De impedimentis magnorum auxiliorum in morborum curatione, 1652

De impedimentis magnorum auxiliorum in morborum curatione, 1652




Ponce de Santacruz, Antonio (1561-1632)

PONCE DE SANTA CRUZ, Antonio. (1561–1632) was the court physician of Philip III and Philip IV, Spanish Kings. He was the son of Alonso de Santa Cruz, a famous Spanish cartographer, instrument maker, and historian. Antonio studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Valladolid and received bachelor’s in 1585 and doctor’s degrees in 1591. He became a University professor at the University of Valladolid and a clergyman. He was interested in lycanthropy, or free will. He published posthumously in 1622 his father’s book on the diagnosis and treatment of melancholy and in 1931, his own book, the first Spanish treatise on epilepsy, Praelections Valliosoletanae.

De Impedimentis translates to ‘On the impediments of great aids in treating diseases.’ It was one of the most widely held works by Ponce de Santa Cruz. The book is divided into three parts. The first part is about the obstacles that could help treatment. An example in this section is the use of medicines during delivery and the significance of not forcing the fetus out because of the risk to the baby and mother. The second part is about things hindering treatment and well-being – such as lack of fresh air, sleep, good food, and drink. An example in this section is the discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of bloodletting, including the ancient belief that the vein should be cut with a hammer to be cleansed during a procedure. Of note is the fact that Ponce de Santacruz was a believer in the Humoral Theory of disease and the need for bleeding to rebalance the humors. The third part is about steps that hinder nature.

This book is about challenges during sickness and steps to improve treatment. The information collected from various ancient authors, like Hippocrates, and from experiences from hundreds of years ago, the medical information is a reflection of the status of medicine in the middle of the 17th century, just before the publication of William Harvey’s De Motu Cordis, on blood circulation, one of the most important medical books of the last Millennium.

Based on research done by Harshal Shet, class of 2026, as part of his assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2022-2023. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

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