Johanni Scultetus (Johannes Schulteiss) is one of the best known German surgeons of the 17th century. His book, Armamentarium chirurgicum was published 10 years after his death, prepared by his nephew, a surgeon in his own right. The book is revolutionary for the details and meticulousness in compiling accurate information on instrumentation and surgical procedures many pioneered by Scultetus himself. The book is richly illustrated with engravings of Jonas Arnold, a German engraver and painter.
Born the eldest of eight children in Ulm, Germany, Johannes Scultetus lost both parents by age 13. He was forced to support his younger siblings and worked as a waiter for 4 years in Regensburg followed by two more years of work in Vienna, Austria. Through a chance encounter in 1616 with the famous Belgian physician, Adrian van Der Spieghel, Scultetus’ life change. Impressed by his intellect and thirst of knowledge, van Der Spieghel employed the young Johannes as his servant. He quickly proved intelligent and eager to learn. Spieghel was on his way to the University of Padua to become Professor of Anatomy. The Anatomy department was famous for past professors and graduates of the stature of Andreas Vesalius (Professor), Girolamo Fracastore (Professor), William Harvey (graduate class of 1603), Fabricius ab Aquapendente (Professor). While a student at Padua and assistant to van Der Spieghel, Scultetus took care of most of the dissections during teaching and was engaged in the treatment of his master’s patients. With such experience, Scultetus graduated with honors on August 19 in 1623. In 1625 he returned to Ulm as the town physician. His 20 years of practice in Ulm (1625-1645) before his premature death, was extremely productive. He decided to institute formal education to barber surgeons, something that was not yet required in German provinces. He was active during the Thirty Year War between Sweden and Germany (1618-1648) and gained considerable surgical/medical experience. Throughout his career, he took detailed notes, introduced new surgical instruments and techniques, and read widely from the texts of the time, Hippocrates, Celsus, Galen, Avicenna, de Chauliac, Vesalius, Falloppio and Casserius. In 1645, at the age of 50 Scultetus died of a stroke. His nephew, a graduate of the University of Padua, a surgeon, and also called Johannes Scultetus published his uncle’s notes in 1655. The first edition was written in Latin and had 170 pages and 43 engravings. French and German translations followed. By the following year in 1656, a second Latin edition was prepared and expanded to include 100 cases. As such, the 1656 edition (the copy we have) is 370 pages long and includes 50 beautiful illustrations created by the German engraver and painter Jonas Arnold (1609, Augsburg -1669, Ulm). The book is exceptional in new surgical techniques used in mastectomy, cesarean section, hernia operation and arterial ligation. His illustrations are so precise that his book was used to teach surgeons throughout the 17th century and was widely considered the most influential surgery text of the time.
Armamentarium Chirurgicum 1656 >>>
Oral retractors (left), surgical Instruments (center) and extraction instruments of Pare (right) from the edited and translated version of Chirurgia Magna of Guy de Chauliac.