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Acosta, Jose de

1. Dates
Born: Medina del Campo, Spain, c.1540
Died: Salamanca, 15 Feb. 1600
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 60
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Spanish
Career: Spanish
Death: Spanish
4. Education
Schooling: Alcala, D.D.
Secondary school at local Jesuit college.
Univ. of Alcala. Must have earned B.A. He went on to teach theology in Jesuit colleges and according to one account was offered a place in the Collegio Romano. As a full Jesuit he had to have had a doctorate in theology.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic. Jew
The family were converted Jews.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Natural History, Geography
Subordinate: Natural Philosophy
All of this connected to his Historia natural y moral de la Indias, 1590.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
Acosta was a Jesuit from the age of 26, having been a novice since 12.
After university, he taught in Jesuit colleges in Spain.
At his own request, sent to New World, in 1572. He was in Peru for fourteen years where he fulfilled various duties for the order. He taught. Ultimately be became the second Provincial of the order in Peru.
From Peru to Mexico where he stayed a year.
Back to Spain in 87. For the rest of his life he was in various positions for the Jesuits. When he died, he was the Rector of their college in Salamanca.
8. Patronage
Type: Court
When he returned to Spain, Acosta reported at length to Philip II, whose approval, with finanical support, he won for the Jesuit college in Lima. In general, he won the favor of the court. The first publication of his book was dedicated to Philip, and the Spanish edition to the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, Philip's much beloved daughter. Acosta's account of the Provincial Council of Lima, over which he presided, was published at Philip's order. He went to Rome as an emissary of Philip to seek a general congregation of the Jesuit order, to consider the problems of the order in Spain.
Upon his first trip to Rome (after returning from the New World), Acosta returned to Spain as emissary of the General to the King of Spain. He also won the confirmation of the Jesuit college in Lima by the Pope. (I do not list this.)
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Jose Maria Lopez Pinero, Ciencia y tecnica en la sociedad espanola de los siglos XVI y XVII, (Barcelona: Labor, 1979), 1, 293-5.
  2. José Maria Lopez Piñero, et al., Diccionaria historico de la ciencia moderna en España, 2 vols. (Barcelona: Ediciones Peninsula, 1983). Biographical articles in Diccionario enciclopedico hispano- americano, Enciclopedia universal ilustrada, and Gran enciclopedia RIALP.
  3. Francisco Mateos, "Introduccion," Obras del P. Jose de Acosta, (Madrid: Atlas, 1954).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. L. Lopetegui, El P. Jose de Acosta y las missiones, (Madrid, 1942). Barbara Beddall, "Father Jose de Acosta . . ." introduction to the Historia, (Valencia: Cultural, 1977).
  2. Jose Rodriguez Carracido, El P. José de Acosta y su importancia en la literatura cientifica española, (Madrid, 1899).
  3. Fermin Del Pino-Diaz, "La renaissance et le nouveau monde: Jose d'Acosta, jésuite anthropologue (1540-1600), Homme, 32 (1992), 309-26.
  4. E. Alvarez Lopez, "La filosofia natural del Padre José de Acosta," Revista de Indias, 17 (1942), 5-12.
  5. S. Jarco, "Origin of the American Indian as Suggested by Fray Joseph de Acosta," Isis, 50 (1959), 430-8.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University
Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.
©1995 Al Van Helden
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