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Sala, Angelo [Angelus]

1. Dates
Born: Vicenza, c. 1576
Died: Bützow, Germany, 2 October 1637
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 61
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan
Bernhardino Sala was a spinner.
No information on the family's financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Swiss, German, Dutch
Death: German
4. Education
Schooling: No University
Sala certainly did not attend a university. He is said to have learned chemistry in Venice.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic, Calvinist
The whole family moved to Geneva in the late 16th century, converting to Calvinism. While nothing in the accounts excludes the possibility that the family was always Calvinist and moved for that reason, it seems highly unlikely.
Dragendorff, writing within a partisan Lutheran context, concludes from exclusively circumstantial evidence, that Sala must have been a Lutheran at the time of his death, when he was in the service of the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Güstow. I am not recording speculation of this sort. 6. Disciplines: Chm, Phr, Iat.
Subordinate: Med.
Sala began publishing on chemistry and medicines in about 1608-9. He published rather extensively in the genre, including a book of medications in 1624.
Early he was influenced by Paracelsus and published in the Paracelsian tradition. Later Sala became skeptical of some the Paracelsus' theories, and in his later years he strove to amalgamate Paracelsianism with Galenic medicine.
Sala's theories on chemical composition were historically important.
In 1617 he published a book on the plague and how to cope with it.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: None
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Patronage
Secondary: Government, Schoolmastering
Sometime late in the 16th century Sala followed his grandfather to Geneva.
1602-12 were Sala's wanderjahren, through Switzerland and Germany. He served as physician to troops in Germany in 1610. Nothing indicates where he learned medicine.
He settled in The Hague as a physician in 1612-17.
During 1617-20 he was physician to Count Anton Günther of Oldenburg, and he supervised the pharmacies in the Count's territories. I am assuming that the supervision was a salaried governmental position.
1620-5, in Hamburg as "chymiater," which can only mean a Paracelsian physician. Sometime during his German experience, perhaps in these years, he supporoted himself in part by teaching medicine.
In 1625 he became the personal physician to Johann Albrecht, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstow in Güstow, and then after 1636 as physician to Johann Albrecht's successor, Gustav Adolph in Bützow.
Note that Sala, the uneducated son of a spinner, did well enough that his son, Kammerpräsident of Güstow sought ennoblement and his great grandson was named a Count of the Empire in the 18th century.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Court Official
Sala was physician to Count Anton Günther of Oldenbuurg, to whom he dedicated Aphorismen, 1619.
He spent the last twelve years of his life in the service of the Dukes of Mechlenburg-Güstow.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Karl von Buchka, "Angelus Sala (1576-1637)," Archiv für die Gesichichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, 6 (1913), 20-6.
  2. G. Dragendorff, "Angelus Sala, Leibarzt des Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg-Güstow, seine Bedeutung für Medizin und Chemie," Jahrbücher des Vereins für mechlenburgische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, 61 (1896), 165-81.
  3. R.P. Multhauf, The Origins of Chemistry, (London, 1966), 161-2.
  4. J.R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, (London 1961), 2, 276- 80.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Georg Friedrich August Blanck, Angelus Sala, sein Leben und seine Werke, (Schwerin, 1883). This book, which the DSB touts as the only reliable source on Sala, does not appear to exist in the United States.
  2. Biographical sketch in G.F.A. Blanck, Die mechlenburgischen Ärtze von den Ältesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart, (Schwerin 1929), p. 83.
  3. Robert Capobus, Angelus Sala, (Berlin, 1933).
  4. A. Cossa, Angelo Sala, medico e chimico vicentino del secolo XVII, (Vicenza, 1894).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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