The Galileo Project
site map

Pecquet, Jean

1. Dates
Born: Dieppe, 9 May 1622.
Died: Paris, Feb. 1674.
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 52
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Paris; Montpelier, M.D.
He enrolled at the Paris Faculty of Medicine about 1646. Finding the atmosphere unfavorable, he matriculated at Montpellier in July 1651, received his licence in February 1652, and M.D. in 1652. As usual, I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (by assumption)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy
Subordinate: Medicine
The quantity of his scientific production was slight. In 1647 while still a student, he discovered the chyle reservoir. This discovery helped to confirm Harvey's law of the circulation of blood. Pecquet believed that the ideal physician was the experimenting doctor who actively examined nature instead of passively contemplating it. While still a student, he defied the reigning conceptions and engaged not in the "mute and frozen science" of cadaver anatomy but in anatomia animata on dogs, cattle, pigs, and sheep. In 1651, He published the first edition of his anatomical experiments which enjoyed a great deal of fame.
He participated in experiments on the transfusion of blood performed in 1666-7 at the Academie des Sciences.
Pecquet used liquor as a medicine for many of his patients, and he in fact ended his life when he fell from a horse drunk.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage
He was physician to Nicolas Fouquet, as well as to the Marquise de Sévigné, her daughter, and her grandchildren. When Fouquet was imprisoned, Pecquet was volunarily imprisoned with him and spent 3 1/2 years with him in jail.
8. Patronage
Types: Government Official, Aristrocrat
He was physician to Nicolas Fouquet and to the Marquise de Sévigné, her daughter and grandchildren.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Académie Royal des Sciences
In 1642 he went to Paris, where he was a member of the various scientific circles that proceeded the Académie des Sciences. He was friendly with the Paris scientists Jacques Mentel, Louis Gayant, Adrien Auzout, and Claude Perrault. In 1666, Colbert chose Pecquet among the first seven members of the Académie. (Considering his connection with Fouquet, this is strange indeed.)
  1. Michaud, ed., Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 33, 247-249. CT153.B6
  2. P.Gilis, "Pecquet," Bulletin de la Société des sciences médicales et biologiques de Montpellier, 3 (1921-2), 32-60.
  3. Desgenettes, "Pecquet," in Dictionaire des sciences médicales-biographie médicale, 6, 1824, 394-5.
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.