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Santorio, Santorio

1. Dates
Born: Capodistria [Justinopolis], now Koper, Jugoslavia, 29 Mar. 1561
Died: Venice, 6 Mar. 1636
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 75
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat, Government Official
His father, Antonio Santorio, was a nobleman and a high official of the Venetian Republic, who was sent to Capodistria as an official (Bombardier and Chief Steward of Munitions). Santorio's mother was Elisabetta Cordona, the heiress of a local noble family.
Although everything is suggestive enough, there was in fact no mention at all of the family's financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Padua, M.D.
He was educated at Capodistria and Venice, where he shared the same tutors as the patrician Morosini's sons. He received a thorough knowledge of classical languages and literature.
In 1575 he enrolled in the University of Padua, where he studied philosophy and medicine and obtained his doctor's degree in 1582. As usual I assume the equivalent of a B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Instrumentation
His great achievement was the introduction of quantitative experimentation into biological science. In his Methodus vitandorum errorum (1602), a comprehensive study on the method of healing, he mentioned a few measuring instruments. His Commentaria in artem medicinalem Galeni (1612) contains the first printed mention of the air thermometer. The De statica medicina (1614) briefly describes the results of a long series of experiments that he conducted with a scale and other measuring instruments and argues a theory about insensible perspiration.
Santorio also invented surgical instruments and what he called a pulsilogium. Beyond medicine he invented a wind gauge and a device to measure the force of water currents.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage, Academia, Medicine
Secondary: Government
Both Caparroni and Castiglioni say that immediately after completing his medical degree Santorio went to Poland as the personal physician to the King and the upper aristocracy. It is now generally agreed that this could not be correct, and that rather he was in Croatia between 1587 and 1599 at the invitation of a leading nobleman, probably Count Zrinski. Then, after 1599, he practised medicine in Venice.
In 1607, together with Fabrizio, he treated and cured Sarpi after the attempted assasination.
1611-24, professor of theoretical medicine at the University of Padua, initially with a salary of 800 ducats, which was later raised to 1500. (I wonder if the sources are not in error on the unit; Padua stated salaries in florins.) When he retired in 1624 the Venetian Senate continued both his salary and his title until his death.
While teaching in Padua, Santorio carried on a busy practice with the Venetian aristocracy, and he resigned the university chair in order to devote himself wholly to the practice. He put together a large fortune.
In 1630 the Venetian government put him in charge of dealing with the plague.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Court Official
He owed his professorship partly to the support of his friends in the upper Venetian nobility. He dedicated Commentaria in artem medicinalem Galeni to Andrea Morosini.
Originally he was supposed to have held the chair for six years; but at the end of that period, in 1617, the Venetian Senate extended his contract for six more years and granted him an exceptionally high salary. When he retired, the Senate awarded him both the continuation of his salary and the permanent title of professor.
He dedicated Methodus vitandorum errorum to Ferdinand of Austria.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Instruments
He was the first to add a scale to the thermoscope, thereby transforming it into the thermometer.
He also invented a hygrometer, a pendulum for measuring the pulse rate, a special syringe for extracting bladder stones, and a bathing bed.
Beyond medicine he invented a wind gauge and a device to measure the force of water currents.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
In Morosini's home, a meeting place for the proponents of the new science, he met Galileo and became friendly with Paolo Sarpi, Girolamo Fabrici, Giambattista Della Porta, and Francesco Sagredo, among others.
He was a member of the Palladium Academy of Capodistria.
He was President of the Venetian College of Physicians.
  1. Arturo Castiglioni, "The Life and Work of Santorio Santorio," tr.
  2. Emilie Recht, Medical Life, 38 (1931), 729-85.
  3. Davide Giordano, "Parole dette in Capodistria il 9 giungo 1924 per la inaugurazione di un busto a Santorio Santorio," in Giordano, Scritte e discorsi pertinenti alla storia della medicina e ad argomenti diversi, (Milano, 1930), pp. 204-10.
  4. Dezeimeris, J.E. Ollivier and Raige-Delorme, Dictionnaire historique de la medecine ancienne et moderne, 4 vols. (Paris, 1828-39), 4, 63-4. The names, without first names or initials except for Ollivier, appear this way on volume 1; Dezeimeris alone appears on the remaining volumes.
  5. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 2, 67-70. 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.
  6. R.H. Major, "Santorio Santorio," Annals of Medical History, n.s.
  7. 10 (1938), 369-81.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. A. Capello, De vita cl. viri Sanctorii Sanctorii, (Venice, 1750).
  2. M. Del Gaizo, Ricerche storiche intorno a Santorio Santorio ed alla medicina statica, (Naples, 1889).
  3. P. Stancovich, Biografie degli uomini illustri dell'Istria, (Trieste, 1829), 2.
  4. Lietta Ettari and Mario Procopio, Santorio Santorio: la vita e le opere, (Rome, 1968). (Part of the Quaderni della nutrizioni.) Paolo Farina, "Sulla formazione scientifica di Henricus Regius: Santorio Santorio e il De statica medica," Rivista critica de storia della filosofia, 30 (1975), 363-99.
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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