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Muralt, Johannes von

MURALT, JOHANNES VON

(b. Zürich, Switzerland, 18 February 1645; d. Zürich, 12 January 1733)

Surgery, medicine, anatomy.

Muralt was a member of the old noble de Muralto family, which had been driven from its seat in Locarno in 1555 upon its conversion to Protestantism. The refugees were eventually invested with citizenship in the Reformed Swiss cities of Bern and Zürich, and found new prosperity. Some of Muralt’s ancestors were physicians and diplomats; his father, Johann Melchior Muralt, was a merchant.

Muralt was educated at the Zürich Carolinum. When he was twenty he published his Schola mutorum ac surdorum, then set out on his academic travels, which took him to Basel Leiden, London, Oxford, Paris, and Montpellier. He studied anatomy, surgery, and obstetrics with a number of famous teachers, among them Franciscus Sylvius. He returned to Switzerland to take the M.D. at the University of Basel in 1671 with a dissertation “De morbis parturientium et accidentibus, quae partum in- sequuntur.”The following year he settled in Zürich, where he married Regula Escher; they had many children, including the distinguished physician Johann Conrad Muralt.

The Zürich surgeons’ guild challenged Muralt’s right to practice in that city, and he encountered widespread disapproval for conducting public animal dissections. His success as a physician overcame all opposition, however, and after five years of argument the Zürich Bürgerrat authorized him to dissect the bodies of executed criminals and of hospital patients who had died of rare diseases. Muralt was admitted to the Academia Caesario-Leopoldina Naturae Curio- sorum (with the name “Aretaeus”) in 1681; forgetting their old feud, the surgeons also made him an honorary member of their guild.

In 1686 Muralt gave a course of lectures at the surgeons’ guildhall, “Zum Schwarzen Garten.”His

audience was composed of surgeons, their apprentices, medical students, and laymen; the lectures themselves were the first on anatomical subjects to be given in the vernacular. Once a week, for an entire year, Muralt displayed dissected bodies (chiefly animal) and discussed the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the organs. He expounded the theory of diseases and outlined medical and surgical treatment, including precise directions for the use of medicinal plants and detailed instructions for military surgeons.

In 1688 Muralt was named archiater of Zürich, with duties that comprised devising sanitary measures to protect the city against infectious diseases, advising the municipal marriage court, inspecting apothecaries, supervising the training of midwives, and treating internal diseases in the city’s hospital. Ex officio, Muralt also performed all operations for fractures, the stone, and cataracts. In 1691 he was appointed professor of natural sciences at the cathedral school and also became canon of its chapter. He made use of this multitude of offices to transform Zürich into an important center for the study of anatomy and surgery.

Muralt’s considerable achievement was largely based upon his surgical skill. He developed new procedures and set them forth systematically in his writings. His work is, however, more notable for the quantity and range of his material than for the depth of his knowledge. His twenty-one titles on anatomy, medicine, and physiology, as well as his thirteen separate publications on mineralogy, zoology, and botany, are marred by repetitiousness. Many of his printed works represent a collection of what are, in effect, his laboratory notes on experiments, natural objects, or the course of a disease (for example, the 174 “Observationes”that he published in Miscellanea curiosa medico-physica Academiae naturae curiosorum); others, among them the Anatomisches Collegium of 1687, record his lectures more or less verbatim. His principle work on natural history was Systema physicae experimenialis … (1705–1714); a manuscript regional pharmacopoeia has also been preserved. The last of his writings, Kurtze und Grundlich Be- schreibung der ansteckenden Pest (1721) remains of interest for its suggestion of the “animal”nature of the plague contagium.

In general, Muralt was a keen observer and a poor critic. He was occasionally prey to superstition, and elements of popular medical beliefs are apparent in his theory of disease. But if some of his therapeutic measures derive from the operations of magic, Muralt was nevertheless an effective physician and a tireless popularizer and communicator of genuinely scientific knowledge.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Muralt’s writings include Vade- mecum anatomicum sive clavis medicinae (Zurich, 1677); Anatomisches Collegium (Nuremberg, 1687); Curationes medicae observationibus et experimentis anatomicis mixtae (Amsterdam, 1688); Kinder- und Hebammenbüchlein (Zurich, 1689; Basel, 1697); Chirurgische Schriften (Basel, 1691); Hippocrates Helveticus oder der Eydgenössische Stadt- Land- und Hauss-Artzt (Basel, 1692); Systema physicae experimentalis, 4 vols. (Zurich, 1705–1714), of which the fourth part, Botanologia seu Helvetiae paradisus, was trans. into German as Eydgenössischer Lust-Garte (Zurich, 1715); Schriften von der Wund-Artzney (Basel, 1711); Kriegs- und Soldaten-Diaet (Zurich, 1712); and Sichere Anleitung wider den dissmal grassirenden Rothen Schaden (Zurich, 1712).

