New Methods in Medicine


Symphorien Champier (circa 1472–circa 1535) was a French physician and a pioneer in the fields of medical history and medical bibliography. He was born in Saint-Symphorien and studied medicine at Montpellier. After serving as personal physician to the duke of Lorraine, he settled in Lyon, where he practiced medicine and founded L’Ecole des médicins de Lyon (The Medical School of Lyon). Lyon was a major publishing center for medical books in 16th-century Europe, and Champier produced a number of works on medicine. Practica nova in medicina (New methods in medicine) is an early contribution to the history of medicine. The title page describes the work as consisting of “five golden books, on all the different kinds of illnesses, from Greek, Latin and Arabic ancient and recent authors.” Champier studied the major works of Arab and Islamic medicine and recognized the many important contributions of Arab scientists and physicians to the field. Shown here is the rare first edition of Practica nova in medicina, published in Lyon in 1517. One of Champier’s medical colleagues in Lyon for a time was the great Renaissance writer François Rabelais, who satirized Champier in Gargantua and Pantagruel by naming him as the author of a fictional treatise in Latin on the use of suppositories.

Last updated: April 3, 2018