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Louis FRANK (1761-1825) : A physician addicted to Orient
André-Julien Fabre September 10, 2010
Louis Frank came from a French family keeping roots all over Europe : They lived in Belgium, Germany and Austria. An uncle, Dr. Jean-Pierre Frank, had been physician of the Royal Court of Russia
In Milan with Bonaparte
Louis started in 1780 his medical studies in Germany, at the University of Göttingen, but soonly went to Italy, at the Medical School of Pavia. Having completed in 1798 his studies, Louis roamed all over Italy on a Sabbatical Leave. In 1796 he was in Milan attending the triumphal entry of Bonaparte at the head of the French Army. Louis was so fascinated that he tried, during several days, to meet his idol, but in vain.
Louis had always been attracted by Orient : therefore, he decided, in 1797, to visit Egypt. In autumn, Louis arrives in Cairo and, after few weeks, rents a felucca sailing up the Nile until Aswan.
Unfortunately, in July 1798, the French Army lands in Alexandria and Louis is brutally thrown in jail as all other Europeans living in Egypt at that time. Bonaparte's victories get him out of prison and, as soon as free, he takes contact with Vivant Denon, leader of the French Scientific Mission, in order to obtain an appointment with General Bonaparte. The meeting is quite positive : Louis becomes Head Physician of the Military Hospital in Alexandria and will remain at this post until the leave of the French troops in 1801.
Back in Paris, Louis tries vainly to contact again Bonaparte and, finally, decides, without any official support to leave Paris and sail to …Tunisia. Arrived in 1801 in Tunis, he is appointed, with help of a local friend, as personal physician to the tyrannical Bey, Hammuda Pasha. Life was not always easy for Louis : he recalls a trivial incident with a Guard at the Bardo when the Moor replied: "... what is a Christian dog and, after all, Bonaparte compared to our sublime Bey ...? However, Louis had to stay five full years there
Return to Italy
From Paris, Louis goes to Venice. then roams some months along Dalmatian roads heading to Albania
In Albania, Louis tries, as he always did, to obtain a post of Court physician. His only chance left is to be appointed in 1805 by the sadly famous Ali Pasha of Janina, the governor of Epirus known for his atrocities but also his close friendship with Lord Byron. Mediterranean world of this time stood widely open for adventurers : in Janina Louis Frank met Pouqueville who had just been appointed Consul there
In 1810 Louis returned to France for a brief period: it did not take long to go eastwards, this time in Corfu, as Physician in the hospital. Corfu had been occupied by the French since the Treaty of Campo-Formio becoming, some time later, a French Département, the Département du Corcyre. However, In 1815, England takes possession of the Ionian Islands and there was no other choice for Louis than return to Paris
Once more in Paris
After the fall of Napoleon, political situation had become highly perilous for Louis. Only one place was safe for him : Vienna where the old uncle was living
Last stop In Austria
Shortly after his arrival Louis gets married with an Austrian girl and begins his quest to find a post at the Court ,he becomes in 1816 Private Physician of the former Empress Marie Louise, now Archduchess of Austria. In 1817 he became Head Physician of a Psychiatric Institution and opened a medical school in Wien. He dies in Simmering in 1825
Accounts on the Life in XIXth century Orient
Louis Frank left a fascinating document on the life in Orient : "Description of Tunis  by Dr X, former Physician of the Bey of Tunis, the Pasha of Ioannina, and the Army of Egypt
He was one of the most picturesque characters gathering around Bonaparte during the Egypt Expedition and will remain as an emblematic figure of the great Orientalist Movement which shattered all Europe at that time : the last words of Lamartine, the great XIXth century poet were : "I am born Oriental and Oriental I shall die"..
Date de dernière mise à jour : 20/09/2014