II. Secondary Literature. On Mutalt and his work, see C. Brunner, Die Verwundeten in den Kriegen der alten Eidgenossenschaft (Tübingen, 1903); and Aus den Briefen hervorragender Schweizer Ärzte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Basel, 1919), written with W. von Muralt; E. Eidenbenz, “Dr. Leonhard von Muralts ‘Pharmocopoea domestica,’”in Schweizerische Apothekerzeitung, 60 (1922), 393–399; J. Finsler, Bemerkungen aus dem Leben des Johannes von Muralt (Zurich, 1833); H. Koller, “Das anatomische Institut der Universität Zürich in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung,”in Zürcher medizingeschichtlichen Ab- handlungen, 11 (1926); K. Meyer-Ahrens, “Die Arztfamilie von Muralt, insbesondere Joh. v. Muralt, Arzt in Zürich,”in Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilkunde, 1 (1862), 268–289, 423–436, and 2 (1863), 25–47; O. Obschlager, “Der Zürcher Stadtarzt Joh. von Muralt und der medi- zinische Aberglaube seiner Zeit,”M.D. dissertation, University of Zurich (1926); G. Sticker, Abhandlungen aus der Seuchengeschichte und Seuchenlehre, vol. I Die Pest (Giessen, 1910); and G. A. Wehrli, “Die Bader, Barbiere und Wundärzte im alten Zürich, in Mitteilungen der Antiquarischen Gesellschaft Zürich, 30 , pt. 3 (1927), 99.

JÖrn Henning Wolf

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"Muralt, Johannes von." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Muralt, Johannes von." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/muralt-johannes-von-0

Muralt, Johannes von

MURALT, JOHANNES VON

(b. Zürich, Switzereland, 18 February 1645; d. Zörich, 12 January 1733)

surgery, medicine, anatomy

Muralt was a member of the old noble de Muralto family, which had been driven from its seat in Locarno upon its conversion to Protestantism. The refugees were eventually invested with citizenship in the Reformed Swiss cities of Bern and zurich, and found new prosperity. Som of Muralt’s ancestors were physicians and diplomats: his father, Johann Melchior Muralt, was a merchant.

Muralt was educated at the Zurich Carolinium. When he was twenty he published his Scholoa mutorum ac surdorum, then set out on his academic travels, which took him to Basel, Leiden, London, Oxford, Paris, and Montpellier. He studied anatomy, surgery, and obstetrics with a number of famous teachres, among them Franciscus Sylvius. He returned to Switzerland to take the M.D. at the University of Basel in 1671, with a dissertation “De morbis parturientium et accidentibus, quae partum insequuntur,” The following year he settled in Zurich, where he married Regula Escher; they had many children, including the distinguished physician Johann conrad Muralt.

The Zurich surgeons’ guild challenged Muralt’s right to practice in that city, and he encountered widespread disapproval for conducting public animal dissections. His success as a physician overcame all opposition, however, and after five years of argument the Zurich Börgerrat authorized him to dissect the bodies of executed criminals and of hospital patients who had died of rare diseases. Muralt was admitted to the Academia Naturae Curiosorum (with the name “Aretaeus”) in 1681; forgetting their old feud, the surgeones also made him an honorary member of their guild.

In 1686 Muralt gave a course of lectures at the surgeons’ guildhall, “Zum Schwarzen Garten.” His audiences, medical students, and laymen: the lectures themselves were the first on anatomical subjects to be given in the vernacular. Once a week. for an entire year, Muralt, displayed dissected bodies (chiefly animal) and discussed the anatomy. physiology, and pathology of the organs. He expounded the theory of diseases and outlined medical and surgical treatment, including precise directions for the use of medicinal plants and detailed instructions for military surgeons.

