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Lancisi, Giovanni Maria

1. Dates
Born: Rome, 26 Oct. 1654
Died: Rome, 20 Jan. 1720
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 66
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
Of Bartolomeo Lancisi DSB says only that G.M. Lancisi was from a wealthy bourgeois family, without specifying more. The mother died in the childbirth, and Lancisi was reared initially in Orvieto by an aunt who was a nun. When the nun died, Lancisi returned to the father's home in Rome.
In contrast to DSB, Capparoni speaks of a modest fortune, and Bacchini implies that it was very modest. However, Bacchini writes an heroic life and wants to show Lancisi overcoming great obstacles, and he does mention that Lancisi inherited two houses from his mother. I will compromise and say the circumstances were affluent.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Collegio Romano; Sapienza (Rome), M.D.
Following preparatory studies, he took courses in philosophy at the Collegio Romano, but soon he abandoned theology and entered the Sapienza to study medicine. He obtained his M.D. in 1672 when he was still a month shy of 18. He continued to study medicine independently. I assume the equivalent of a B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Physiology, Anatomy
Having examined the causes of sudden deaths, in 1706 he published De motu cordis mortibus, in which he dealt with the problems of cardiac pathology. He extended his study of the subject in his second book, De motu cordis et aneuysmatibus, published in 1728. He also did important epidemiology studies on malaria, influenza and cattle plague. And he carried out extensive anatomical and physiological studies.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Academia, Patronage
Secondary: Government
He practiced medicine from 1672-6.
In 1676 he was appointed doctor at the Hospital of Santo Spirito.
In 1678 he was nominated to membership in the College del Salvatore (which Bacchini calls the Collegio Piceno), where Lancisi spent five years in quiet study.
In 1684 he was appointed professor of anatomy at the Sapienza, where he taught for 13 years.
In 1688 he was made pontifical doctor to Innocent XI. He kept the post, not always officially, under succeeding popes, and he was appointed a canon of the church of St. Lorenzo.
Clement XI appointed Lancisi Protomedico of the Papal state.
It is clear from Lancisi's will that he really prospered.
8. Patronage
Types: Physician, Eccesiastic Official, Aristrocrat
Lancisi himself considered that his master, Giovanni Tiracorda, was the man who had most promoted his career.
In 1688 Pope Innocent XI made him pontifical doctor. He filled the post under succeeding popes. He was successful in persuading Pope Clement XI to acquire Eustachi's anatomical tables and Mercati's Metallotheca. In return for curing the Pope of a renal calculus, Lancisi was named canon of the church of St. Lorenzo. Clement conferred Roman nobility on Lancisi.
About 1689 Cardinal Altieri named Lancisi his vice-regent in conferring degrees at the Sapienza, and upon the death of Altieri Card. Spinola confirmed the appointment. This is described as a highly coveted position.
Lancisi was consulted by the highest families in Rome and by the ambassador of the Emperor.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
In 1678 Lancisi was inscribed in the Congresso medico-romano that met with Brasavola.
He was admitted to the Medical College of Rome in 1689.
In 1691 inscribed in the Arcadia.
In 1715 Lancisi organized an academy, which included professor and physicians from all of the medical institutions in Rome, devoted to pathological anatomy. (See OlagŁe de Ros, p. 292.)
Lancisi left an extensive correspondence, some of which has been published (see Bacchini).
Sources
  1. A.Bacchini, La vita e le opere di Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654- 1720), (Rome, 1920. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 1, 67-9. 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. P.A. Saccardo, "La botanica in Italia," Memorie del Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 26 (1895), 94, and 27 (1901), 61. Dezeimeris, J.E. Ollivier and Raige-Delorme, Dictionnaire historique de la medecine ancienne et moderne, 4 vols. (Paris, 1828-39), 3, 385-8. The names, without first names or initials except for Ollivier, appear this way on volume 1; Dezeimeris alone appears on the remaining volumes. L.Stroppiana, "Giovanni Maria Lancisi," Scientia medica italica, 8 (1959), 5-13. R61.S41 Guillermo OlagŁe de Ros, "La Relazione de' Male di Petto de Domenico Gagliardi (Ca.1660 - Ca.1735) en el ambiente anatomoclinico romano," Dynamis, 3 (1983), 288-302. Enrico Benassi, "Carteggi inediti fra il Lancisi, il Pacchioni ed il Morgagni," Rivista di storia delle scienze mediche e naturali, 23 (1932), 145-169.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. "G.M.Lancisi e lo studio degli organi di senso," Giornale di medicina militare, 68, no.9 (1920).
  2. A. Corradi, Lettere di Lancisi a Morgagni e parecchie altre dello stesso Morgagni, ora per la prima volta pubblicate, (Pavia, 1876).
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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