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Botallo [Botalli, Botal], Leonardo

1. Dates
Born: Asti (Piedmont), ca. 1519
Died: possibly Chenanceaux or Blois, 1587 or 1588
Dateinfo: Both Dates Uncertain
Lifespan: 68
2. Father
Occupation: Gentry
Botallo was from a noble family. Careri says the family was probably noble. This certainly sounds like what I call gentry.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Asti, Italy
Career: Italy, France
Death: possibly Chenanceaux or Blois, France
4. Education
Schooling: Pavia, Padua; M.D.
Having studied and obtained a degree in medicine at the University of Pavia, he continued his studies for a time at the University of Padua under Gabriele Falloppio. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Medicine, Surgery
His name is associated with Botallo's duct and Botallo's foramen. Through his observation, he discovered or independently rediscovered that the blood's passage from the right to the left side of the heart in the fetus was by way of the foramen ovale cordis (Botallo's foramen). His discovery was published in De catarrho commentarius (Paris,1564). He also observed the arterial duct from the pulmonary artery to the aorta that also carries his name. Note that he was not the original discoverer of either of these features; he does appear to have been an independent discoverer of them. He also published other works in anatomy and medicine.
Botallo was the major advocate who effectively introduced blood letting as a medical treatment into France.
He published one of the pioneering works on the treatment of gunshot wounds, as well as other works on surgical practice.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Patronage
He practiced medicine in Asti before 1544, and joined the French forces in Italy as a military surgeon in 1544. In 1560 he was already located in Paris as one of the physician of Charles IX, having been called by Catherine de' Medici, his enduring patron. He had a regular stipend of 400 livres and apparently received other payments.
Sometime before 1575 he became physician to the Duke of Anjou, later Henry III. At various times he was also physician to Elizabeth of Austria, Louise of Lorraine, William Duke of Brabant, the Duke of Guise, and Prince William of Orange.
Mazzuchelli says that he was appointed Bishop of St. Malo. Careri says that this is not documented and no one else mentions it. However, Henry III made him a counsellor and conferred honorary ecclesiastical positions, from which he could have the income, on him. There is documentary evidence that he held the Abbacy of Notre Dame de Change.
Near the end of his life, Botallo was apparently in economic straits. (Note that he did not enrich himself.) Catherine de' Medici took steps to insure that he had enough money. She had him confirmed in the Abbacy of Notre Dame de Chage, a position he was able to pass on, during his life but not after his death, to a nephew who was a cleric. Catherine de' Medici wrote a number of letters for him in her own hand, some to the King, wanting to be sure that one who had served her well was not neglected.
8. Patronage
Types: Court, Aristrocrat
Charles IX. See above.
The queen's mother, Catherine de' Medici, was instrumental in having his service transferred to her favorite son, the Duke of Anjou, later Henry III. Catherine was his enduring patron.
Note the various members of the uppermost aristocracy whom he treated.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Instruments
He appears to have developed an instrument for trapanning the cranium.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
There was an extensive circle of physicians around the French court, not all of them in harmony with Botallo.
  1. Leonardo Careri, Leonardo Botallo astese, medico regio, (Asti,1954).
  2. G.M. Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori d'Italia, (Brescia, 1753- ), 2, pt. 3, 1868-9.
  3. Nouvelle biographie générale.
  4. A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Voelker (3rd ed., Munich, 1962).
  5. P.A. Saccardo, "La botanica in Italia," Memorie del Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 26 and 27 (1895 and 1901).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Mario Truffi,"Leonardo Botallo sifilografo" In Minerva medica,(1955), varia, 34-42.
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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