Johann Crato von Krafftheim

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Johann Crato von Krafftheim (copper engraving from the 16th century by Theodor de Bry)

Johannes Crato von Krafftheim , actually Johann (es) Krafft , also Crato von Crafftheim and Latinized Johannes Cratonis (born  November 20 or 22, 1519 in Breslau ; † October 19, 1585 ibid), was a German humanist and doctor .

Origin and education

Crato von Krafftheim was born as Johann Krafft . He was the son of the craftsman and councilor Christoph Krafft and a student at the St. Elisabeth and Maria Magdalena grammar schools in Breslau . Because of his excellent academic achievements, he received a scholarship of 20 guilders per year from the Wroclaw City Council  and grants from Wroclaw patrician families, which enabled him to start studying.

Study and stay in Wittenberg

From 1535 Crato studied theology at the University of Wittenberg and lived in Martin Luther's household for six years . There he got to know Philipp Melanchthon , under whose influence he studied the classical languages in detail . After his patron Johannes Metzler died in 1538 , Melanchthon referred him to Ambrosius Moibanus . In 1542 he finished studying Artes Liberalis with a master's degree . During his time in Wittenberg he kept a diary that J. Aurifaber used for the "Tischreden und Colloquia D. M. Luthers" published by him in 1566 and through which Crato is known to this day.

On Luther's advice, which advised him against a theological career, he began to study medicine in Leipzig in 1543 . In 1544 he temporarily accepted the position of court master with a Count von Wertheim in Leipzig. During this time he made friends with Joachim Camerarius the Younger .

Study of medicine and stay in Italy

With the support of the Breslau Council and recommendations from Philipp Melanchthon and Joachim Camerarius, Crato studied medicine at the University of Padua from 1546 . He became a student of the famous medicine professor Johannes Baptista Montanus , who had a decisive influence on Crato's first writings. Crato completed his studies with a medical doctorate , then went on a trip through Italy with his friends Johann Baptist Hainzel and Paul Hainzel and then practiced for a short time in Verona .

Medical activity and further life

In 1550 Crato returned to his hometown of Wroclaw and was appointed second city ​​physician . In the same year he married Maria Scharff von Werth († June 3, 1585), the daughter of the Breslau city clerk Johannes Scharf von Werd, and started a family. The parents had a son and two daughters.

In 1553 Hubert Languet visited him . Crato achieved great merit during the plague epidemic of 1554, after he had already drawn up a "plague ordinance" in 1553. He was one of the first to recognize the contagious nature ( contagiousness ) of the plague. For his self-sacrificing work, the City Council of Wroclaw granted him an annual salary of 100 thalers. He had to treat city servants and poor students in vain.

Around 1560 his sister got engaged to the Leipzig professor of jurisprudence Kaspar Jungermann (1531–1606) (father of Ludwig Jungermann ). Although Crato's reputation soon spread across Germany, in 1561 the then acting councilor Hans Morenberger relieved him of his work as a doctor for the poor because he was suspected of being a Calvinist . His conversion from Catholic to Protestant had already attracted attention.

1560 he was summoned to the imperial court in Vienna and the personal physician of Emperor I. Ferdinand appointed. As the emperor became increasingly ill, he moved to Vienna in 1563, but returned to his family in Breslau after the emperor died in 1564. A year later he was appointed the first personal physician of Emperor Maximilian II , whom he served for 11 years.

In 1567, Crato was raised to the nobility by Emperor Maximilian II, who rewarded him generously and showered him with honors , and one year later he was appointed Imperial Palatine . In his work as Count Palatinate, he lent letters to:

Crato had a high degree of the emperor's trust, which he used for the benefit of the Calvinists. That is why the court Jesuits did not succeed in winning Maximilian II over to fight Protestantism. As a representative of the milder melanchthonic-Calvinist direction, Crato fought the followers of Matthias Flacius .

As a result of the intrigues prevailing at court, Crato, who was a staunch advocate of orthodox medicine, had to experience that an Ulmer quack woman was called to the bedside of the dying emperor. After his death in 1576 he was - like all Protestants - dismissed from the Prague court service and returned to Breslau.

As early as 1577 the court felt compelled to call Crato as personal physician to the sick Emperor Rudolf II . Although ill himself, he moved to Prague again in 1578 in order to be close to the emperor at all times. He soon suffered from the growing influence of the Jesuits, and he tried to be released from court service. In the autumn of 1581 his application was granted. He retired to his Gut Rückers in the county of Glatz , which he had acquired in 1567, and founded a Reformed congregation with a church and preacher there. He intended to spend the rest of his life on the estate and had his library moved there from Prague.

“He was also on good terms with the most learned people of his time , such as Joachimo Camerario , Conrado Gesnero , Theod. Kennel , Zach. Virsino , Henrico Stephano , Joanne Sambuco , Paulo and Aldo Manutio II , Petro Victorio and others. "

Since he wanted to continue to participate in the lively scientific life, he returned to Breslau in 1583 and left the estate to his son. His neighbor in Breslau was Andreas Dudith . Despite his age and illness, he continued to work as a plague doctor for the general public in Wroclaw, but had to experience that his own wife died of the disease. He himself followed her on October 19, 1585.

The Rückers estate was inherited by his son Johann Baptist von Krafftheim. He was married to Anna von Heugel, to whom the estate passed after she had become a widow.

First corpse section known in writing

The first section , documented in writing, was carried out by Crato von Krafftheim and the court surgeon Petrus Suma on October 13, 1576 in Regensburg on the corpse of Emperor Maximilian II. The protocol of the dissection was signed by the Regensburg doctor Fabricius and certified by the notary Linda. The entrails of the emperor were placed in a gilded copper cauldron, which was buried on the Gospel side of the high altar in Regensburg Cathedral. A memorial stone with the imperial crown, Maximilian's monogram and the year 1576 still marks this place today. The emperor's heart was put back in the coffin in a precious box. However, it can be doubted whether it was a dissection in the scientific-anatomical sense. It served primarily to prepare the corpse for the pious custom of leaving a part of the body in the place with which one had a special relationship.


  • Idea doctrinae Hippocraticae , 1554
  • Methodus therapeutica ex Galeni et JB Montani sententia , Basel 1555
  • Order or preservation at the time of the plague , Breslau 1555
  • Isagoge medicinae , Venice 1560
  • Perioche methodica in libros Galeni , Basel 1563
  • De morbo gallico commentarius , Frankfurt 1564
  • Mikrotechne, seu parva ars medicinalis
  • Order of the preservation: How to present oneself at the time of infection, also report how the right pestilentz is discovered and curated . - Now, however, everything has been diligently overlooked, and corrected - Franckfurt am Mayn: Feyerabend, 1585. Digitized edition of the University and State Library in Düsseldorf
  • Commentarii de vera praecavandi et curandi febrem pestilentem contagiosam ratione (translated by Martin Weinreich)
  • Consilia et Epistolae medicinales , 1591, 1592, 1593 and a.
  • Ioannis Cratonis A Krafftheim ... Epistola Ad Ioannem Sambvcvm Med. Doct. Consiliarivm Et Historicvm Caesarevm De Morte Imperatoris Maximiliani Secvndi. Nvnc Primvm Edidit / Christ. Godofred. Grvner . Litteris Mavkii, lenae 1781 Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eis, Gerhard, "Crato von Crafftheim, Johannes" in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 3 (1957), p. 402 f. [1]
  2. a b Werner E. Gerabek: Crato von Krafftheim. 2005, p. 277.
  3. ^ Anton Meyer (Ed.): Leaves of the Association for Regional Studies of Lower Austria and Vienna. Vienna 1877, p. 317 [2]