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1. Dates
Born: Villefranche, ca 1621
Died: Paris, 15 October 1699
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 78
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
No information. Fontenelle says only that the family was "honnetes." In any event they died at a young age and Boudelin was brought to Paris.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: No University
Apprenticed under master apothecaries in Paris.
He did not attend a university and did not have a medical degree.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed).
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Chemistry, Pharmacology
His importance lies in his having made clear to some of his contemporaries and to his successors that progress in chemical knowledge required use of less antiquated experimental methods and the elaboration of hypotheses as guidelines for research.
He spent more than 30 years on research in chemical analysis.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Government, Patronage
After having completed his apprenticeship, he purchased an apothecary's license from the house of "Monsieur" (the king's brother, the Duke of Orleans). For some twenty years he held two offices in the house of Monsieur: that of assistant apothecary to Monsieur and the officers of his household, and that of apothecary to the stable. The impression is given that Bourdelin worked, not so much for the Duke of Orleans, as for the personal apothecary of the Duke. Boudelin also held the titles of "Aide-apothecaire du Corps du Commun" (salary of 600 livres), and "apothecaire de l'Ecurie" (salary of 60 livres; the apothecary whom he assisted made 1800 livres.) Obviously this case is hard to categorize, but after discussion I categorize it as patronage.
In the Orléans household he apparently had regular commerce with powerful men, one at least of whom became his patron. No name is mentioned, but this was the critical factor in his being named to the Académie.
Bourdelin became a member of the Académie in 1666. He did research in the Academy's laboratory from 1667 to 1686, and worked at home (authorized) after 1687.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Unknown
As I said above, his relation with the household of the Dukes of Orleans sounds like patronage to me. The unknown patron is the one who promoted a mere apothecary, who was not even the head apothecary in the Duke's establishment, to became a member of the Académie.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Pharmacology, Medical Practice
He practiced medicine as an apothecary, a common arrangement in that age.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Académie Royal des Sciences, 1666-1699
He was a member apparently from the original organization of the Académie, working with DuClos on the analysis of Royal mineral water.
  1. Paul Dorveaux, "Les grand pharmaciens. Apothecaires members de l'Académie royale des sciences" in Bulletin de la Societe d'histoire de la pharmacie, Aug. 1929, pp.290-298.
  2. Fontenelle, "Éloge de M. Bourdelin," L"Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, 1699, p. 151-2.
  3. Dictionnaire de biographie Française, 6, 1437.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. A. Birembaut, "Le laboratoire de l'Academie royale des sciences," Revue d'histoire des sciences, 1969. This article is listed in DSB, but we have not been able to locate it in the Revue or in the Isis critical bibliographies.
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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