Lazare Rivère

Lazare Rivière


Institutiones Medicae (The Hague)


Opera Medica Vniversa

Institutiones Medicae (The Hague). (The Standard of Medical Care) 1662.
Opera Medica Universa


Lazare Rivère, a French Anatomist, was born in 1589 in Montpellier, France where he completed his medical education in 1611. This was just a year before the great French surgeon Ambroise Paré died. In 1622 at age 33 he became head professor pharmacology and surgery at the University of Montpellier. His fame as a clinician brought royal attention. Louis XIII, King of France (1601-1643) named him an advisor. His claim to fame was his anti-vomit (anti-emetic) agent containing coffee and lime. In the French literature it is called “L’anti-emetique de Rivère”.

Among his early work he published in 1640, a 6 volume Praxis Medica cum Theoria (Medical Practice and Theory) – in which he recommends clove and camphor oil for toothache. (Our collection includes a 1672 edition). Clove oil contains eugenol and was subsequently incorporated into zinc oxide eugenol, the temporary restoration material used in sensitive teeth. The professional literature indicates Rivère as the first to describe the use of clove/camphor oil for teeth, even though Johannes Hartmann (1568-1631) a German chemist in 1632 published the same recommendation in Praxis chymiatrica (p.138). In Praxis Medica cum Theoria, Rivère, had some unusual recommendations for toothache:  instilling almond oil into the ear of the affected side. The section about camphor (oleum camphorae) and clove oil (oleum caryopyllorum) is shown in the last paragraph attached.

oleum camphorae

Rivère was an ardent supporter of William Harvey and in his book, Observationum Medicorum (Medical Observations, 1646) (our collection contains a 1672 edition that includes three of his main works) he was one the earliest to describe an aortic valve lesion consistent with aortic endocarditis in today’s diagnosis. Rivière was a keen observer during a post-mortem of one of his patients.

His main work, Institutiones Medicae, the book in our collection, was first published in 1655, the year of his death. Owing to the great success of this book in the following 20 years several editions were published in 1656, 1657, 1662, 1664, 1672 and 1674 and an English translation in 1657. Our edition is from 1662, printed in the Hague (Hagæ-Comitis).

The book is divided in five sections: 1. Physiology, with seven chapters; 2. Pathology in four chapters; 3. Semiology (Signs and symptoms) in three chapters; 4.  (Yganeh (gr.) or The preservation of health   5. Therapeutics (Medications and Instruments). This last section prescribes astringent solutions for gargling for a variety of oral conditions. We have a second copy of this work published as part of his posthumous collective workss in 1672.

Digital Version