The great debate
Asword about Denis' human trials and Mauroy's death spread, Europe's ignorant masses as well as its key thinkers tried to make sense of what was occurring. For some this was an example of the way that new science was bound to reshape their view of the world and themselves, for others it was taken as an omen that this new way of looking at life was doomed to end in disaster. Prior to this, people had believed that reality had been revealed by the reasoned arguments of Aristotle and the like, and (literally) set in stone by the church. The great cathedrals were places to come and experience God's majestic splendour, not places in which to question understandings and make new discoveries. They were monuments that could not be moved, allowing people to experience something of a fixed understanding of an unchanging world. New science was breaking the mould. Reasoned arguments were important, but not on their own. Experience and experiment were becoming the new arbiters of truth.
The discussions that emerged on almost any subject were intriguing mixtures of ignorance and insight, permission and prejudice, and transfusion was no exception. As soon as word was out that Denis had cured a madman, he was held by some as a valiant warrior against illness, and by others as a hot-blooded youngster incapable of obeying orders from his superiors. Mauroy's death only fuelled the flames of gossip.
Throughout 1667 and 1668, many around Europe contributed to the debate in the form of letters and published pamphlets. Most fell neatly into pro-Denis or anti-Denis camps, although a few were prepared to express an open mind. Given the difficulties of travel, and the uncertain nature of European politics, many never met each other, but this restriction is one that this book is about to remove. In the decade after