Patrick's Rare Books

Fernel, Medicina, 1555

Fernel, Medicina, 1555

IO. Fernelii Ambiani Medicina. Ad Henricum II. Galliarum Regem Christianissiumum. Venetiis Apud Balthassarem Constantinum Ad Siglum Divi Georgii. 1555 


20th century speckled calf with three raised bands (four compartments) and gold text and details on spine. Green ribbon intact. Red page edges. Many variably sized and variably ornate decorative capitals. Capital Q on first dedication leaf hand-colored in red. Mild shelf wear to leather but otherwise binding in fine condition. A few minute scuffs and speckled stains of page edges. Book plate of James Tait Goodrich on front paste down. New end papers. Text in Roman font. Margins ample. One leaf has paper repair to bottom corner (De Signus Liber Secundus pg 42). Scattered ink marginalia in an early hand. Patchy mild marginal damp stain, not involving text, most notably involving approximately middle fifty and last fifty leaves. Small scattered foci of marginal worming. Otherwise, clean, bright, and tight throughout.  


2 new blanks, title, xxii leaves prelims, Physiologiae Libri Septem: 239 leaves & 20 leaves index, 2 blanks, Pathologiae Libri VII: 219 leaves & 51 leaves index, Therapeutice Seu Medendi Ratio. (includes De Venae Sectione & De Purgandi Ratione): 70 leaves & 11 leaves of index, 1 original blank, 2 new blanks. 

6 1/8 x 4 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches 


Born 1497 (died 1558), entered the College de Ste. Barbe of the University of Paris in 1516. His first book (1527) was on mathematics and described an astrolabe he had designed. He obtained an M.D. degree in 1530, and began teaching medicine in 1536 in the College de Cornouailles. In 1542 he published De Naturali Parte Medicinae, which gave name to the subject of Physiology. His De Abditis Rerum Causis was first published in 1448, and his Universa Medicina in 1554. 


“Fernel was a full-fledged pathologist.” … He classified diseases as general (those with undetermined localization) and special (localized to a particular organ or site). Special diseases were classified as above or below the diaphragm, or, external diseases. He differentiated symptoms vs signs. His Pathologiae Libri VII was “the first medical work to be called a text of Pathology.”... “His treatment of abnormalities in the uterus, which had the benefit of surgical and obstetrical as well as post-mortem knowledge, is more nearly exhaustive.” In 1567 he gave (with autopsy findings), “the only clear case of [appendicitis] on record until Heister’s in 1711.” … “His Pathology was as suitable a text for teaching in his time as Matthew Baillie’s, more than two hundred years later. He towered in this respect above his contemporaries and immediate followers...” (Long, 1928) 


“It appears the publisher of [Consiliorum liber] also issued it as part of a complete edition of the Universa Medicina published in the same year. Thus his customers could purchase the entire work or individual sections, as they preferred.” (Heirs). 


“Fernel was the first to describe appendicitis, endocarditis, etc. He believed aneurysms to be produced by syphilis, and differentiated true from false aneurysms. He was physician to Henri II of France. 


“Fernel suggested that physicians should themselves study the human body and not accept tradition” (G-M 572) 


This insistence “may very well have inspired his pupil, Vesalius, to the latter’s great anatomical studies.” (Heirs) 


However, Nuland relates: “In later years Vesalius would write that he learned virtually nothing of human anatomy during his years in Paris. In his own words” ‘Except for eight muscles of the abdomen, disgracefully mangled and in the wrong order, no one...ever demonstrated to me any single muscle, or any single bone, much less the network of nerves, veins, and arteries.’”