Francesco Torti and the intermittent fevers.

F. Lopiccoli, Theoretical medicine and practical medicine in the early 18th century: Francesco Torti (1658-1741) and the debate on the therapeutic use of quinine against intermittent fevers, Doctoral Thesis directed by Bernardino Fantini, University of Geneva, 2019.

Dario Generali

The research illustrates the figure of Francesco Torti, his therapeutic approach and his stance in favour of china-china (today quinine) for the treatment of intermittent (today malarial) fevers.
Particular attention is paid to reconstructing the debate between the 17th and 18th centuries on the therapeutic efficacy of china-china and the initial phase of its penetration and use in Europe. In this perspective, the discussions raised by the new therapy are accounted for, with particular regard to the controversy that pitted Torti against Bernardino Ramazzini, who was partly against its widespread use.

Torti’s therapeutic empiricism is also outlined, as well as his adherence to the modern iatro-mechanical perspective, which did not, however, exclude his interest in iatro-chemistry.

The Appendix provides an edition of some documents and, in particular, the Riflessioni sul sistema del Sig. Vitali, e sopra i rimedi proposti, which are effective in outlining the fundamental principles of Torti’s medicine.

His therapeutic pragmatism explicitly admits ignorance of the causes of intermittent fevers and their epidemic spread in certain contexts, and focuses instead on the efficacy of the therapy, empirically ascertained, and on a precise method for administering it.

[online 17/04/20]