The Apothecarys Apprentice


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Or, if you are already a subscriber Sign in. Close drawer menu Financial Times International Edition. Search the FT Search. World Show more World. US Show more US. Her ambitions were to improve the health care system and to set up a new study plan for medicine. Looking for an appropriate personality for such an undertaking, she addressed the Catholic Gerard von Swieten, a native-born Dutch and disciple of Herman Boerhaave, a famous medical teacher at the renowned University of Leiden.

It was not surprising that Maria Theresia sent for a famous doctor from the United Netherlands as her personal physician and reformer for her health care system, because, in the 18 th century, the United Netherlands were very progressive in comparison to the Central European territories of the Habsburgs. According to his initial contract, van Swieten held the position of a personal physician to Maria Theresia and the Imperial Family, he was Protomedicus the Chief Physician of the Court and the prefect of the Court Library.

However, he quickly gained the full confidence of the sovereign. The different unsalaried functions that he had taken over since show clearly the great influence that he had already gained in health care.

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He was promoted to superior supervisor for civil and military health care issues of the empire, to Dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna, and to president of the court commissions responsible for censorship and studies. He fervently advocated the improvement of medical education at the University of Vienna. By appointing foreign doctors with great medical knowledge as professors at the University, he was able to force open the rigid medieval structures of the University and to replace the backward medical training in Vienna with the more modern medicine taught in Western Europe.

He fulfilled his task of reforming medical education and establishing a centralist public health care system to the utter satisfaction of Maria Theresia. In a supplement to this bill was released which contained very important passages regarding the apothecary issues.


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This extensive sanitary bill implemented the first uniform health care system in the empire and applied to all territories of the Habsburg Empire [ 8 , 9 ]. Gerard van Swieten was not only educated as a medical doctor, he also had full training as an apothecary.

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He started his career as an apothecary in when he became an apprentice in a pharmacy in Amsterdam. Some years later he worked as a fully trained apothecary in Leiden, where he was admitted as a member of the Collegium Pharmaceuticum. In , he started his university career when he first enrolled in the philosophy faculty of the University of Leiden.

Only later he changed to the medical faculty, where he finished his medical studies in five years. This was far above the average time of two years of study. As van Swieten was an excellent student, the most feasible explanation for his many years of study might have been his concurrent profession as an apothecary. He needed his apothecary work as a means of subsistence but he also recognised it as a sensible supplement to his medical studies [ 10 ].

He installed a new chair for botany and chemistry and appointed Robert Laugier as first professor for this professorship in In earlier apothecary ordinances only the length of the apprenticeship, personal qualifications such as knowledge of reading, writing and Latin, creed or legitimate birth were considered to be important. Those ordinances did not include any directives for academic education. In this sanitary bill of one important paragraph focussed on education, saying that each owner of a pharmacy had to be examined at a university located within the territory of the Habsburg Empire.

To take the exam at the University of Vienna was an advantage for the examinee, because this allowed him to acquire a pharmacy at any place in the whole empire [ 4 ]. One of the outstanding professors at the University of Vienna was Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, who succeeded Robert Laugier in the chair of botany and chemistry. Jacquin was a renowned scientist whose main scientific interest was in the field of botany.

Among others, he published major volumes devoted to the flora of Austria, the West Indies and the Americas, which contained artistically valuable illustrations of plants. It replaced the Viennese Dispensatory, which had been in force since For the first time, this new pharmacopoeia applied to all territories of the Habsburg Empire. In , an improved edition of the Pharmacopoea Austriaco-Provincialis was released and used until The Pharmacopoea Austriaco-Provincialis had a modern pharmacopoeia concept.

In addition, obsolete recipes had been eliminated and the number of recipe constituents reduced [ 11 ]. He was entrusted with the superintendence of the inspections carried out each year in the Viennese pharmacies. Before having set up the chair of botany and chemistry in , all theoretical knowledge had to be acquired in private studies. In Vienna had 11 apothecaries who were organised in a board.

There are some indications that a community of interest had already existed in earlier times. An explicit sign that an apothecary board had already existed in the first half of the 18 th century are remaining board meeting minutes dating back to The foundation of apothecary boards in the entire empire was finally decreed in in the amendment to the sanitary bill of The disbandment of the board resulted from a scandal in connexion with a delivery of falsified and inferior remedies for the Austrian army.

Joseph II was, on one hand very angry about this incident, but, on the other hand, he took this opportunity to disband the board and clear the way for setting up badly needed new pharmacies in Vienna. In the same year the emperor put the Viennese Medical Faculty in charge of the pre-inspections of such newly founded pharmacies [ 13 ]. This liberalization of pharmacy foundations by assigning a personal right to an appropriate person to open a pharmacy led to an increase in pharmacies, particularly outside the city walls of Vienna, and to greater competitive pressure among the Viennese apothecaries.

