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Piccolomini, Arcangelo

1. Dates
Born: Ferrara, 1525 (some say 1526)
Died: Rome, 19 Oct. 1586
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 61
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
Little is known of Piccolomini's early life.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: French, Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Ferrara, M.D., Ph.D.
He received his doctorate in philosophy and medicine at Ferrara, probably in the late 1540's. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Physiology
Subordinate: Medicine, Embryology
His works include In librum Galeni de humoribus commentarii (1556), which contained his translation of Galen's De humoribus, and Anatomicae praelectiones (Rome, 1586), his course of anatomical lectures. To his anatomical descriptions he added pathological observations. Anatomical description was less important in his work than physiological theory was, theory drawn from Galen, Aristotle, and neoplatonims.
His Praelectiones contain a long dissertation on generation.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage, Academia
Secondary: Government
After he received his degree he taught philosophy at the University of Bordeaux.
About 1557, under the patronage of Bishop Michele della Torre, the Papal nunzio to France, he went to Rome, where he was named physician to Pope Pius IV (1559-65). (Marini states that he was physician to Paul IV in 1557.) He retained this position until his death, serving in turn Pius V, Gregory XIII, and Sixtus V. Della Torre, who was elevated to the status of cardinal about 1657, continued to be a protector of Piccolomini.
In 1575 he was given the chair in medical practice at the Sapienza, with a combined salary of 400 scudi.
In 1582 he became general protomedicus for the Papal States.
8. Patronage
Type: Eccesiastic Official
In 1556 he dedicated his first work to Bishop Michele della Torre, the papal nunzio in France. Under the Bishop's patronage he went to Rome.
In was physician in turn to Popes Paul IV, Pius IV, Pius V, Gregory XIII, and Sixtus V. He dedicated his Praelectiones to Sixtus.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
A member of the Medical College of Rome. Protofisico of the College in 1580.
  1. Francesco Pierro, Arcangelo Piccolomini Ferrarese (1525-1586) e la sua importanza nell'anatomia postvesaliana, (Quaderni di storia della scienza e della medicina, no.6, (Ferrara, 1965). Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 2, 50-2. 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. Gaetano Luigi Marini, Degli archiatri pontifici, 2 vols. (Roma, 1784), 1, 423.
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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