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Fabrici [Fabricius, Fabrizi], Girolamo

1. Dates
Born: Acquapendente, c. 1533
Died: at his villa, La Montagnola, outside of Padua, 21 May 1619
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 86
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat
His father was Fabrico Fabrici. The family is said to have been noble and once-wealthy, but in decline at the time of Fabrici's youth, though not improverished. After hesitation, I list this as unknown.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Padua, M.D., Ph.D.
Studied Latin, logic, and philosophy, and then medicine in Padua for nine years, and took his degree in medicine and philosophy in about 1559. I assume a B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Physiology, Embryology
Subordinate: Surgery
He published his anatomical observations in several volumes, including De visione, voce, auditu (Venice, 1600), De venarum ostiolis (1603), which contains systematic and accurate descriptions of the venous valves ex novo, De motu locali animalium secundum totum (1618)--all of which may be considered as parts of the uncompleted but monumental Totius animalis fabricae theatrum which he meant to publish and to which he devoted many years. Fabrici was one of the creators of comparative anatomy.
Fabrici's embryological works included De formato foetu (1604), and De formatione (1621).
His surgical works were gathered in the Pentateuchos cheirurgicum (Frankfurt,1592) and in The Operationes chirurgicae (Venice, 1619).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Medicine, Patronage
Secondary: Schoolmastering, Government
He was a private teacher of anatomy in Padua, 1562-1565, and he continued to give some private courses thereafter.
Professor of surgery and anatomy, 1565-1613, initially with a salary of 100 florins, raised to 200 in 1571, and later to 400, 600, 850, and 1100. In 1600 he was given the salary of 1000 scudi (which were more than florins) for life. He was given life tenure in 1600, with the title sopraordinario.
From 1570-1584 he was a member of the commission that examined surgeons for licenses.
Fabrici was consulted by the Duke of Mantua in 1581, by the Duke of Urbino in 1591, and was called to Florence by the Grand Duke in 1604 to attend his son. In Florence he was given two golden chains in recompense. The King of Poland consulted him by mail, and sent him a gold chain and a gold medal.
Fabrici practiced medicine as a surgeon and physician, and he amassed a fortune from his practice and from his academic appointment. In 1514 he was able to entertain a Venetian patrician, Morosini, at his country villa in a style sufficiently lavish that Morosini described it at length. He charged his wealthy patrons nothing--and received extravagant gifts from them in return. He treated the poor gratis. Fabrici left an estate of 200,000 ducats.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Court Official, City Magistrate
It is said that he studied in Padua under patronage of the patrician Loredan Family from 1550 to 1559. However, Fabrici never mentioned this family, but in his will he did mention five other patrician families as his patrons.
As a surgeon and physician he enjoyed the patronage of many eminent people. He was consulted by the Duke of Urbino in 1591, and treated the son of Ferdinand I and Christina di Lorena. He visited Venice with Spigelio in 1607, and in Venice he cured Paolo Sarpi, who had been wounded. For his services, he was made a knight of St. Mark by the Republic of Venice.
Fabrici dedicated De venarum ostiolis to the German nation (in Padua) and received two silver cups from them. Frankly, I do not have a category under which this can fall.
In 1600 he dedicated the three parts of De visione, voce, auditu to the three patricians who had secured his appointment to be sopraordinario, and he dedicated other words to other Venetian patricians.
He dedicated De locutione, 1601, to the Polish magnate Thoms Zamoyski and Opere chirurgica to the King of Poland.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Instruments
He invented instruments for use in dentistry.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
He was a member of the Medical Colleges of Padua and of Venice.
  1. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 1, 35-8. In the copy I have, vol. 1 is from the second ed, (1932) and vol. 2 from the first (1928). I gather that pagination in the two editions is not identical.
  2. H.B. Adelmann, The Embryological Treatises of Heironymus Fabricius of Acquapendente, (Ithaca, N.Y., 1942).
  3. G.Favaro, "Contributi alla biografia di Girolamo Fabrici di Acquapendente", in Memorie e documenti per la storia della Universita di Padua, (Padua, 1922), pp. 241-348.
  4. _____, "L'insegnamento anatomico di Girolamo Fabrici d'Acquapendente," in Monografie storiche sullo studio di Padova. Contributo del R. Istituto Veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti alla celebrazzione del VII centenario della universitaà, (Venice, 1922), pp. 107-36.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. A.F.Ciucci, L'Ospidale di Parnaso, Bruno Zanobio, ed., (Milan, 1962). K.J. Franklin, De venarum ostiolis of Hieronymus Fabricius of Acquapendente, (Baltimore, 1933).
  2. E. Gurlt, Geschichte de Chirurgie, 2, (Berlin, 1898), 445-81.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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