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Magati, Cesare

1. Dates
Born: Scandiano (near Reggio Emilia), 1579
Died: Bologna, 9 Sept. 1647
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 68
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
Giorgio Magati. The sources say only that Magati's parents were of modest condition. Münster and Romagnoli call the parents middle class. Nevertheless I am forced to note that of Magati's three siblings one brother became (like Magati) a well known physician, and a sister was the grandmother of Vallisnieri.
No explicit information on financial status beyond that ambiguous "modest condition."
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Bologna, M.D., Ph.D.
He obtained doctorates in both philosophy and medicine at Bologna in 1597--a pattern I have found common in Italy.
After completing his university education, Magati went to Rome for training in surgery; he was especially interested there in the new methods being developed for the treatment of wounds.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
In 1619 Magati joined the Capuchin order.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Surgery
Subordinate: Medicine
He is particularly remembered for De rara medicatione vulnerum (1616), which discusses the theory and method of healing wounds. He also wrote another work on this subject, replying to an attack by Sennert. Magati was a conservative physician who held to the tradition of Galen and Hippocrates. Within those limits he emphasized that the function of the physician was to assist nature, the ultimate source of cure, as much as possible by obstructing her as little as possible with excessive medication and treatment. For this he is remembered as a fundamental reformer of surgery.
Magati also left behind a manuscript De re medica. An important consultation on syphilis survives, as well as a writing on the plague.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Patronage
Secondary: Academia
He built up a successful medical practice at Scandiano and gained the patronage of the Marquis (called Duke by some sources) Enzio Bentivoglio, who took him to Ferrara where in 1612 he named Magati a lecturer in surgery over the objections of the local medical profession. Magati continued to practice in Ferrara. He remained in this academic position only until 1618.
In 1619 he joined the Capuchin order at Ravenna as Brother Liberato of Scandiano--a lay brother, who was never ordained. His superiors granted him permission (some sources say they ordered him) to practice, and he treated well-known patients throughout the territory of the house of Este.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Government Official, Eccesiastic Official
Marquis Enzio Bentivoglio recognized his ability and took him to Ferrara. I do not want to take the time to sort out the precise status of rulers. In one genealogy of the house of Este, Alfonso II d'Este ruled Ravenna from 1559-97, and another source said that the church annexed Ferrara into the Papal state, from the Este, in 1598. There was, however, an Este Duke of Modena in the 1620's. Bentivoglio is clearly treated as the ruler of Ferrara in the accounts of Magati.
On the other hand, the Este utilized Magati's medical talents extensively, and had Magati not died they would have published his De re medica.
Magati dedicated De rara medicatione to Alessandro Fiasco, whom he called a knight and who was a magistrate in Ferrara, and to two magistrates of Ferrara and moderators of the university, Galeato Gualengo and Aloisio Bevilacqua, both marquises. Given the status of Ferrara, I list them as governmental officials.
Medical consultations performed for the Rev. Giacomo Bentivoglio and the Countess Ippolita Manfreda survive.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 1, 70-2. 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.
  2. V. Putti, "Cesare Magati (1579-1647)," in Biografie di chirurghi dal XVI a XIX secolo, (Bologna, 1941), pp. 8-16.
  3. S. de Renzi, Storia della medicina in Italia, 5 vols. (Naples, 1845-8), 4, 484-95. R517. R424 Dezeimeris, J.E. Ollivier and Raige-Delorme, Dictionnaire historique de la medecine ancienne et moderne, 4 vols. (Paris, 1828-39), 3, 500-2. The names, without first names or initials except for Ollivier, appear this way on volume 1; Dezeimeris alone appears on the remaining volumes.
  4. Carlo Castellani, L'attivita clinico-medica di Cesare Magati, (Milan, 1959).
  5. Ladislao Münster and Giovanni Romagnoli, Cesare Magati, (Ferrara, 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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