Friday, 26 October 2012

King Francis I of France demands a Jewish doctor

But the most powerful Argument in my Opinion to this Purpose is, that when Francis de Valois King of France was seized with a very tedious Sickness, and that the Physicians of his House and Court could give him no Ease, he said every time the Fever returned, that it was not possible for any Christian Physician to Cure him, and that he expected from them no Relief. Insomuch that one time being Impatient to find himself every day worse with his Fever, he ordered a Courrier to be dispatch’d to Spain, to desire the Emperor Charles the Fifth, to send him a Jew Doctor, the best of all his Court, from whom he hoped to receive a Remedy for his Distemper, if there were any in the Art.  There was no little Laughing in Spain at the Request, and all concluded that it was no other than the Conceit of a Man in a Fever. But for all this the Emperor was not wanting to give Order that such a Physician as was required, should be sought after, if he were to be found, though he were out of the Kingdom, and when none could be met withal, they sent him a Physician newly turned Christian, hoping thereby to comply with the King’s Curiousity. But the Physician being arrived in France, and brought to the King’s Presence, there past between them a most agreeable Dialogue, wherein was discover’d, that the Physician was a Christian, and therefore the King would take no Physic at his Hands. The King from the Opinion he had conceived of the Physician’s being a Jew, asked him by way of passing the time, if he was not as yet weary of expecting the Messiah promised in the Law? The Physician answered, Sir, I expect not the Messiah promised in the Judaic-Law. You are wiser for that replied the King, for the Signs set down in the Scripture to know his Coming are already accomplished a great while ago. The number of days (rejoined the Physician) we Christians keep well the Account of, for there are now a Thousand five hundred fourty and two Years determined since he came; he abode in the World Thirty three Years, at the end of which, he died on the Cross, and rose again the third Day, after which he ascended into Heaven, where he now Reigns. Why, saith the King, you are a Christian! Yes, Sir, by the Grace of God, answered the Physician. Then, said the King, be gone to your own Country in good time, for I have Christian Physicians enough in my own Court and House. I took you to be a Jew, who in my Opinion are those that have a Natural Ability for Cures. And so he took leave of him without allowing him to feel his Pulse, or examine his Urine, or mingle the least word concerning his Distemper. And forthwith sent to Constantinople for a Jew, who recovered him only with Asses-Milk.

Juan Huarte. Examen de ingenios; or, The tryal of wits. 1698. Pages 293-295

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