The Dark Ages
In the 7th century, Emperor of Rome, Mauritius (born Maurice) stands out as one of the last emperors whose empire still bore a strong resemblance to the Roman Empire of previous centuries.
It was upon the assassination of him and his sons that led Rome into a civil war that they never recovered from as after his death the spectre of the Muslim giant was expanding across the Middle East, his death was the start of the major infighting amongst the Roman occupied lands.
Mauritius had surgeons and field hospitals all be it a crude form. They also had horsemen who formed a class of ambulance. These men were known as the Desputati or "drink givers”. 85
Pope Leo VI, mentions them also in his “Tactics” The Desputati, who had two straps on the left side of the stirrup would pick up the wounded, give them water and then convey them to an area where they could obtain some sort of medical treatment for their wounds. They were also responsible for refreshing the active soldiers with water.
This led the Byzantine army to the eventual formation of the Ambulance Corps. During the tenth century the Ambulance corps of the Byzantine armies incorporated a surgeon with between six and eight stretcher-bearers to a ratio of 250 men, this was by far the best that the times could offer.
In the majority of other armies, men who were sick or wounded were often left to die or left to the mercy of the enemy who commonly slit the throats of the wounded and robbed them of what little possessions they had.
During this time the immergence of the quack surgeon and doctor became common throughout Europe, offering cures or treatments that were ineffective and most times damaging.
“In the middle ages, people took potions for their ailments. In the 19th century they took snake oil. Citizens of today's shiny, technological age are too modern for that. They take antioxidants and extract of cactus instead.” 86