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Medina, Pedro de

1. Dates
Born: Probably in or near Seville, c. 1493
Died: Seville, c. 1567
Dateinfo: Both Dates Uncertain
Lifespan: 74
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Spanish
Career: Spanish
Death: Spanish
4. Education
Schooling: Seville
Most of the authorities think that his position as tutor in a household of the highest nobility implied a university education, possibly at Seville. He was self-taught in mathematics.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He was a cleric.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Cartography, Navigation, HPh
7. Means of Support
Primary: Schoolmastering, Government, Patronage
Little is known about Medina's life.
He grew up in the household of the Dukes of Medina- Sidonia. About 1520 he became tutor to the heir of the house. Later he composed a family chronicle (1561). In 1538, after amicably leaving the Medina-Sidonia household, he obtained a warrant to draw charts and prepare pilot books and other devices necessary for navigation to the Indies. In 1539, in connection with the above, he was admitted as an examiner of pilots at Seville. All of these activities were connected with an office called the Casa de Contratacion. In addition to charts and sailing directions which he prepared for sale, he had the right to make instruments though he does not appear to have done this. He did examine instruments made by others for sale. Although there was no salary connected with the Casa, the official connection gave him the right to earn all sorts of fees.
He taught navigation and mathematics to pilots.
1549, named "cosmografo de honor" to the kings.
He was consulted by two juntas convened by the Council of the Indies (in 1554 and 56) to determine the position of the Philippines and other Pacific islands in relation to the dispute with Portugal.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristocracy, Court
He dedicated his first book (not published) to Charles V.
He dedicated his Arte de navegar to Prince Philip (later Philip II).
He remained under the protection of the Medina-Sidonia. The widow of Don Juan Claros, his pupil, remained his protector. Medina dedicated the family chronicle to her.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Navigation, Cartography
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. José Maria Lopez Piñero, et al., Diccionaria historico de la ciencia moderna en España, 2 vols. (Barcelona: Ediciones Peninsula, 1983). Jose Maria Lopez Pinero, Ciencia y tecnica en la sociedad espanola de los siglos XVI y XVII, (Barcelona: Labor, 1979).
  2. M. Fernandez de Navarrete, Disertacion sobre la historia de la nautica y de las mathematicas, (Madrid, 1846).
  3. Ursula Lamb, A Navigator's Universe: The Libro de Cosmografia of Medina, (Chicago, 1972).
  4. Angel Gonzalez Palencia, "La primera guia de la España imperial," in Medina's Obras, (Madrid, 1944).
  5. Juan Fernanez Jiminez, introduction to Medina's Suma de cosmofrafia, (Valencia, 1980).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. M. Bargallo, "Bartolomé de Medina y el beneficio del patio: algunos aspectos poco conocidoes," Boletin de la Sociedad Quimica del Peru, 18 (1952), 101-8.
  2. _____, La Mineria y la metalurgia en la América Española durante la época colonial, (Mexico, 1955).
  3. _____, La naturaleza de los metales y el beneficio del hierro en los alquimistas y metalurgicos del siglo XVI, (Mexico, 1961). _____, La amalgamacion de los minerales de plata en Hispanoamérica colonial, (Mexico, 1969).
  4. Note that there is an extensive biographical literature on Medina.
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
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