Caspar Schamberger

Caspar Schamberger (1623 in Leipzig, Germany - 1706) was a German surgeon His name represents the first Japanese school of Western medicine and the beginning of Dutch Studies (rangaku) in Japan.

In 1637 Schamberger started studying surgery under a master surgeon in his native town of Leipzig. In 1640 Schamberger finished his study of surgery and started traveling through Northern Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. In 1643 he joined the Dutch East India Company, signing a contract for four years of service. He left Europe in the same year aboard the "Eiland Mauritius", but the ship wrecked four months later near the Cape of Good Hope.

In July 1644 Schamberger finally arrived in Batavia, the Dutch capital in colonial Indonesia. The next few years he traveled around Asia, visiting Portuguese Goa, Ceylon, Gamron and Kismis (Persia), to return to Batavia again in 1646. In 1649 he arrived in Nagasaki and began his service at Dejima, the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki. Later that year he traveled to Edo together with a Dutch special envoy. Because of the serious illness of the shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, their audience was postponed several times. During that time, Schamberger treated various patients, attracting the attention of high government officials and was thereafter requested to look after high ranking patients.

After the audience with the shogun, the envoy returned, but four Europeans were requested to stay in Edo to give further instructions: Schamberger (surgery), Willem Bijlevelt (mathematics), Juriaen Schedel (mortar shooting), and Schedel's assistant Jan Smidt. In October 1650, the four left Edo for Nagasaki, only to return again a month later for the yearly obligatory visit of the Dutch trading post chief, so socalled “Hoofreis”.

In April 1651, the Dutch entourage left for Nagasaki again. That November, Schamberger's service at Dejima ended, and he returned to Batavia. His interpreter, following orders from the governor of Nagasaki, reported on Schamberger's surgical art, leading to the birth of the so-called “Caspar-style-surgery" ("Caspar-ryû geka"), the first Western-style school of medicine inspired by a surgeon stationed in Dejima.

In 1655, Schamberger returned to the Netherlands, traveling back to Leipzig a few weeks after. In 1658 he acquired citizenship in Leipzig and started a new career as a merchant. He married three times: to Elisabeth Rost in 1659, to Regina Maria Conrad in 1662, and to Euphrosine Kleinau in 1685. In 1667 his son Johann Christian Schamberger was born. Johann later became a Professor of Medicine at Leipzig University and was elected president twice. One of his greatest achievements was the foundation of the "New Anatomical Theatre".

In 1706, Schamberger passed away, only to be followed shortly after by his son.

Schamberger's name stands for the beginning of a lasting interest in Western style medicine that gradually led to the upcoming of the socalled Dutch Studies (rangaku) in premodern Japan.

References

* [Wolfgang Michel: Von Leipzig nach Japan - Der Chirurg und Handelsmann Caspar Schamberger. Iudicium, Muenchen 1999.]


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