Variolation from the Balkans ‐ Through Romanian Territories ‐ to Western Europe, 1678‐1802

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Octavian Buda

(‘Carol Davila’ University of Medicine and Pharmacy Bucharest)

“Variolation from the Balkans ‐ Through Romanian Territories ‐ to Western Europe, 1678‐1802”




Evidence of variolation and vaccination practiced by peasants in the Balkans is provided by physicians who used these techniques as well as foreigners who visited this region. After fall of the Byzantine Empire, Greek families settled in or travelled toWallachia and Moldavia, contributing to local social and medical emancipation. Inthese two countries, Phanariot rulers initiated an “Early Enlightenment”,strengthening Balkan “koinonia” and encouraging both national and WesternEuropean values and medicine. Nikolaos Mavrocordatos (1680‐1730), the firstPhanariot prince and the humanist owner of a famous library including medicalbooks, wrote against tobacco abuse. His wife preceded Lady Montague in variolatingher children. Emanuel Timonis (1669‐1720) of Chios, the Ghika family’s doctor,described variolation at the London Royal Society. Jakob (Giacomo) Pylarino (1659‐1718) published in Venice the first scientific approach to variolation, a method healso presented to the “British Philosophical Transactions”, and which Romaniansappeared as subject. Finally, a Court physician, Pylarino encouraged medicaleducation and hospital building in Wallachia. In 1715 he published “Nova et tutta variolas excitandi per transplantationen methodus” in Venice, reprinted in 1821 at Nuremberg and Leyda. His work was of peculiar value as it disseminated the method of variolation to Western Europe.

Short Bio

M.D. Graduation at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy ‘Carol Davila’ - Bucharest, 1992. Master of Arts in Philosophy at the University of Bucharest, 1997, Graduate Thesis: Karl Jaspers’ Anthropology and Political Philosophy.Ph.D. Postgraduate (Doctor in medical sciences) at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy ‘Carol Davila’ - Bucharest, 2001 Doctoral Thesis: Forensic and Psychopathological Criteria of Irresponsibility.

Since 1994, Reseacher at the Forensic Psychiatry Department of the National Institute of Legal Medicine ‘Mina Minovici’, Bucharest.
Since 2005, Senior forensic psychiatrist at the same department
Young Investigator Awardee of the 14th Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences (IAFS) - Tokyo, 1996
Posterprize winner of the German Society of Legal Medicine, 79th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Legal Medicine - Essen, 2000
Volkswagen Fellow - Konferenz der Deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften at the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry of the Charité - Free University of Berlin, 1998
Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Brookes University, UK, 2008

Research Interests: 
Forensic psychiatry, the social history of forensic medicine and psychiatry, history of medicine, epidemiology, criminology and forensic psychoanalysis, cultural and psychiatric anthropology, medical epistemology, and intellectual history.





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