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Lusitanus, Amatus (Rodrigues, Joao)

1. Dates
Born: Castelo Branco, Port, 1511
Died: Salonika, Greece,21 Jan. 1568
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 57
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Portuguese
Career: Belgian, Italian, Turkish (Middle East)
Death: Turkish (Middle East)
4. Education
Schooling: Salamanca, M.D.
Sent to Salamanca in 1525 or 26. I assume B.A. Maybe that was in 1529 or 30. Stayed until 1532 studying medicine and surgery. Became a licentiate in medicine but not M.D. (but I list this as M.D.)
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic, Jew
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Pharmacology, Botany
Subordinate: Anatomy, Surgery
He published extensively on plants, with special attention to their medicinal values. He also published seven volumes of case histories. He also participated in an important anatomical discovery and was an innovator in surgery.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medical Practice
Secondary: Academic Position, Patronage
Lusitanus was from a Marrano family that fled from Spain in the late 15th century.
Because of the Inquisition (which was being instituted in Portugal), he did not remain there long after his university education. He migrated to Antwerp in 1533, where he had a successful practice that included prominent patients such as Luis Vives, the mayor of Antwerp, and the Portuguese Consul. In 1540 or 41 he was invited by the Duke of Ferrara to be the professor of anatomy at Univ. of Ferrara. He was the physician to Diana d'Este.
In 1547, he moved to Ancona, probably for reasons of religious persecution. He had an extensive practice with highly placed patients in major Italian cities, including Pope Julius III (and his nephew, the mayor of Ancona), Mendoza, the ambassador of Charles V, and Cosimo de' Medici. He dedicated books to a Portuguese aristocrat, to Cosimo, to Cardinal d'Este, and later to the Senate of the republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnic).
In 1555, because of religious persecution, he fled Italy. For perhaps three years in Ragusa. Finally to Salonika in 1559, where returned openly to Judaism, and where he died.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat, City Magistrate, Eccesiastic Official
In addition to the items above, in Ancona he treated the sister of Julius III, and Julius himself called Lusitanus to Rome to treat him.
For a few months he was under the protection of Duke Guido Ubaldo in Pesaro.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He had a controversy with Mattioli in which Mattioli accused him of plagiary.
  1. J. Lopes-Dias, "Dr. Joao Rodrigues de Castelo Branco. Amato Lusitano," Congresso do mundo portugues. Publicacoes, 13 (1940), 91-175. This work contains a detailed discussion of the literature (mostly in Portuguese) about Lusitanus.
  2. Jarru Friedenwald, "Amatus Lusitanus," in The Jews and Medicine, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1944), 1, 322-80.
  3. Gaetano Luigi Marini, Degli archiatri pontifici, 2 vols. (Roma, 1784), 1, 414-17.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. M. Salamon, "Amatus Lustinus in seine Zeit," Zeitschrift fur flinishce Medizin, 41-2 (1910).
  2. M. de Lemos, Amato Lusitano, a sua vida e a sua obra, (Porto, 1907). Everyone seems to receive this as the authoritative work.
  3. F. Segret, "Amatus Lusitanus, témoin de son temps." Sefarrad, 23 (1968), 285-309.
  4. IV Centenario de Joao Rodrigues--Amato Lusitano (Estudios Castelo Branco, 1968).
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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