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VMs: Re: Spa architecture and inspirational sources

From: Luis Vélez <legal1@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Philip wrote:

> It seems that descriptions of individual
> spas and instructions for bathing were originally two different genres
> of writing belonging to geography and medicine (a strict partition
> between different arts and sciences was typical of purely mediaeval
> thought).

Indeed! but one can still find the ocassional exception to that partition
principle, as is the case of Lorenz Fries and his treaty on balneology.
Fries meets at least some of the profile requirements: he was an Alsacian
physican who (1) finished medical studies in Germany, France, and Italy (in
Vienna, Montpellier, Pavia and Piacenza); (2) was very familiar with the
work of Claudius Ptolemy (remember that unusual Xth Century zodiac?); (3)
was well versed in astrology and (4) the author of an early balneology
treaty describing the methods of treatment by internal and external use of
mineral waters, having visited spas in Baden and Pfeffers in Switzerland,
Plombiers in France, and Wildbad, Baden-Baden, Guppingen, Ems, Geberwil and
others in Germany. Furthermore, (5) his dateline qualifies:1490-1531, he had
(6) great veneration for Arabic medicine and (7) had an interest in
pregnancy and childbirth from a medical point of view.

Maybe they have a copy of his book at the Wellcome? Nothing graphic of it is
available online, as far as I know.

I can only get to the Wellcome on Saturday morning which limits the amount of work I can do there. I went there this weekend and read Die Balneologie des 16. Jahrhunderts im Spiegel der deutschen Badeschriften, by Irmgard Probst (1971).

She says that the earliest German work on the subject was written
in about 1480 and that the German literature is modelled on earlier
Italian work. The key point is that hot springs were regarded as
free medicine for *poor* people and they were the audience for the
vernacular literature. Authors like Fries followed a formula which
described the whereabouts of as many hot springs as possible with
details of the ailments they were good for and instructions for
taking the cure. This is the context for illustrations of people
bathing. If I read Probst correctly, these illustrations are not
typical of the scientific, mainly Latin, literature speculating on
the origin of hot water and mineral water.

The Wellcome has indeed got a copy of the Fries book and several
others of the same type, but they will have to wait till next
weekend. Leonhard Fuchs, who has been discussed on this list in
connection with his herbal, was also interested in baths.

Philip Neal

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