Universa medicina, 1645, Nova editione, qvæ obscura erant, illustrata. Lugduni Batavorum: Ex Officina Francisci Kackii

Universa medicina, 1645


Jean Fernell (1497-1558)



Jean Fernell (1497-1558) (a.k.a. Ioannes Fernelius)

Born in Montdidier, about 60 miles north of Paris, his family moved to the suburbs of Paris when he was 12. After receiving his early education at Clermont and being a gifted mathematician, he pursued medicine at the College of Sainte-Barbe, Paris, in 1530 to ensure a steady living. He became a physician and professor of medicine at the Collège de Cornouaille, part of the Old University of Paris, where he taught for over 20 years. His general erudition and the skill and success with which he sought to revive the study of the old Greek physicians gained him a reputation and, ultimately, the office of physician to the court of Henry II and his wife, Catherine de Medici. She sought his advice regarding their difficulty in conceiving a child. He successfully practiced and left behind a large fortune at his death in Paris in 1558.

In his work, "Medicina", Fernel introduced the terms pathology and physiology. In his work, Fernel defines physiology as the science that “tells of the causes of the actions of the body”. He was the first person to describe the spinal canal. He described the diseases of each organ in a systematic fashion. He also was the first to describe appendicitis and endocarditis. In "Universa Medicina", he introduced the heart's systole, diastole, and gastrointestinal peristalsis. Fernel's last work was finished and edited by Guillaume Plancy, a contemporary biographer and follower. On his deathbed, Fernel was greatly worried that he had not found time to finish his work Medicina. It fell upon Plancy to edit the full text of the Universa Medicina (1567).

The text is divided into three sections: physiology, pathology, and therapeutics. It was novel for its time because, within it, Fernel treated human physiology as an integrated mosaic rather than isolating each organ and its functions. With this work, Fernel was able to bridge the gap between old and new medicine.

The 1645 edition, in our collection, is rare, but lacks the completeness of the posthumous edition.

Based on research done by Nadia Cowan as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2022-2023. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Version

Universa medicina, 1645, Nova editione, qvæ obscura erant, illustrata. Lugduni Batavorum: Ex Officina Francisci Kackii. >>>