THE TEXTBOOK OF THE MEDICAL STUDENT IN RENAISSANCE SPAIN

Institutiones chirurgicae … pro chirurgis in praxis examinandi.

Madrid, Sanchez, 1594.

£1,850

FIRST EDITION, 8vo, ff. (4), 112, 83, (1). Roman letter; large coat of arms of Philipp II of Spain on title, white-and-black decorated initials; marginal repairs to some fore edges occasionally affecting side notes; tiny worm holes at head of pp. 33-49. A good clean copy in modern boards.

First edition of this textbook for university-trained surgeons in the Spanish Kingdom. Luis Mercado (1525? – 1606) was a renowned physician and professor in Valladolid. For his outstanding merit, he was appointed personal doctor to the Kings Philipp II and III, as well as leading practitioner of the kingdom (protomedico). He was a pioneer in gynaecology and paediatrics and the first scholar to provide an analytical, correct description of diphtheria and syphilis. As a proof of his posthumous fame, his name crops up several times in Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy.’

Philipp II was concerned with the poor quality of training of Spanish medical practitioners, and wanted to improve it. At his request, Mercado wrote this comprehensive account of contemporary knowledge on surgery, so as to standardize the requirements for graduates. The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with surgical practice with regard to cancers, wounds and ulcerations, while the second focuses on pharmacology and postoperative procedure. The examinees were asked to learn by heart all the contents.

The standard manual for physicians, the ‘Institutiones medicae,’ was published in the same year as a companion work. The crown ordered the universities of Salamanca, Valladolid and Alcalá de Henares to adopt both Mercado’s textbooks in their curricula, and the two books to be widely printed and distributed. In his capacity as protomedico, Mercado supervised all the licensing examinations and retained the last word on final results. An uncommon and important work.

Not in BM STC Sp., Adams, Heirs of Hippocrates. Durling, 3079; Wellcome, 4214.

L1940

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