The Galileo Project
site map

Erastus [Lieber], Thomas

1. Dates
Born: Baden, Switzerland 7 Sept. 1524
Died: Basel, Switzerland 1 Jan 1583
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 59
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan
In regard to his education it is stated that Erastus came from a poor family.
3. Nationality
Birth: Swiss
Career: German and Swiss
Death: Swiss
4. Education
Schooling: Basel; Bologna, M.D.; Padua
Studied theology and philosophy at Basel 1540 - 1544. I assume B.A.
Studied medicine at Bolgna and Padua 1544 - 1555. MD 1552 from Bologna.
One account refers to an unnamed and wholly unidentified "Maecenas" who made possible Erastus' medical education. Erastus was from a poor family.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist
Calvinist (or better, Reformed, or Zwinglian) "Erastian": anti-Calvinist on this issue; the state has supremacy in all ecclesiastical affairs.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Natural Philosophy And Medicine
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Academia
Secondary: Patronage
Sucessful medical practice.
1555 at Meiningen, physician to Count William of Henneberg.
1558, became professor of medicine at Heidelberg and physician to the Elector.
Already in 1559 he was elected Rector of the university.
1580 his Erastianism led to a fall from the favor of Frederick III, elector Palatine; left Heidelberg for Basel, where he became professor of theology and moral philosophy.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Court Official, City Magistrate
Count William of Henneberg.
Frederick III of the Palatine before he fell from favor.
Dedicated a book to three Basel Ratsherrn.
The theologian J.J. Grynaeus, who had married the sister of Erastus's wife, took them in when they emigrated from Heidelberg and helped Erastus get the appointment at Basel Univ and acceptance by the Collegium medicorum.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
Informal: correspondence with various medical men.
Formal: Basel Collegium medicorum.
  1. J. Karcher, "Thomas Erastus (1524 - 1583), der unversöhnliche Gegner des Theophrastus Paracelsus," Gesnerus, 14 (1957), 1 - 13--mostly about his time in Heidelberg with just a little about Basel.
  2. M. Adam, Vitae Germanorum Medicorum, (Heidelberg, 1620), 242 - 246.
  3. Allgemeine deutsche Biographie.
  4. Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin, 1952- ).
  5. DSB gives other sources on his science and theology.
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
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.