John Biggins

The Surgeon's Apprentice

The Surgeon's Apprentice by John Biggins

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A tale of medicine, war, seafaring and stargazing from the very beginnings of the modern world.

Born on Christmas Day 1610 in a Flanders cowshed, Frans Michielszoon van Raveyck grows up to become one of the most singular minds of the 17th century: surgeon, inventor, engineer, explorer, astrologer and proto-scientist, employed at various times — and with somewhat mixed results — in the service of most of the kings of Christendom.

This first volume of his biography takes us from his humble nativity through his family’s flight to England, his apprenticeship as a surgeon there, and finally to his involvement aboard a Dutch warship in the disastrous naval expedition to Cadiz in the autumn of 1625; an enterprise regarded by connoisseurs of incompetence as the worst-conducted military operation in Britain’s entire history. Which young Frans, however, observing the chaos around him, attributes to the expedition having neglected to take a good astrologer along with it…


“John Biggins is the author of a wry and fascinating tetralogy of novels… The Surgeon’s Apprentice is another soundly researched tale… it makes for a good yarn.” — The Spectator, Books of the Year 2010

Previous editions

The book was first published by the author in 2010. The most recent edition was published in 2021 by Bonanova Editions, Barcelona, Spain.


Format: Paperback
Print length: 513 pages
ISBN-13: 979-8596797640
Publication date:
Edition: 5th edition
Publisher: Bonanova Editions