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Dodoens, Rembert

1. Dates
Born: Malines (Belgium), 29 June 1516. Varenbergh and Van Leersum give the date as 29 Feb. 1517.
Died: Belgium, 10 March 1585
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 69
2. Father
Occupation: Merchant
Dodo Joenckema (Dodoens name derived from his father's first name) was probably a merchant. Though not noble, the household was comfortable, and the family was connected to the Frisian nobility through a number of marriages.
I take the world "comfortable" to mean affluent. Dodoens did inherit enough property to generate a living income.
3. Nationality
Birth: Belgium
Career: Belgium
Death: Belgium
4. Education
Schooling: Louvain, M.D.
He studied at the municipal college of Malines and went from there to the University of Louvain, where he studied medicine under Arnold Noot, Leonard Willemaer, Jean Heems, and Paul Roels. He graduated as licenciate in medicine in 1535.
Between 1535 and 1546 he traveled in Italy, Germany, and France. In Paris he met the anatomist Jean Gunther d'Andernach.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed from all sort of evidence during his career).
The only serious evidence against his Catholicism would be his late appointment to Leiden. Van Leersum asserts categorically that at that time an appointment in Leyden did not yet demand Calvinism.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Botany, Medicine, Pharmacology
Among his many publications, the Stripium historiae pemptades sex sive libri XXX, published in full in 1583, was the most important scientific work. In this work, he divided plants into 26 groups and introduced many new families, adding a wealth of illustration.
Initially Dodoens' interest in plants was weighted heavily toward their medicinal uses, and this aspect never completely left his botany.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Patronage, Personal Means
Secondary: Government, Academia
1548-74, municipal physician of Malines. In 1572, with the sack of Malines, Dodoens lost his holdings.
1557, the city of Louvain courted Dodoens with a chair in botany at the university, but negotiations fell through. They offered a salary of 200 florins. At this time, Dodoens' private holdings generated enough income for a decent living, and he also had a prosperous practice. All of this was destroyed in the sack of Malines in 1572.
1574-80, physician to the emperor Maximilian II, and then to Rudolf II, in Vienna. His salary was 200 ducats. He was also named counsellor "aulique."
1580-1, he lived in Cologne treating a wealthy clientele.
1581-2, he lived in Antwerp, presumably practicing medicine.
1582-5, professor of medicine in Leiden University at the high salary of 400 florins.
8. Patronage
Types: City Magistrate, Court Official, Government Official, Eccesiastic Official
He was one of the three municipal physicians of Malines for 26 years.
His first book, Historia frumentorum, was dedicated to Viglius, president of the Council of State, Dodoens' friend and protector.
His second book was dedicated to Joachim Hopperus, master of petitions and counsellor to Philip II of Spain. When Philip needed a new physician, Dodoens was the first choice. Hopperus wrote to Viglius on his behalf. But Dodoens did not want to move so far away. The offer to be Philip's physician was repeated periodically.
Dodoens dedicated his third book, Purgantium aliarumque (1574) to Philip.
He dedicated his Cruydeboeck, 1534, to Marie of Hungary, regent of the Low Countries.
He dedicated other books the the Elector Daniel, Archbishop of Mainz, and to Lambert Gruterus, Bishop of Naples and Chaplain to the Emperor.
He was appointed physician to the emperor Maximilian II and then to Rudolf II.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. E. Varenbergh's article in Biographie nationale publiée par l'Académie Royale des Sciences,des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, 4, (Brussels, 1878), cols. 85-112. CT1163 .A2
  2. E.C. Van Leersum, "Rembert Dodoens", Janus, 22 (1917), pp. 141- 152.
  3. F.W.T. Hunger, "Dodonée comme botaniste", Janus, 22 (1917), pp.152-162.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Van Meerbeeck, Recherches historiques et critiques sur la vie et les ouvrages de Rembert Dodoens, (Malines, 1841).
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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