Early 17th-Century Physicians and the Peregrinatio Academica

Early 17th-Century Physicians and the 'Peregrinatio Academica'

The case of Johann Schreck Terrentius (1576-1630)

Noël Golvers

14 March 2023 – 5 PM (CET)

Johann Schreck Terrentius (1576-1630), was born in Bingen and was educated as a physician in Freiburg. He then studied in Basel, where he tutored students with chymiatric experiments. By the beginning of 1604, during a two-year stay in Paris, he was considered one of the best contemporary chymiatrists.

Further studies in Padua (1604), probably with Acquapendente (and Galileo), continued with a ‘peregrinatio academica’ throughout Europe, searching for the ‘lapis philosophicus’, and then by collecting medical books, distilling at German courts, making chemical recipes and personal contacts with people such as Alstein, Crollius, Duchesne and Mosanus.

In 1609 – 11 in Rome in the Accademia dei Lincei, he perfectioned his medical practice with Johann Faber in Roman hospitals, as well as with pharmacists and botanists; from there onwards he had contacts with Cinzio Clementi, Santorio Santorio, Petrus Poterius, and others.

In this talk, I will explore Terentius’ travels and medical profile, which was part of a more holistic education, in the ‘encyclopaedic’ tradition (Lull, Ramus, etc.), but also had a strong mathematical component.

Terentius’ medical background included medicinal botany, mineralogy and thermalism, the therapeutic use of opium and an active interest in quantitative medicine; he was the first to describe emphysema. From 1618 he lived in China, where he translated some European medical (and mathematical) works into Chinese, before dying in 1630 during a farmaceutical experiment with a sudorificum.

About the Speaker ...

Noël Golvers is a senior researcher at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and a scholar of Jesuits missions in China.

Noël edited and translated a great number of Latin works by and on Jesuits in China and is a specialist in the works of Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688). His book on Verbiest’s European Astronomy of 1687 was published in 1993 and was followed by a highly acclaimed book on the reception of Verbiest’s astronomical work in Europe, Ferdinand Verbiest S.J. (1623-1688) and the Chinese Heaven. Since the mid-1980s, Noël has, with the support of the Verbiest Institute,  unearthed numerous unknown manuscripts and books related to the China Jesuit mission. In 2009 he finished a bibliography and anthology of Verbiest’s unedited works. Most recently he has authored the volume Johann Schreck Terrentius, SJ: His European Networks and the Origins of the Jesuit Library in Peking (Brill 2022).

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