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Casal Julian, Caspar Roque Francisco Narciso

Casal Julian, Caspar Roque Francisco Narciso

(b. Gerona, Spain, 31 December 1680; d Madrid, Spain, 10 August 1759),

medicine, naturalHistory.

Casal was the son of Federico Casal y Dajón and Magdalena Julian. He spent his childhood in Utrillas, in the province of Soria, his mother’s birthplace. There is no record of Casal’s having studied medicine at a university, although he stated that he had practiced medicine in several villages of Guadalajara province between 1707 and 1712; evidence indicates that he learned medicine in Atienza, Guadalajara, by apprenticeship to Juan Manuel Rodriguez de Lima, formerly apothecary to Pope Innocent XI and a distinguished pupil of Doncelli.

In 1713 Casal received the bachelor of arts degree from the nearby University of Sigüenza. He then left the province of Guadalajara and practiced medicine in Madrid. For reasons of health Casal left Madrid in 1717 and established his medical practice in Oviedo, Asturias, first as the city’s official doctor and later as physician to the local hospitals. During his residence in Oviedo, Casal formed a close friendship with two enlightened Benedictine writers, Fr. Benito Feyjóo y Montenegro and Fr. Martin Sarmiento, who greatly stimulated his scientific studies. In 1751 he returned to Madrid and was appointed royal physician, and in 1752 he became a member of the Board of the Protomedicate and the Royal Academy of Medicine. Casal’s first wife, Maria Ruiz, bore him two sons, Andrés Simón and Pablo; after her death he married Maria Álvarez Rodríguez Arango and had two more children, Ventura Benito and Magdalena.

Casa wrote a natural and medical history of Asturias, which was published posthumously in 1762. The first part, “Historia physico-médica de el principado de Asturias,” describes the geography, climate, plants, animals, and diseases most frequently observed in the province; the diseases include intestinal parasites, fevers, endemic goiter, scabies, leprosy, and the “malady of the rose,” or pellagra. Casal also discussed hygiene and preventive measures. The second part, a discussion of Hippocratic doctrines, confirms Casal’s excellent powers of observation. The third part deals with several epidemics that occurred in Asturias between 1719 and 1750, and Casal describes cases observed. The fourth part, “Historia affectionum quarundam regionis hujus familiarum,” describes scabies, identifying the Sarcoptes and recommending treatment with sulfur ointment. Leprosy, sometimes confused in the text with severe dermatological afflictions, and the “mal de la rosa,” described in every clinical manifestation, are illustrated by an engraved plate.


Casal’s Historia natural y médica del principado de Asturias. Obra posthuma, Juan JoséGarcia Sevillano, ed. (Madrid, 1762), was repr. with an excellent biographical study by Fermin Canella, preface by Ángel Pulido, and notes by A. Buylla and R. Sarandeses (Oviedo, 1900). For discussions of Casal or his work, see Anastasio Chinchilla, Historia de la medicina española, III (Valencia, 1846), 309–347; Antonio Hernández Morejón, Historia bibliográfica de la medicina española, VII (Madrid, 1852), 252–259; Juan Catalina Garcia, Biblioteca de escritores de la provincia de Guadalajara (Madrid, 1899), p. 433; Fermin Canella, “Noticias biográficas de Don Gaspar Casal,” in Casal (Oviedo, 1900), the best biographical study, which has been the basis of subsequent works; M. López Sendó n “Gaspar Casal, breve estudio de su vida y de su obra,” in Trabajos. Catedra de historia crítica de la medicina, Universidad de Madrid, 1 (1933), 313–324; Jaime PeyriRocamora, Mal de la rosa, su historia, causa, casos, curación (Masnou, 1936), preface, which provides the record of his birth and studies, as well as a clinical appraisal of Casal’s contributions to dermatology; and Rafael Sancho de San Roman, “Vida y obra de Gaspar Casal,” in Publicaciones del Seminario de historia de la medicina, Universidad de Salamanca, 2 , no. 3 (1959), 153–183, a survey of previous literature with an objective critical analysis of Casal as physician and scientist.

Francisco Guerra

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