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Bellini, Lorenzo

1. Dates
Born: Florence, 3 September 1643
Died: Florence, 8 January 1704
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 61
2. Father
Occupation: Merchant
He was born to a family of small businessmen.
No information on financial status. However, it may be pertinent that his education was financed by the patronage of the Grand Duke.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italy
Career: Italy
Death: Italy
4. Education
Schooling: Pisa, M.D., Ph.D.
He attended the University of Pisa, where he studied philosophy and mathematics with some of Italy's leading scientists, most notably Giovanni Alfonso Borelli.
M.D. and Ph.D., 1663.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Bellini was accused of impiety and atheism well along in his career. For a time he lost the favor of the Grand Duke.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physiology, Anatomy, Medicine
Considered a founder of Italian iatromechanism, Bellini was a pioneer in applying mechanical philosophy to the functions of the human body. His early interests were anatomy and physiology. The first essay he published, Exercitatio anatomica de usu renum(1662), was an important study of the structure and function of the kidneys. This essay contains his anatomical discovery that in the supposedly unorganized parenchyma there is a complicated structure composed of fibers, open spaces, and densely packed tubules opening into the pelvis of the kidney. His De urinis et pulsibus et missione sanguinis (1683) was the first important attempt by an Italian systematically to apply the mechanical philosophy to medical theory. The Opuscula aliquot, published in 1695, developed his earlier iatromechanical themes most fully, trying to expain all important physiological phenomena according to the law of mechanics.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Patronage, Medicine
Professor of theoretical medicine at Pisa, 1663-1668.
Professor of anatomy, 1668-1703.
First physician to Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany, ca. 1693- 1704.
As a result of the charges of atheism, Bellini lost favor with Ferdinand II and lost his academic position. He lived for a time on his practice alone. When Cosimo succeeded Ferdinand, he appointed Bellini as his personal physician. And Bellini was even medical consultor to Pope Clement XI.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Scientist, Eccesiastic Official, Aristrocrat
He benefited from the patronage of Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany from his early youth. Under the Grand Duke's protection, he attended the University of Pisa, and later with the Grand Duke's assistance he obtained a chair of anatomy at Pisa.
Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany. See above.
Bellini published Gratiarum actio ad Ser. Hetruriae Principem, 1670. His first work (1662) was of course dedicated to the Grand Duke.
Redi, the medical examiner of the Grand Duke, was Bellini's friend and mentor; to him Bellini dedicated his work De urinis.
Bellini became medical consultor to Clement XI through the efforts of G.M. Lancisi (a prominent medical scientist).
Sen. Pandolfini, who inherited Bellini's manuscripts, erected a tomb for him. Although I have not learned more about their relation, it had to fit into the patronage system.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Active friendship with Francisco Redi, beginning in 1660s.
Active friendship with Malpighi, beginning in 1676.
His De urinis seems to have been inspired by Thomas Willis' and Borelli's earlier works.
Archibald Pitcairne, a Scots mathematician and physician, praised Bellini's general theory of disease, and urged him to develop further some of the ideas contained only in compressed form in De urinis. Bellini reacted favorably to Pitcarine's encouragement, and he devoted the next few years to his last set of essays, which he dedicated to Pitcarine and published in 1695 as Opuscula aliquot. Largely through the influence of Pitcarine he enjoyed an international reputation.
Admitted to the Arcadia (Rome) in 1691.
Accademia della Crusca.
Adelmann's Malpighi gives a good indication of the extent of the network of correspondence that included Bellini.
  1. Dizionario biografico degli italiani, VII, Rome, 1965, pp.713- 716. CT1123 .D62 RF. ROOM Howard Adelmann, Marcello Malpighi and the Evolution of Embryology, 5 vols., Ithaca, N.Y., 1966. QL953 .A22
  2. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 1, 61-3. In the copy I have, vol. 1 is from the second ed, (1932) and vol. 2 from the first (1928). I gather that pagination in the two editions is not identical.
  3. G.M. Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori d'Italia, (Brescia, 1753- ), 2, pt. 2, 686-90.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Augusto Botto-Micco's article in Rivista di storia delle scienze mediche e naturale, 12 (1930), pp.38-49.
  2. M.A. Mozzi, "Vita di Lorenzo Bellini," Accademia degli Arcadi, 1 (1708), 113-22.
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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