Publisher Information: Basel: Froben, 1556.
Amatus Lusitanus [Rodrigues de Castelo Branco, João] (1511-68). Amati Lusitani, medici physici praestantissimi, curationum medicinalium centuriae quatuor . . . Folio. , 406,  pp. Basel: Froben, 1556. 305 x 203 mm. Limp vellum ca. 1556, remains of leather ties, upper extremity of spine chipped, light wear. Very good copy. Inscriptions in an early hand on the title (crossed out) and leaf a8v (dated 1558) indicating that this copy was once in the library of the monastery at Quintin in Brittany; “Vignanitus pharmacopoeia parisiensis” in a different early hand at the foot of the title. Annotations in several early hands in the text.
Amatus Lusitanus (also known as João Rodrigues de Castelo Branco) was probably the most significant Jewish physician of the 16th century, although he remains one of the lesser-known medical authors of that era. A native of Castel Branco in Portugal, he was a descendant of a Jewish family named Chabib (beloved), which translates into Latin as Amatus; the second part of his Latin name, Lusitanus, means “of Portugal.” His parents were Marranos—Spanish or Portuguese Jews forced to convert to Christianity—but Amatus was apparently raised in the Jewish faith, which he professed openly in the last years of his life. He practiced medicine in Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece, building a reputation as one of the most skilled physicians of his day—a remarkable accomplishment for a Jew in an era marred by anti-Semitism and religious persecution.
In 1551 Amatus published the first of his “Centuriae,” a collection of 100 case histories taken from his medical practice; the seventh and final “Centuria” appeared in 1561. The 1556 Basel edition we are offering contains the First Editions of A matus’s third and fourth “Centuriae,” and is also the First Collected Edition of the first through fourth “Centuriae.” The bibliographical history of the “Centuriae” is complicated, as the later collections were usually published with reissues of the earlier ones. This copy of Curationum medicinalium centuriae quatuor is from a 16th century French monastic library and contains annotations in several early hands. Rare—This is the first work by Amatus that I can recall handling in more than 50 years of trading.
The 70th case history in Amatus’s third “Centuria” contains the first recorded case of purpura as a separate entity, not associated with fever (Garrison-Morton.com 3049). Purpura is a skin condition that may be associated with platelet disorders, vascular disorders, coagulation disorders, typhus, meningitis, and other causes.
The 52nd case history in the first “Centuria” (see Garrison-Morton. com 12945) contains Amatus’s famous account of his discovery of the valve in the azygos vein, which took place (probably in 1547) while he was conducting anatomical research with Giambattista Canano at the University of Ferrara. This case history represents “the first publication bearing on the important discovery of the valves of the veins, in the 16th century” (Friedenwald, p. 626), and marks an important step in the path leading to the discovery of the circulation of the blood. Amatus noted that “the azygos vein does not return the blood which it receives from the vena cava; on the contrary it is so constructed at the orifice where it joins the vena cava, that there is a definite valve here, which holds back the blood . . . if you blow air into the lower part of the azygos, the vena cava will not be inflated; it is not possible for the air to escape on account of the valve or operculum mentioned” (quoted in Friedenwald, p. 625). Neither Amatus nor Canano recognized the significance of this discovery, as both subscribed to Galen’s erroneous theory of blood flow. Dictionary of Scientific Biography. H. Friedenwald, “Amatus Lusitanus,” Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine 5 (1937): 603-653.Book Id: 45525