Louis Frank (1761-1825) : A physician addicted to Orient

Louis FRANK (1761-1825) : A physician addicted to Orient

 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.

 In Egypt

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.

 In Tunisia

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

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 Corfu

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 [1816] 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"..




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Date de dernière mise à jour : 20/09/2014

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