Waldschmiedt (Waldschmidt), Johann Jacob (1644-1689)

Institutiones Medicinae Rationalis (1689)

Institutiones Medicinae Rationalis (1689)

Johann Waldschmiedt was a German physician born in Rodheim in 1644, in Hesse, just north of Frankfurt am Main. The region was in the midst of the 30-year old war that ended in 1648 with the piece of Westphalia. Waldschmiedt was a professor of Medicine, educated at the University of Prague, Vienna with a medical doctorate in Giessen, a university just north of his birth place. He was 23. His early adult life was shared between a practice in Hanau, just west of Frankfurt and, seven years later in 1974, a professorship at University of Marburg, just 20 miles north of Hanau. At University of Marburg he became Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and elected Rector of the University, for several years. During his short life (45 years) he published several books including Fundamenta Medicinae, ad mentem neotericorum delineata, in 1685.

As professor of Medicine he supervised doctoral students. Many of his published works werere associated with such thesis. For instance, in 1676 a thesis on the use of opiates was defended by Philippus Henricus Chuno. In 1688, the dissertation thesis of Johannis Dolæi (1651-1707): Tractatus novus nunquam antehac editus de furia podagræ lacte, victa et ... Commercium epistolare, de diversis argumentis rem medicam spectantibus, was published. His Praxis Medicine, 1691 was published posthumously.

The book in our collection is one of his important works, Institutiones Medicinae Rationalis was first published in 1688, just a year prior to his death. Our copy is a second edition, 1689 and was published in Leiden (Lugduni Batavorum). It translates:  Advice to a physician: containing particular directions relating to the cure of most diseases: with reflections on the nature and uses of the most celebrated remedies. By way of aphorisms

Waldschmidt was a subscriber to the Galenic form of medicine supporting the classic view of the transformation of natural spirit into vital spirit and animal spirit as it moved with the blood. He identifies a fourth spirit, the genital spirit. This is all the more surprising since the book was published 60 years after William Harvey’s De Motu Cordis, about the blood circulation and the two years after Malpighi published the existence of the pulmonary capillaries, making Harvey’s discovery obvious. In Waldschmidt’s defense is the fact that Harvey’s discovery was not widely accepted for decades and it became incorporated into mainstream medicine only in the 19th century.

Digital Version