Due to the lack of an apothecary board, the Medical Faculty of Vienna could again assure its right of supervision. In , the Medical Faculty was authorized to assess the professional quality of each candidate who wanted to open a pharmacy by a personal concession [ 14 ].

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As the missing apothecary board had negative effects on the Viennese pharmacies, Emperor Franz II reintroduced the apothecary board in and decreed concurrently a new ordinance for the apothecary board. This ordinance not only regulated the rights and duties of the apothecaries but also included new instructions for the apothecary examinations.

According to this ordinance, the influence of the Viennese Medical Faculty as supervisor of the apothecaries had declined, at least regarding the exams. Hence, the two presidents of the board and two selected apothecaries gave the exams. The Medical Faculty was not represented anymore by physicians but only by the notary of the Medical Faculty, who acted as chairman of the commission. In this ordinance the education of the apprentice was also more clearly specified.

Complying with this bill, they had to attend the university lectures and take exams about them. The apothecary board was entrusted with more rights. The board now had the right to evaluate the knowledge of the apprentice and to decide over his promotion to journeyman [ 15 ]. The ordinance for the Viennese apothecary board not only influenced the Viennese pharmacies but also affected other apothecary board ordinances in different parts of the empire.

As early as , it was compulsory for the apothecary and his apprentice to follow the catholic religion [ 2 ]. In this restriction was eased for those apprentices following the protestant religion who could show credibly that they would convert in due time to Catholicism [ 16 ]. In contrast, the employment of a journeyman did not necessarily depend on his catholic beliefs [ 2 ]. Later, in the sanitary bills of and , no more religious restrictions were imposed [ 17 ]. Despite the restrictions for non-Catholics, it must have been possible for Jews to acquire a pharmacy at that time. They had a bad reputation which was even recorded in an apothecary privilege decreed in by Emperor Leopold.

This privilege contained the information that a lot of evil comes from Jewish pharmacies, because they sell harmful medicines. Therefore, they are not allowed to dispense medicines to Christian people. Only among themselves were they allowed to distribute their medicines. Maria Theresia amended and annotated this privilege in , but the passage regarding the Jewish pharmacies was neither changed nor commented [ 18 ]. Maria Theresia was a devout catholic and had a negative attitude toward Jews, which she revealed in some of her legal orders. Van Swieten seemed to have a similar approach because he, for example, disapproved of Jews at the university [ 19 ].

Later, under the rule of Joseph II the policy regarding Jews changed and even affected the apothecary business. However, in an explicit interdiction for Jews to run pharmacies was put into force [ 21 ]. This restriction had lasted for 31 years and was only overruled in by an order of the Ministry of the Interior [ 22 ]. The Jews finally got all rights of Austrian citizens by the constitutional law of , which granted all citizens equal rights, irrespectively of their creed [ 23 ].

In the 19 th century the apothecaries had to meet new challenges such as the rapid development in chemistry and the introduction of new synthetic drugs. However, the apothecaries of the Habsburg Empire were poorly prepared to meet those new requirements. The lectures in chemistry were still held by physicians of the Medical Faculty who could not communicate the necessary special knowledge. Any alterations in the curriculum for pharmacists were not considered of primary importance and, therefore, the education of the apothecaries was only modified when changes in medical studies occurred.

In new academic regulations for medicine did away with all private studies, a situation which also had consequences for the apothecaries. You will get your revenge on Greely and the others, after what they did to your Master. We hope you, Christopher, decide to come. I read this with delight. Finally, someone who could help and understand me.

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And help me get rid of the Alphas for once and for all. I packed my best potions, ingredients and bottles in one large bag. Then, I set of. This was my destiny. I knew it. I arrived with pleasure at the Phantom Castle. Two guards hovered there, each with spears in the slimy tentacles. One look at me and they moved away from the door they were guarding. I had a good feeling about this; treated with royalty already. I padded into the first hall, and saw a map.

While gazing at it for a moment, I figured that the letter didn't contain which room I would meet the lead commander. Suddenly, a voice spoke Phantom behind me. Luckily, I had learnt the language of them. I whipped round to see a larger phantom with scars covering parts of his octopus-like body. I spoke back in Phantom. He drifted over to a door and opened it.

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Beyond, I could make out some mossy stairs, with patches of grime on them. There were at least fifty flights of stairs, and, eventually, me and Kirith arrived to the bottom. He lit up a nearby torch and infront of me held thousands of well-designed cages, stacked upon each other, each with an animal inside.

I grinned. This was perfect. Kirith opened a nearby cage, which held a mint cream coloured bunny in, and grabbed it by the ears. It tried the squirm free, but the phantom held his grip.

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