Nicolaes Tulp - Career As A Physician

Career As A Physician

The career of Dr Tulp matched the success of Amsterdam. As the population of Amsterdam grew from 30,000 in 1580 to 210,000 in 1650, Dr Tulp's career as a doctor and politician made him a man of influence. He drove a small carriage to visit all the patients. Thanks to his connections on the city council, in 1628 Tulp was appointed Praelector Anatomiae at the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons. His wife died in the same year, leaving him with five young children. In 1630 he remarried the daughter of the mayor of Outshoorn and she bore him three children.

It was Dr Tulp who examined and signed the fitness reports for the first Dutch settlers on the island of Manhattan, and his signature was found on these in the long-lost archives of the Dutch settlement uncovered in the 1980s in the basement of the New York public library.

In his job, Tulp was responsible for inspections of apothecary shops. Chemists in Amsterdam had access to an enormous amount of herbs and spices from the East, thanks to the new shipping routes. It became a successful trade and in 1636 there were 66 apothecaries in Amsterdam. Shocked at the exorbitant prices asked for useless anti-plague medicines (Amsterdam was severely hit by the plague in 1635), Dr Tulp decided to do something about it. He gathered his doctor and chemist friends together and they wrote the first pharmacopoeia of Amsterdam in 1636 the Pharmacopoea Amstelredamensis. The Apothecary guild would require an exam based on Dr Tulp's book in order for new chemists to set up shop in Amsterdam. This pharmacopoeia became a standard work and set an example for all the other cities of Holland.

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