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Laurens (Laurentius), André Du

1. Dates
Born: Tarascon, 9 Dec. 1558
Died: Probably Paris, 16 Aug. 1609
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 51
2. Father
Occupation: Physician
His father, Louis Du Laurens, was a physician who died (1574) when André was young. His maternal uncle was an important royal physician.
It appears to me that the family had to have been affluent at the very least. The widow was left with eleven children in 1574. She was able to educate all of the boys, so that five of them became very prominent.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Avignon, Montpelier, M.D.
After taking the M.D. at Avignon in 1578, he went to Paris to study under Louis Duret. (DBF questions the study in Paris, and since no one is very positive about it, I am not going to list it.) In 1583 he took another M.D. at Montpellier in order to qualify for a chair there. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Unknown
I have not seen it mentioned. Considering the time when he became the physician to Henri IV and the part of France he was from, it is far from evident that Laurens was a Catholic.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Medicine
Much of his work was incorporated into the Historia anatomica (1600), one of the most widely used antomical textbboks of the first half of the 17th century. He also published other medical works, of which the most popular one, Discours de la conservation de la vue, (which was not confined to problems of sight and the eyes) went through more than 20 editions in several languages.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Patronage, Medicine
He occuppied the chair of medicine at Montpellier in 1686, after receiving a degree there to make him eligible.
After lecturing about ten years, he left without relinquishing his chair to serve as personal physician to the Duchess of Uzes. The Duchess introduced him at the French court, where he was soon named one of the physicians of Henry IV.
In 1596 (or perhaps 1600) he became a royal physician in ordinary and in 1600 (or perhaps 1603) was designated first physician to Henry's new queen, Marie de' Medici.
In 1603 he became chancellor of the University of Montpellier (he continued to reside at court).
In 1606 he became first physician to the king.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat
He became personal physician to the Duchess of Uzes about 1593. She introduced him at the French court. Laurens' book on the preservation of sight was written at her command (she had severe problems with her eyes, as well as the other ailments, including old age, discussed in it) and was dedicated to her.
From 1690s until his death he was successively royal physician in ordinary, first physician to the queen, and first physician to the king.
The king bestowed the abbey of Sénanque on Laurens, He passed it on to his brother, Honore Du Laurens, Archbishop of Embrun.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 12, 67.
  2. P. Dunn, "A Sixteenth-Century Oculist," Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 9 pt. II (1915-16), Section of the History of Medicine, pp. 120-42.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Edouard Turner, "Bibliographie d'André Du Laurens...," Gazette hebdomadaire de médecine et chirurgie, 2nd ser., 17 (1880), 329-41, 381-90, 413-35.
  2. Edouard Turner, Etudies historiques, (Paris, 1876-1885), pp. 209- 243. (This reference needs a volume number to be useful.)
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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