Communities of Learned Experience: Epistolary Medicine in by Nancy G. Siraisi

By Nancy G. Siraisi

During the Renaissance, collections of letters either chuffed humanist enthusiasm for old literary types and supplied the flexibleness of a structure applicable to many varieties of inquiry. the published collections of clinical letters via Giovanni Manardo of Ferrara and different physicians in early sixteenth-century Europe might hence be considered as items of scientific humanism. The letters of mid- and overdue sixteenth-century Italian and German physicians tested in Communities of discovered Experience via Nancy G. Siraisi additionally illustrate practices linked to the recommendations of the Republic of Letters: open and comparatively casual communique between a discovered group and a liberal trade of data and concepts. also, such released clinical correspondence may well usually have served to supply mutual reinforcement attractiveness.

Siraisi makes use of a few of these collections to check methods to sharing clinical wisdom throughout wide areas of Europe and inside of a urban, with the aim of illuminating geographic variations in addition to range inside social, city, courtly, and educational environments. The collections she has chosen contain essays on basic scientific issues addressed to colleagues or disciples, a few suggestion for person sufferers (usually written on the request of the patient’s doctor), and a powerful dose of controversy.

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Its contents included a group of eleven of Lange’s letters on surgical topics that must have favorably impressed Conrad Gesner, for he included them in his collection of works on surgery published in Zurich the following year. In 1556, the entire contents of Lange’s first set of epistolae medicinales were reprinted in the anthology of medical letter collections by different authors titled Epistolae medicinales diversorum authorum, published in Lyon. It seems likely that Reusner had this volume in mind when he associated Lange with Italian writers of medical letters, since the anthology’s other authors—Manardo, Mondella, Massa, and Teodosi—were all Italian and correspond, with two exceptions, to Reusner’s own list of such authors.

Unlike Mercuriale’s Consultationes, which were frequently reprinted by Venetian presses, this correspondence was not published in Italy. Mercuriale’s letters to Zwinger remain in manuscript, and his correspondence with 28 Communities of Learned Experience Crato, Monau, and others was published only in Scholz’s collections. For Zwinger, collecting a vast range of correspondence—the library of Basel University has well over two thousand letters addressed to him—was doubtless one more way of assembling encyclopedic information.

In the same letter Erastus considered whether and in what circumstances spiritus (in the ancient medical sense of a refined material substance in the body) could putrefy.  Fernel was the author of a famous treatise On the Hidden Causes of Things and of a comprehensive textbook of physiology, pathology, and therapy that remained one of the most widely read general works on medicine until well into the seventeenth century. He positioned himself as a reformer of medicine, although for the most part he espoused a modified Galenism.

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