Tillmann Taape

Hieronymus Brunschwig and the Making of Vernacular Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

My doctoral project in History of Science at the University of Cambridge focuses on the works of the Strasbourg surgeon and apothecary Hieronymus Brunschwig. Published around 1500, they were the first books on surgery and pharmaceutical distillation to be printed. Brunschwig was more craftsman than scholar. He wrote and probably read in the German vernacular rather than Latin, and his books are marked by an emphasis on manual skill and artisanal experience as well as theoretical learning. My thesis situates Brunschwig’s works in their local context of artisanal culture, medical practice, and humanist thought to investigate how they combine different forms of knowledge to consolidate their disciplines of healing in printed manuals, how they negotiate the boundaries of medical practice, and how they intervene in the politics of vernacular print and learned expertise at the eve of the Reformation. I am also developing a postdoctoral project on the history of distillation as a technical means of production as well as a tool for understanding nature, the cosmos and the microcosm of the human body.