Tag Archives: History Essays

Too many doctors: the death of Friedrich III

Nicolas Roberto Robles  Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Kaiser Friedrich Museum (currently Bode Museum) on the Monbijou Bridge in Berlin, 1905. Public domain. Via Wikimedia Un médico cura; dos, dudan; tres, muerte segura. One doctor, health; two, doubt; three, certain death. -Spanish saying.   Friedrich III of Hohenzollern was the second Kaiser of Germany and […]

The influence of the text “De Arte Gymnastica” on the resurgence of medical gymnastics in Renaissance Italy: Girolamo Mercuriale (1530-1606)

Philippe Campillo Daniel Caballero Lille, France   Figure 1. Hieronymous Mercurialis (1530–1606). Line engraving by Theodor de Bry, 1528-1598. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) The physicians of ancient Greece were aware that muscular exercise was a source of health and strength, as well as achieving corporal beauty through a balanced relationship between different parts of […]

Medicean optics: an analysis of Raffaello’s Portrait of Pope Leo X and Two Cardinals

Vincent P. de Luise  New Haven, Connecticut, United States   Portrait of Pope Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici) and his cousins, the cardinals Giulio de’ Medici and Luigi de’ Rossi. Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael). ​o​il on panel 154 cm x 119 cm (​61 in. ​x 4​9​ ​in​). 1518-1519. Galleria degli ​Uffizi​, ​Firenze​. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is […]

Otology in late Victorian Ireland

Tony Ryan Cork, Ireland   Figure 1: Unblocking the eustachian tube using Politzer’s bag. Source Introduction Henry MacNaughton Jones (1844-1918) was born in Cork City and graduated MD at Queen’s College, Cork, in 1864. Just four years later he founded the thirty-bed Cork Ophthalmic and Aural Hospital, where he practiced as a physician and surgeon. […]

Frankincense and myrrh: medicinal resin worth more than gold

Mariel Tishma Chicago, IL, United States   Incense. Frankincense on coal. Photo: birdy. 2007. CC BY-SA 3.0. Via Wikimedia. Boswellia and Commiphora trees are scraggly, sharp, and unfriendly. Growing close to the ground in the arid desert, they have short trunks and fanning branches, sometimes looking more like shrubs than trees. But despite their unlikely […]

Mount Everest and a medical atlas

Tony Ryan Cork, Ireland   This is a story of a medical atlas, the author, the illustrator, and her great-uncle. The book, the Atlas of the Diseases of the Membrana Tympani, was written by Dr. Henry MacNaughton Jones in 1878. This atlas of diseases of the “eardrum” was illustrated by nurse and artist, Margaret Boole. […]

Nazi doctors and medical eponyms

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Special Children’s Ward” Vienna Am Spiegelgrund. Source. The tradition in medicine has been to name a pathological condition after the person who first described it in the medical literature. Thus we have Addison’s disease, Down’s syndrome, and several hundred others. The tendency now is to eliminate the possessive,1 giving Addison […]

The first effective chemotherapy for cancer

Marshall A. Lichtman Rochester, New York, United States   Caution: Chemotherapy. Photo by Justin Levy. Via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0   Sulfur mustard gas had no influence on the outcome of the battle at Ypres during World War I despite the many deaths and severe injuries it inflicted. Since then, chemical weapons have been used in […]

In praise of swimming: from Benjamin Franklin to Oliver Sacks

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Oliver Sacks as a young child with his father. Courtesy of the Oliver Sacks Foundation. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) was not a physician, but many thought he was so-trained and referred to him as “Doctor” Franklin. After accepting an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in […]

William Marsden, surgeon and founder of the Royal Free and Royal Marsden Hospitals, London

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Portrait of William Marsden by Thomas Illidge 1850. Picture in public domain. Source To found one hospital is a fairly unusual achievement; to found two is a rare feat indeed. William Marsden, a nineteenth-century British doctor, founded both the Royal Free Hospital and the Royal Cancer Hospital (now known […]