Cervantes’ father, Rodrigo, was a surgeon-physician médico zurujano, an occupation somewhere between physician and barber. Unlike barbers, the zurujanos had academic training and knowledge of anatomy and medicine, which is why they performed the more complex procedures. Barbers, little more than folk healers, concentrated for the most part on wound-dressing and bloodletting. The physician ranked on a comparably higher level; his superior social status and training afforded him a larger clientele.
The objects on show in this room allude to his profession: surgical instruments such as lancets for bloodletting (an all-purpose treatment designed to release the disease-provoking humours, supposedly found in the blood); jars with herbs; cupping glasses, a still, etc. In the centre of the room is the wooden surgical chair for bloodletting procedures, modelled on Philip II’s gout chair in the Escorial Monastery.
A small Mudejar-style cupboard contains articles typical of apothecaries’ establishments of the epoch, because physicians and surgeons would sometimes make up their own preparations: apothecary’s jars from Talavera or Puente del Arzobispo; small earthenware jars; pillboxes; 16th and 17th century mortars for crushing medicines with the aid of a pestle, which are decorated with embossing and compartmentalized legends.
Work carried out to strengthen the walls of Rodrigo de Cervantes’ pharmacy brought to light remains of tempera wall paintings, with inscriptions in Gothic lettering and curtain ornamentation in Renaissance motifs. These paintings, which formed an integral part of the room’s decoration, provide valuable evidence of the house’s existence in the late 16th century.