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Kaempfer, Engelbert

1. Dates
Born: Lemgo, Germany, 16 Sept. 1651
Died: Lemgo, 2 Nov. 1716
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 65
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
His father, Johannes Kemper (1610-1682), was a Lutheran minister, first pastor of the Nicolai church in Lemgo, and also Ephorus at the Gymnasium.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Lemgo, Germany
Career: travelling, but afterwards 15 years in Lemgo
Death: Lemgo, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: Thorn; Cracow, M.A.; Koenigsberg; Leiden, M.D.
He attended the Latin school in Lemgo (1665) and Hameln (1667), Gymnasia in Lueneberg (1668-1670) and Luebeck (1670), and the Athenaeum of Danzig (1672).
1674, University of Thorn.
1674-1676, University of Cracow, studying languages, history, and medicine. Received an M.A. (1676?). I assume there was a B.A.
1676-1681, University of Koenigsberg, studying natural sciences and medicine.
He had contact with people at the University of Uppsala in the early 1680s, but I don't know if he actually attended.
1694, University of Leiden, received his M.D. (1694).
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Geography, Botany
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage, Medicine, Personal Means
1681-1683, lived in Uppsala and Stockholm.
1683-1685, a member (as secretary to the ambassador and physician) of the embassy of Charles XI of Sweden to the Shah of Persia. The embassy travelled overland via Moscow (where they met with Peter the Great) to the Caspian sea, and then to Isfahan, where they waited a year and a half before being received.
1685, when the embassy returned home, he stayed and joined the Dutch East India Company. First, he was stationed as a physician at Bandar Abbas (1685-1688). Then (1688 & 1689), he spent some time as ship physician travelling between Indian ports.
1689, he arrived in Java, and, 1690, was appointed to accompany the annual voyage of the East India Company to Japan as a physician. He remained at Nagasaki (1690-1692), and twice accompanied the chief of the factory at Deshima (a small island where the Dutch were isolated) on his embassy to Edo (now Japan).
1693, he returned to Java, and by the end of the year was back in Holland.
1694, he returned home to Lemgo, where he settled on the family estate "Steinhof" in neighboring Lieme.
1694-1716, practiced medicine and was court physician to the counts of Lippe.
1700, he married (for wealth) Maria Sophia Wilstach, the only daughter of Wolfrath Wilstach, a prominent merchant.
8. Patronage
Type: Ars. Mag
He owed his position on the Swedish embassy to contacts at the Swedish court and the university. Two candidates who may have helped were his fellow Germans: Elias Pufendorf, Chancellor of Bremen and Verden, and Samuel Pufendorf, teacher of natural and civil law at the University of Lund, and later court historian in Stockholm.
Ludwig Fabritius, the Swedish ambassador whom he accompanied, recommended him to the East India Company.
His Disputationes (1694) was dedicated to the mayor of Leiden, Witsch.
The counts of Lippe for whom he worked were: Simon Heinrich (until 1697) and Friedrich Adolf.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Karl Meier-Lemgo, Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin, 1952- ), 10, 729a-30b.
  2. Karl Meier-Lemgo, Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716) er forscht das seltsame Asien, (Hamburg: Cram, de Guyter & Co, 1960).
  3. [DS7.M513]
  4. Not consulted: John Z. Bowers, "Engelbert Kaempfer: Physician, Explorer, Scholar, and Author," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 31 (1966).
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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