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Brunfels, Otto

1. Dates
Born: Mainz, Germany ca. 1489
Died: Bern, Switzerland 23? Nov 1534
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 45
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan
He was a cooper.
No firm information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: German
Career: German
Death: German
4. Education
Schooling: Mainz, M.A.
Secondary: received his early education in Mainz.
University: 1508/9, M.A from U Mainz.
Late 1532, M.D. from Univ. of Basel (this I won't list).
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic, then Lutheran ("Lutheraner mit wiedertäuferischem Einschlag")
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Botany (Primary)
Subordinate: Medicine, Pharmacology
He translated older works and wrote on herbal pharmacology.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Living, Schoolmaster,
Secondary: Governmental Position, Medical Practice
1508 or 1509, entered Carthusian monsatery in Strasbourg.
1521, left the monastery (and Catholicism); through Ulrich von Hutten, "one of Luther's principal defenders," obtained a curacy in Steinau; religious persecution soon forced him to flee.
July 1522 - March 1524, preacher (Prediger) at the Stadtkirche of Neuenberg; stayed in the Franciscan monastery there ("konnte ... Unterkunft finden").
1524, returned to Strasbourg and opened his own school (DSB).
Took a teaching position at the Carmelite school at Strasburg, held it until beginning of 1532 (Grimm).
Between 1530 and 1532, moved to Basel (DSB).
3 Oct 1533, appointed town physician in Bern for 6 years.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, City Magistrate
He was aided by Ulrich von Hutten.
The Neuenburg position was legally in the gift of Austria, but the town council had the right to nominate the officeholder.
While in Neuenberg B. wrote "Lectiones sive annotationes aliquot hebraica" on the Old Testament and dedicated it to a distinguished man in Heitersheim: "Joanni Warmundio patroni et pretori integerrimo atque nobilissimo presidi in Heytersheim amico optimo Otho Brunfelsius."
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Pharmacology, Medical Practice
He compiled practical pharmacological texts to be used by physicians and apothecaries, including the city ordinance for apothecaries in Bern.
Apparently also medical practice.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Informal:while in Strasbourg, associated with the local humanists, one of whom, Johann Schott, printed many of his books.
He collaborated with Jerome Bock and Leonhard Fuchs.
Extensive correspondence.
  1. Heinrich Grimm, in Neue Deutsche Biographie, 2, 678.
  2. Erich Sanwald, Otto Brunfels 1488 - 1534: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Humanismus und der Reformation: I. Hälfte 1488 - 1524, (Bottrop, Germany, 1932). -- Stacks BR 350 . B8 S2 -- mostly about his religious activities
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Stannard says biographical information is meager and ultimately derived from the preface of Brunfels' Annotationes in Quatuor Evangelia -- this work is not in the library.
  2. Karl Hartfelder, "Otto Brunfels als Verteidiger Huttens," Zeitschrift für die Geschichte des Oberrheins, n.s. 8 (1893), 565-78.
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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