BRUELE, Gualtherus.

BRUELE, Gualtherus. Praxis medicinae, or the Physicians Practise

London, John Norton for William Sheares, 1639


4to, pp. (iv) 407 (v). Roman and italic letter, text framed throughout, woodcut floriated initials and ornate headpieces. T-p a little bit soiled with early ms. inscription (cancelled) to lower blank margin, tear from lower outer corner (not affecting text), traces of sealing wax to blank margin of first and last ll. at gutter, light browning (heavier to one gathering), rare marginal foxing, light ink smudge to last leaf.  A good copy in contemporary calf, covers double blind ruled, a bit rubbed at corners, spine double blind ruled in compartments, rebacked.

Second English edition, “newly corrected and amended” from the first of 1632, of this highly successful medical manual. The Latin original Latin was published in 1579. In the middle of the 17th century, this was one of the most popular therapeutic works in English. Strangely, however, the identity of the translator remains unknown, presumed to be “I.A”, who signed the address to the reader.


“The physicians practise” was intended for a wide and varied audience: the title page reads “published for the good, not onely of Physicians, Chirurgions, and Apothecaries, but very meete and profitable for all such which are solicitious of their health’. Concise and straight forward, the manual is organised in a traditional way, providing description and treatment of numerous diseases from the head downwards. Their causes are usually located in humoral imbalance. It begins with headache (among the remedies for cold headache is a curious ‘sneezing powder’), then moves on to palsy, melancholy, dizziness, nightmares (considered a disorder of the body caused by a “grosse and cold phlegme”); it focuses on cough, stomach ache, jaundice, and numerous other conditions affecting liver and kidneys. Interesting chapters are dedicated to pain in the eyes, hearing problems, nosebleed, cough, and even hiccup. The final sections deal with pregnant women, gout, syphilis and the plague.


Very little is known about the life and origins of Gualtherus Bruele, alias Brant (fl. 1560), except for the few details contained in this work. He was an esteemed Renaissance physician, doctor in medicine and learned in mathematics. The dedication of the Latin edition to Henry Hastings, 3rd earl of Huntingdon, indicates a connection with England, and a letter from Plantin attests that Bruele was living there around 1580.

ESTC S105948; STC 3930; Wellcome I, 1094; Krivatsy 1862. Not in USTC, Garrison-Morton or Heirs of Hippocrates.
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