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Rolfinck, Guerner [Werner]

1. Dates
Born: Hamburg, 15 Nov 1599
Died: Jena, 6 May 1673
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 74
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
His father, also Guerner Rolfinck, was rector of the Johanneum in Hamburg.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Hamburg, Germany
Career: Jena, Germany
Death: Jena, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: Wittenberg; Leiden; Padua, Ph.D. and M.D.
He studied philosophy (1616-18) and medicine (from 1618) under Daniel Sennert at Wittenberg.
He then studied at Leiden for 2 years.
He visted Oxford and Paris.
He studied anatomy in Padua for a few years, and in 1625 he received both a Ph.D. and an M.D. from the University of Padua.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran (assumed).
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Botany, Chemistry
Subordinate: Anatomy.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Medicine
1625 - c.28, practiced medicine and taught anatomy in Venice. After graduating from Padua, he was in such demand as an anatomist that he received the license to teach simultaneously with his degree. In 1628 he received the call to become ordinary professor of medicine at Padua, but he had already returned to Germany.
1628-9, professor of anatomy, University of Wittenberg.
1629-73, professor of anatomy, surgery, and botany, University of Jena.
1639, he was appointed director exercitii chymia, which became a professorship of chemistry in 1641.
He was rector of Jena six times.
He also maintained a personal practice.
1631, he was named director of the botanical garden.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
He was evidently called to the court at Weimar once a year to do a public dissection before princes and other interested members of the court. ("Ferder ist bekannt, dass Rolfinck dem Unterricht in der Anatomie so fesselnd zu gestalten wusste, dass er alljährlich an den Hof zu Weimar beschieden wurde, um in Gegenwart benachbarter Fürsten und anderer hoher Persönlichkeiten unter mehrtagigen Festlichkeiten eine Leiche zu seciren," Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 29, 74.) Giese and von Hagen (p. 104) confirm this. They suggest also that Rolfinck's humoring the court brought him favors. The most obvious of these is the permission Rolfinck obtained, with a recommendation from the prince, to have for dissection all the bodies that the church refused to inter.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
He established the first anatomical theater (1629), the botanical garden (1631), and chemical laboratory (1630) at Jena.
He maintained a medical practice.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Pagel, Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 29, 74.
  2. A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Voelker (3rd ed., Munich, 1962), 4, 861-2.
  3. Partington, 2, 312-14.
  4. Max Steinmetz, ed., Geschichte der Universität Jena 1548/58-1958, (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1958), 96b-9b. [LF2833.G389]
  5. Ernst Giese and Benno von Hagen, Geschichte der medizinischen Fakultät der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1958).
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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