In 1691 Muralt was named archiater of Zurich, with Duties that comprised devising sanitary measures to protect the city against infecious diseases, advising the municipal marriage cour, inspecting apothecaries, supervising the training of midwives, and treating internal diseases in the city’s hospital. Ex officio, Muralt also performed all operations for fractures, the stone, and cataracts. In 1691 he was appointed professor of natural sciences at the cathedral school and also became canon of its chapter. He made use of thismultitude of offices to transform Zurich into an important center for the study of anatomy and surgery.

Muralt’s consierable achivement was largely based upon his surgical skill. He deeloped new produres and set them forth systematically in his writings. His work is, however, more notable for the quantity and range of his material than for the depth of his knowledge. His twenty–one titles on anatomy medicine, and physiology, as well as his thirteen separate publications on mineralogy, zoology, and botany, are marred by repetitiousness. Many of his printed works represent a collection of what are, in effect, his laboratory notes on experiments, natural objects, or the course of a disease (for example, the 174 “Obervationes” that he published in Miscellanea curiosa medico–physica Academiae naturae curiosorum); others, among them the Anaomisches Collegium in 1687, record his lectures more or less verbatim. His principal work on natural history was Systema physicae experimentalis…(1705–1714); a manuscript regional pharmacopoeia has also been preserved. The last of his writings, Kurtze und Grundliche Beschreibung der ansteckenden pest (1721), remains of interest for its suggestion of the “animal” nature of the plague contagium.

In general, Muralt was a keen observer and a poor critic. He was occasionally prey to superstition, and elements of popular medical beliefs are apparent in his theory of disease. but if some of his therapeutic measures derive from the operations of magic, Muralt was nevertheless an effective physician and a tireless popularizer and communicator of genuinely scientific knowledge

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Muralt’s writings include Vademecum anatomicum sive clavis mdicinae (Zurich, 1677); Anatomissches Collegium (Nuremburg, 1687); Curationes medicae observationibus et experimentis anatomicis mixtae (Amsterdam, 1688); Kinder, –und Hebammenbuchlein (Zurich, 1689; 1693); Cirurgische schriften (Basel, 1691); Hippocrates Helveticus oder der Eydgenössische stadt– Land– und Hauss–Ärtzt (Basl, 1692); Systema physicae experimenalis…(Zurich, 1705–1714), of whickh the fourth part, Botnologia sea Helvetiae Paradisus, was trans. into Geman as Eydgenössischer Lust–Garte (Zurich, 1715); Schriftn von der Wund–Ärtzney (Basel, 1711); Kriegs–und Soldatn–Diaet (Zurich, 1712); and Sichere Anleitung wider den dissmal grassirenden Rothen Schaden (Zurich, 1712)

II. Secondary Literatur. On Muralt and his work, see C. Brunner, Die verwundeten in den Kriegen der alten Eidgenossenschaft (Tubingen, 1903); and Aus den Briefen hervorragender schweizer Ärzte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Basel,1919); written wtih W. von Muralt; E. Didenbenz. “Dr. Johannes von Muralts ’pharmocopoeia domesica,’” in Schweizerische Apothekerzeiturng 60(1922), 29–31;j. Finsler, Bemerkungen aus den Leben des johannes von Murlat(Zurich, 1833); H. Koller, “Das anatomische Institut der Universität Zörich in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung,” in Zörche r medizingeschichtliche Abhandlungen, 11 (1926) ; K. Meyer Ahrens, “Die Ärztfamilie von Muralt, insbesondere Joh. v. Muralt, Ärzt in Zörich,” in Schweizerische Zitschrift för Heilkunde, 1 (1862), 268, 423, and 2 (1863), 25–47; O. Obschlager, “Der Zörcher stadtärzt Joh. von Muralt und der medizinische Aberglaube seiner Zeit,” M.D. dissertation University of Zurich (1926); g. sticker, abhandlungen aus der seuchengeschichteund seuchenlehre vol. I, Die pest(Giessen, 1910); and G.A. Wehrli, “die Bader, Barbire und Wundärzte imalten Zörich,in Mitteilungen der Antiquarische Gesellschaft Zöich, 30, pt. 3(1927)

J. H. Wolf

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
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"Muralt, Johannes von." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Muralt, Johannes von." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/muralt-johannes-von

"Muralt, Johannes von." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/muralt-johannes-von