The Galileo Project
site map

Magnenus [Magnen, Magnien], Johann Chrysostom

1. Dates
Born: Luxeuil, Burgundy, c. 1590
Died: c. 1679
Dateinfo: Both Dates Uncertain
Lifespan: 89 These are the DSB dates: Güsgens places Magnenus' likely birth about ten years later and his likely death about ten years earlier, which would reduce his lifespan by twenty years.
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
Partington calls him a patrician which seems to indicate that the father was a member of that class, though this was the only mention of it.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Luxeuil-les-Bains, France
Career: Pavia, Italy
Death: unknown. Italy or France, presumably
4. Education
Schooling: Dol, M.D.
He received an M.D. from the University of Dôle. As usual, I will assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed).
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Natural Philosophy, Pharmacology
Subordinate: Astrology
Magnenus' importance in the history of science derives from his attempt to reinstate the Democritean theory of atomism as a respectable part of seventeenth century natural philosophy. His Democritus reviviscens (1646) was typically regarded as instrumental in establishing a comprehensive alternative to Aristotelianism. His other writings include De tabaco (1648), which treats of the medical usage and effects of tobacco, and De manna liber singularis (1648). He used what is called tobacco syrup as his standard medicine prescribed to patients.
Magnen's works reveal a great predilection for astrology, which he called the queen of the sciences. He thought that few who followed it really understood its usefulness.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Academia
Secondary: Patronage
After receiving his M.D., he travelled first in Italy, becoming well-known as a doctor.
Professor of Medicine, University of Pavia, 1646, with a salary of 600 lire. He later became Professor of Philosophy in addition. Apparently he remained at the university for the rest of his life.
1660, he was chosen personal physician to the Count of Fuensaldagne, the ambassador to the French court, whom he accompanied to Paris. This appears to have been a temporary appointment.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official, Government Official, City Magistrate
He was personal physician to the Count of Fruensaldagne.
Among his patients were Octavianus Picenardus, President of the Senate from Milan, Cesari Monti, Archbishop of Milan, and Gaspare Alifero, another official.
He dedicated Democritus reviviscens to the Senate of Milan (Pavia was under Milanese control).
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
He practiced medicine before becoming a professor and after leaving Pavia. It is not known whether he practiced medicine while a professor.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None known
  1. Partington, 2, 455-8.
  2. J. Güsgens, Die Naturphilosophie des Johannes Chryostomos Magnenus, (Bonn, 1910). This turns out to be an extract of Güsgens' dissertation, and among the parts left out is the section on Magnenus' life.
  3. _____, Joannes Chrysostomus, ein Naturphilosoph des 17.
  4. Jahrhunderts, (Bonn: Hanstein, 1910). The rather brief biographical sketch is in this version.
  5. A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Voelker (3rd ed., Munich, 1962). [ref. Z6658.B615 1962] Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, (Paris, 1857-66).
  6. Michaud, Biographie universelle, (Paris, 1828).
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
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.