The Galileo Project
site map

Falloppio [Falloppia, in a variety of spellings], Gabriele

1. Dates
Born: Modena, c. 1523
Died: Padua, 9 Oct. 1562 (Although a couple of portraits say 1663, and this year is sometimes repeated, Favaro is quite definite on 1562, and he cites incontrovertable evidence.)
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 39
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan, Soldier
Capparoni says that Girolamo Falloppio was from a noble family which owned property in Padua. Favaro tears this pleasant fantasy to shreds. Girolamo Falloppio was initially a goldsmith and then a freeland scoundrel who, as a soldier, undertook the dirty work of his masters.
Favaro thinks that Girolamo, as the soldier client of a tyrant in control of Modena, was doing well by the time of his marriage (aside from the fact that he had contacted syphilis, as part of the fateful French expedition to Naples that may have carried the disease across the alps). By the time of his death, when Gabriele was about ten, the father was destitute, and his family had severe financial difficulties after his death.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Ferrara, M.D.
Falloppio learned medicine initially, not in a university but at the Medical College of Modena. There he carried out a dissection in 1545, and he earned the right to practice in Modena as a surgeon. Realizing the limitations that would always attach to this empirical practice, he took himself to Ferrara in 1545 for formal university study. There is a story that he studied for a time at Padua under Gianbattista da Monte and Matteo Realdo Colombo, but Favaro finds this highly dubious. He studied in Ferrara under Antonio Musa Brassavola from 1545 to 47; Favaro is convinced that he earned the M.D. I will, as usual assume a B.A. or its equivalent. Giambattista Canano was a fellow student.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Modena was a center of Lutheran sentiment in Italy, and in 1542 Falloppio was among those officially suspect. At some point near then, however, he was nevertheless ordained a priest (and was hence able to inherit his uncle's canonry). He apparently resigned his priesthood before many years.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Physiology, Medicine
Subordinate: Surgery, Pharmacology
Of the various works by Falloppio only the Observationes anatomicae (1561) was published during his lifetime and was fully authentic. It is a work of great originality. In this work he made a number of contributions to the knowledge of primary and secondary centers of ossification, to the detailed account of muscles, and to the understanding of the vascular system and of the kidneys. His desription of the uterine tubes was sufficiently accurate that they bear his name. He also explained the physiological uses of various features. With Vesalius and Eustachi, he is often perceived as one of the three heroes of anatomy.
The remainder of his writings, originally lecture notes, were edited for publication at various times after his death.
He did extensive work on medicine and in pharmacology. He was one of the early experts on syphilis.
He was one of the great surgeons of the age, and one who instituted new procedures.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Medicine
Secondary: Church Life, Patronage
In 1548 he received from an uncle an ecclesiastical benefice which he was able to hold in absentia, and from the same uncle he inherited a canonry in Modena. He resigned the canonry at once, but it does appear that he enjoyed the income from the benefice for several years, until he renounced the status of priest.
He began the practice of surgery when he was still a student, but soon went on to medical study in the university.
1548-9, professor of pharmacy in Ferrara.
1549-51, professor of anatomy at the University of Pisa.
1551-62, professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua and lecturer on simples. His initial stipend at Padua was 200 florins; later it was increased to 270.
In 1557-9, and then again in 1561, bitterly unhappy at Padua, he negotiated with the University of Bologna to move there. In 1561 he was offered a salary of 400 scudi, and had he not died, he would have moved to Bologna as the Professor of Practical Medicine (Medical Practice?)
Falloppio was famous in his age as a physician. He was called to treat prominent patients as far away as Florence and even Rome. He had a prominent practice among the Venetian patriciate.
In 1552, at the request of Pope Julius III, Falloppio was given leave from the university to go to Rome to treat Baldovino del Monte, the Pope's brother.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Eccesiastic Official
The Grand Duke Cosimo I, when he was seeking to establish his new university as a prominent institution, called Falloppio to Pisa in 1549.
Toward the end of his life he became in effect the family physician to the Este of Ferrara.
He was medical consultant to the Gonzaga in Mantua.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
He became a member of the Medical College of Venice in 1556.
He established a relation with Ghini in Pisa when he was there, and this relation continued.
He had friction with Anguillara in Padua.
He corresponded heavily with Aldrovandi. Many of these letter have been published, though I gather not as a collection, but rather in separate works. See Favaro, p. 8.
  1. Giuseppe Favaro, Gabrielle Falloppia Modenese (MDXXIII-MDLXII): studio biographico, (Modena, 1928).
  2. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 2, 46-9. 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.
  3. P.A. Saccardo, "La botanica in Italia," Memorie del Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 26 (1895), 70-1, and 27 (1901), 46.
  4. Gaetano Luigi Marini, Degli archiatri pontifici, 2 vols. (Roma, 1784), 1, 400.
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.