Hartmann, Johannes

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Hartmann, Johannes

(b. Amberg, Oberpfalz, Germany, 14 January 1568; d. Kassel, Germany, 7 December 1631)

iatrochemistry, medicine, mathematics.

Hartmann, a weaver’s son, worked as a bookbinder; scholarship aid enabled him to attend the university. He studied the arts, notably mathematics, at Jena, Wittenberg, and, from 1591, Marburg, from which he received a master’s degree. He may also have attended the universities of Altdorf, Helmstedt, and Leipzig. A friend, the Hessian court chronicler Wilhelm Dilich, introduced Hartmann to Landgrave Wilhelm IV of Hesse-Kassel, who was interested in the natural sciences, and to the landgrave’s son Moritz, who was interested particularly in alchemical metallurgical processes. In 1592 Hartmann became professor of mathematics at the University of Marburg, which was under the jurisdiction of Wilhelm IV’s brother, Landgrave Ludwig. He also studied medicine and received a doctorate in this subject in 1606. In addition, in 1594 he became adviser to Landgrave Moritz in Kassel, where he taught at the court school until 1601.

Thereafter Hartmann combined his interest in mathematics, astronomy, and alchemy with medicine. Starting in 1609 he gave lectures and practical laboratory instruction on materia medica and the chemical and mineralogical preparation of medicines in the “laboratorium chymicum publicum” at Marburg. In the same year he was appointed professor of medical and pharmaceutical chemistry, in effect the first such professorship in Europe. He was several times dean and rector of the University of Marburg and was also very successful in his scientific work. By 1616 ten of his students had earned the doctorate. Following disputes with the university and the landgrave, Hartmann moved in 1621 to Kassel—nominally retaining his professorship—and became court physician, a post he lost as a result of the abdication of Landgrave Moritz in 1627. Until his death in 1631 Hartmann was professor of natural science and medicine at the new University of Kassel, which had offered courses for four years before its official opening in 1633.

Hartmann’s importance is in having introduced pharmaceutical and medical chemistry into the university and in having given practical instruction in it. This new field, which had been developed in the works of Paracelsus and his disciples, was then emerging from alchemy. Yet Hartmann did not fall into alchemical speculations; instead, he sought to mediate between the Galenists and the iatrochemists. He left few writings on the practical aspects of the subject, and most of his works appeared posthumously. A glimpse of his activity is given by a laboratory journal for the year 1615.

As a physician Hartmann was not especially successful. His nickname “Theophrastus Cassellanus” derives from his Paracelsian-chemical activity. There is no doubt that his Hermetic philosophical ideas had a considerable influence during 1614-1626, which even his contemporaries called the “Rosicrucian” period; and his views, a union of animistic and vitalistic notions, reached far beyond his native land, carried by friends and students including Oswald Crollius, Johann Daniel Mylius, and Johannes Rhenanus. In addition, he corresponded with English and Polish iatrochemists and with alchemists in Prague. The many editions of his principal work, Praxis chymiatrica, testify to the respect that contemporaries accorded to this textbook of pharmaceutical chemistry.


I. Original Works. Hartmann’s works were collected as Opera omnia medico-chymica, Conrad Johrenius, ed. (Frankfurt, 1684; 1690), also translated into German (1698). His individual works include Disputationes elementorum geometricorum (Kassel, 1600); ’Eπιφvλλιδες sive miscellae medicae cum πρoϑηkη chymico therapeutica doloris colici (Marburg, 1606); Philosophus sive naturae consultus medicus, oratio (Marburg, 1609); Disputationes chymicomedicae quatuordecim (Marburg, 1611; 1614), also translated into English as Choice Collection of Chymical Experiments (London, 1682) and into German as Philosophische Geheimnisse und chymische Experimenta (Hamburg, 1684); Praxis chymiatrica (Leipzig, 1633; Frankfurt, 1634; 1671; Geneva, 1635; 1639; 1647; 1649; 1659; 1682; Leiden, 1663; Nuremberg, 1677), also translated into German as Chymische Arzneiübung (Nuremberg, 1678); and Tractatus physico-medicus de opio (Wittenberg, 1635; 1658). In addition, Hartmann prepared an edition, which was finished by his son, G. E. Hartmann, of Oswald Crollius’ Basilica chymica (Geneva, 1635) and works of Joseph Duchesne (Quercetanus). Under the pseudonym Christopher Glückradt he commented on the Tyrocinium chymicum of J. Beguin (Wittenberg, 1634, 1666).

II. Secondary Literature. The following, listed in chronological order, may be consulted: Andreas Libavius, Examen philosophiae novae (Frankfurt, 1615), which discusses Hartmann’s ideas on vital and Hermetic philosophy; and Appendix necessaria syntagmatis... (Frankfurt, 1615), with the ch. “Censura philosophiae vitalis Joannis Hartmanni”; Friedrich W. Strieder, Grundlage zu einer hessischen Gelehrten- und Schriftstellergeschichte, V (Kassel, 1785), 281-289; John Ferguson, Bibliotheca chemica, I (Glasgow, 1906; repr. London, 1954), 365, 366; Wilhelm Ganzenmüller, “Das chemische Laboratorium der Universität Marburg im Jahre 1615,” in Angewandte Chemie, 54 (1941), also in Ganzenmüller’s Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technologie und der Alchemie (Weinheim, 1956), pp. 314-322; Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, VIII (New York-London, 1958), 116-118; Rudolf Schmitz, “Die Universität Kassel und ihre Beziehung zu Pharmazie und Chemie,” in Pharinazeutische Zeitung, 104 (1959), 1413-1417; J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, II (London-New York, 1961), 177-178; Rudolf Schmitz, “Naturwissenschaft an der Universität Marburg,” in Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft zur Beförderung der gesamten Naturwissenschaften zu Marburg, 83-84 (1961-1962), 12-21; and Rudolf Schmitz and Adolf Winkelmann, “Johannes Hartmann (1568-1631) Doctor, Medicus et Chymiatriae Professor Publicus,” in Pharmazeutische Zeitung, 111 (1966), 1233-1241.

R. Schmitz

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