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Percivall Pott's disease of the spine, discussed in two letters of J. Hunczovsky from London, 1779, to G. A. Brambilla in Vienna.

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Education
  • Medicine


Texts and Docwnents PERCIVALL POTT'S DISEASE OF THE SPINE, DISCUSSED IN TWO LETTERS OF J. HUNCZOVSKY FROM LONDON, 1779, TO G. A. BRAMBILLA IN VIENNA GIOVANNI ALESSANDRO BRAMBILLA (1728-1800),1 to whom these two letters are addressed, was Body Surgeon (Leibchirurg) to the Emperor Joseph II (1741-90). His appointment in fact dates from 1764, the year before the widowed Empress Maria Teresa (1717-80) invited her young son, then the Archduke, to share the Imperial throne with her. In 1778 Brambilla, trusted and esteemed by his sovereign, was appointed Chief Staff Surgeon (Oberstabschirurg) and in 1779 Sole Superintendent of the Army Health Service. Thus he, who had entered the Imperial Army as a simple Secondary Surgeon (Unterchirurg), was now in a position to realize his great dream of creating ex novo a surgical academy of university status.2 He devoted particular care to the recruitment and training of the teaching faculty. For this purpose he selected certain young men of particular promise, awarded them grants for study abroad and placed them in the most outstanding teaching hospitals of other countries, above all in London and Paris. The first of the instructors thus qualified was a Czech, Johann Hunczovsky (1752- 98)3 who, after about three years' study abroad, returned to Vienna towards the end of 1780 and published there in 1783 his Medicinisch-Chirurgische Beobachtungen auf seinen Reisen durch England und Frankreich, besonders ueber die Spitdler, ilus- trated with a portrait of Brambilla, to whom the work was dedicated. One of the book's most substantial chapters-and one of the longest4-is con- cerned with St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London which Hunczovsky had frequented in 1779, and where he came particularly under the influence of Percivall Pott (1714- 88). Twelve pages of the Beobachtungen5 are devoted to one of the diseases associated with Pott's name, as a result of his publishing in that very year 1779, in London, a monograph entitled Remarks on that Kind of Palsy of the L

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