Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei

Autore: BERENGARIO DA CARPI, Giacomo (ca 1460-1530)

Tipografo: Girolamo Benedetti

Dati tipografici: Bologna, 1518

4to (208x150 mm). CV, [1] leaves. Collation: A6 B-Z4 AA-CC4: A1r title and woodcut, A1v preliminary verse and letters by various authors, A3r dedication to Lorenzo de' Medici, A3v introduction, A6r text, CC1v letter to the reader, CC2r index, CC3r errata, CC3v colophon, register and printer's device, CC4 blank. Roman type throughout, title in gothic. Anatomical woodcut of the cranium on the title-page, 21 woodcut illustrations of surgical instruments, 2 large woodcut initials, and numerous other smaller initials. 17th-century stiff vellum, later morocco lettering-piece on spine. On the front pastedown engraved bookplate of Umberto Calamida; on the title-page stamp of Ferdinando Palasciano. Title-page slightly soiled and foxed in the margin, small light stain caused by the stamp to the following four leaves, some marginal staining and foxing, but all in all a very good, genuine copy with good margins and a few contemporary marginal annotations.


RARE FIRST EDITION of the first monograph on head injuries and their neurosurgical treatment.

In 1517 Berengario was called to attend Lorenzo de' Medici who had suffered a gunshot wound and an occipital skull fracture in battle. The Tractatus was written as a result of the assignment “in little more than two months, soon after Berengario return to Bologna, and dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici. It opens with a short discussion of various sorts of skull fractures, followed by a grouping of the consequent lesions according to their symptoms… Berengario was able to cite from contemporary knowledge or from his own direct observation the relationship between the location of the lesions and the resulting neurological effects. Next, he discusses prognosis, diagnosis, treatment, the instruments to be employed, and the technique of craniotomy. Berengario's book was the most original neurosurgical treatise until then and was not surpassed until the appearance of Ambroise Pare's similar work in 1562” (C.D. O'Malley, Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo, in: “Dictionary of Scientific Biography”, C.C. Gillispie, ed., I, New York, 1970, p. 618).

The son of the surgeon Faustino Barigazzi, Berengario received the first training in anatomy from his father and possibly some classical education from Aldus Manutius, who spent 8 years in Carpi, Berengario's hometown, between 1469 and 1477. Subsequently, Berengario entered the medical school of the University of Bologna, graduating in 1489. In 1502 he was appointed lecturer in surgery at Bologna. By then he had acquired a considerable fame as surgeon, especially as military surgeon. He soon also acquired popularity as a teacher, and under the pontificate of Julius II and Leo X he was often called to Rome or Florence for medical consultation. In 1525 he went to Piacenza to assist Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, whose leg had been hit by a cannon bomb. In 1526 he spent several months in Rome to assist Cardinal Pompeo Colonna. Upon his return to Bologna, he was dismissed from his position at the university and retired to Ferrara. During his career he published several works of his own or other physicians, mainly to support his teaching.


Edit 16, CNCE5418; Garrison-Morton, 4850.2; Norman, 186; V. Putti, Berengario da Carpi saggio biografico e bibliografico, Bologna, 1937, pp. 136-37; Durling, 531; D.S.B., op. cit., pp. 617-621.