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Agricola, Georgius [Georg Bauer]

1. Dates
Born: Glauchau, Germany, 24 Mar 1494
Died: Chemnitz, 21 Nov 1555
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 61
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan, Merchant
His father was probably Gregor Bauer, a dyer and woolen draper.
3. Nationality
Birth: Glauchau, Germany
Career: Chemnitz, Germany
Death: Chemnitz, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: B.A., Leipzig; Bologna, Padua; M.D.
Various schools in Glauchau, Zwickau, and Magdeburg (1511).
1514, matriculated at the University of Leipzig. Received a B.A. in 1515.
1523, returned to Leipzig to study medicine under Heinrich Stromer von Auerbach.
1524-6, studied in Bologna, Venice, and probably Padua. When he returned to Germany he is said to have had an M.D., though I don't know yet where from.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Metallurgy, Mineralogy, Medicine
Subordinate: Pharmacology
Famous for De re metallica, (posthumous, 1556), and De natural fossilium, 1546.
He was a pioneer in the study of the diseases of miners. As a result of the plague, he published De peste, 1554.
He studied the pharmacological uses of minerals.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Merchant, Magistrate
Secondary: Academic Appointment, Schoolmaster, Church Living
1515-17, a lecturer in elementary Greek at Leipzig.
1517, chosen as ludi moderator, and then rector extraordinarius (1519), at the school at Zwickau. These positions have been called equivilant to vice principal and principal.
1523, to support him during his second period of study he was endowed with a prebend of the St. Erasmus altar for three years by the council of Zwickau.
He spent three years at Bologna and Venice as a member of the editorial staffs of the Aldina editions of Galen and Hippocrates.
1527-30, he was elected town physician and apothecary of St. Joachimstal, Czechoslovakia.
1533, he returned to Chemnitz to be town physician. His knowledge of mining allowed him to speculate in mining shares, which he did with great success. By 1542 he is said to have been one of the 12 richest inhabitants of Chemnitz. He was elected Burgher, and appointed mayor for 4 one-year terms (1546, 1548, 1551, & 1553), and was sent on numerous diplomatic missions (more under patronage).
1551, he visited St. Joachimstal for a few weeks and gave a 5000 taler credit to the Counts Schlick to promote prospecting.
8. Patronage
Types: Court, City Magistrates
Duke Henry of Brunswick consulted with him on mining matters.
Georg the whiskered appointed him historiographer to the court of Saxony, apparently with hoping to discover territorial claims on territories of hiers-at-law. Agricola spent twenty years working on this problem off and on.
Far and away his greatest patron was Georg's successor Duke Moritz. Most of his books are dedicated to Moritz or his successor Augustus. In 1543, Moritz presented him with a house and plot in Chemnitz, and granted him special exemptions from municipal laws. Agricola was called to special diplomatic and advisory service in 1546, after the war of Schmalkalden had broken out. Thereafter, Argricola was heavily involved in the Duke's diplomacy, making him a rare Catholic representative at the protestant court. He attended the Diet of Freiburg (1546), the Council of Dresden (1546), the Diets of Leipzig (1547, 1549, & 1553), the Diets of Torgau (1550 & 1555), the Diet of Leipzig (1553), and the Diet of Dresden (1553). He was also sent on diplomatic missions to the Emperor Charles and King Ferdinand of Austria. In addition Moritz appointed him mayor of Chemnitz four times (1546, 1548, 1551, & 1553). However, after Agricola died, Moritz, sensing religious tensions, ordered that his burial in the parish plot at Chemnitz, an honor traditionally conferred on mayors, be denied.
Through the intervention of his old friend Julius von Pflug, bishop of Zeitz-Naumberg, he was interred at the cathedral at Zeitz. (I do not list this.)
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Metallurgy, Medicine, Pharmacology
He practiced medicine as town physician to two towns. It is noted that he worked day and night during the plague of 1551- 1552.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Guembel, Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 1, 143-145.
  2. Christian Gottlob Joecher, Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexicon (Leipzig, 1750-1751; repr., Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1960) 1, 149-150.
  3. Johann Christoph Adelung, Forsetzungen und Ergaenzungen zu Christian Gottlieb Joechers allgemeinem Gelehrten-Lexicon (Leipzig, 1784-1897; repr. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1960) 1, 323-324.
  4. Herbert Clark Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover, intro. to Gregorius Agricola, De re metallica (The Mining Magazine, 1912; repr. Dover, 1950) [TN617.A341] Helmut Wilsdorf, Georg Agricola und seine Zeit [Gregorius Agricola - Ausgewaehlte Werke, vol.1] (Berlin: Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1956). [QE362.A27 v.1]
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Georg Agricola, Bermannus (Le mineur). Un dialogue sur les mines, ed. and trans. Robert Halleux and Albert Yans, (Paris, 1990).
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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