fires, which would have serendipitously served to keep fleas away). He also realized that there were two diseases involved because of different sets of symptoms: the initial Bubonic Plague, and the follow-up Pneumonic Plague which found its foothold in the weakened population and killed much more swiftly. Chauliac spoke out strongly against those who blamed the Jews for the Plague, explaining that scientifically it made no sense to consider them at fault.
|Tools for withdrawing an arrow.|
Chauliac was not always accurate. He believed, for instance, that pus was an important part of the healing process and should be left alone. Nevertheless, his Chirurgia became a standard text for the next three centuries, translated into several European languages. Unfortunately for future generations, anti-Islam sentiment caused many translators to leave out knowledge from Islamic scholars, resulting in a less complete and less accurate work. Still, he has been labeled the "Father of Modern Surgery," and his great work was the standard text until the 17th century.