An Austrian Lady's Medical Manual

[Medical manuscript]. (Anna) Maria Magdalena Winkler, née Seeauer, burgher of Ischl, Austria (1668-1745). Ein sehr nützlicheß unnd approbiertes Artzenney-Puech, inn welchem sehr guette Stuckh zu unndterschiedlichen Khranckheiten und Zuestanndten zu fündten seinn. Anno 1688. Maria Magdallenna Winckhlerin gebohrne v. Seeau gehörig.

[Ischl], 1688.

German manuscript on paper (watermark: crowned double-headed eagle, counter-sign CH), probably by two or three different hands. 196 unnumbered ff. with 197 written pages. Contemporary half vellum with remains of ties, 4to (158 × 200 mm). Loosely inserted between the leaves are 9 slips of paper in various sizes, some folded and written on several sides, containing additional recipes (including the remainder of a letter, addressed to the book's owner in Ischl), as well as a strip of cotton cloth from the 17th or early 18th century.


An extensive, privately compiled medical manuscript, owned and in all likelihood largely written by a patrician lady from Ischl in the Austrian Salzkammergut region. The recipes contained appear to some extent based on popular tradition, but more frequently on Paracelsian sources and generally on the Paracelsian-inflected pharmacology and chemical medicine of the Renaissance. A relevant example is provided by the very first recipe, "daß gerechte Froschlaichpflaster" - a frogspawn bandage on a white lead basis, as it was frequently applied by surgeons as early as the 16th century to advance wound healing: "Froschlaich 2 lb., Baumöll 1½ Virting, Wein Essig 3 loth. Lass es mit ein andter sieden bis die Feichtigkeith verraucht und nur daß Öll verbleibe, dan du mues es hernach durch ein [Sieb] durchseihen, daß die schwartzen Eier in und ander Unflath darvon weg khumbt, hernach due darein Bleyweis 8 loth, Bleyzucker 2 loth, lass es wider ein wenig sieden und du must alleweil riechen, damit du es nicht verbrenest, so dan duehe darein Weißwax 1½ Vierting, lass es wider ein wenig sieden, und hernach von Feurer gethan thue darin Weisses Vitriol 1 loth, Rohen Alaun ½ loth, Ca[mp]her 2 Quintl, riche so lang bis es kalt wirdt, hernach mach Zapfen darauß, due es reecht mit Öll wo gaffer darein ist und zächs recht endereinander, so dan ist es bereith." This is followed by "daß gerechte Fontonell Pflaster" (a bandage for the fontanelles) and "Jungfrau Milch" (virgin's milk), then - after several blank leaves - a series of recipes concerning the head, including "das edle Khopff Bulffer" ("the noble cephalic powder"), "fier die Pluet Schuß im Khopf" ("for when blood rushes to one's head"), "fyer das Haubt Wehe der Khinter" ("for children's headaches"), "Wann ein Personn verwüret ist in Haubt" ("when a person is confused in his head"), "fuer den Wuremb im Khopf" ("for the worm in the head"), "füer den großen Khopf Wehe" ("for the severe headache"), etc. Among the further recipes are "ein khöstliches Wuntt Trankh" ("a delicious wound potion"), "Khrafft Wasser vor den Schlag" ("strong water for a stroke"), "Etles Trisanet Pulver, vor den Schlag, vor Schwacheit des Herzen, Bletigkeit des Mang, der Löber" ("noble trisanet powder for strokes, weakness of the heart, and ailments of the stomach and the liver"), "Inwendig grosse Hizen" ("great inner heat"), etc. Other recipes concern the internal organs and respiratory tract ("Räynigung des Mangs", "Geschwollen Mangen", "Wer hart umb Prust", "Vor Huesten", "Vör Lung- und Lebersucht, Huesten, auch Stäckhen auf der Prust"), gynecology and obstetrics ("Wann ein Frau nit gebehren khan", "Wann das Khünntt nit kan ledig werten", "Von Mangel der monatlichen Zeit"), as well as dentistry ("Vor Zahn Wehe", "Zahn ohne Schmerzen herauszunemben", "Vor Munntfeille"); also, recipes for emetics ("Vor Erbrechen daß der Mangen nichts behalte") and for various ointments ("zu den Prysten", "vor Reissen und Grimmen"), tapeworms ("vor Wuremb im Leib"), enemas ("Von Clystier- und Purgiern"), and "how to push the intestines back into the body when the bowels have fallen out" ("so einen der Leib Tarmb ausgeht, den Layb Darmb hinein zu bringen"). Some recipes reveal the scientific limits of their age (one captioned "vor Anwax ter Khüntter", intended to make children grow faster, is essentially a rose ointment to be soaked in a cloth which is bound on the child's head); others fall into the province of the quasi-magical ("Krumpe und lammbe Gliter zu haillen, es wirt die selbe verzaubert, und also gemacht worten, mit der Hilffe Gotes abzuhelfen", "Wahrer Gebrauch und Nuzung des Pulvers des Lebens"). Although several hands appear to have contributed to this manuscript, a large part is unquestionably by the writer of the title page, whom we may identify with its owner. Maria Magdalena Seeauer, born on 7 June 1668, was descended from the well-known dynasty of Ischl salt loaders who can be traced to the 14th century. She was a daughter of the local salt loader, alderman and judge Simon Seeauer (1615-1704) and sister of Johann Ignaz Seeauer (1661-1709), who succeeded his father in all his offices. Ten days after her 19th birthday Maria Magdalena married, in Ischl, the 36-year-old Johann Richard Winkler from Grieskirchen; she began compiling the present recipe book the following year. She died in her native city on 9 March 1745, having survived her husband by 27 years.

Binding somewhat rubbed; paper insignificantly browned. Nine leaves in the book's interior show slight worming, occasionally barely touching letters, but altogether clean and unstained, uncommonly well preserved for a manuscript apparently kept in constant use. The piece of cotton cloth inserted between two leaves likely represents the authentic type of a cloth bandage used for applying ointments in the early 18th century.

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