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Tozzi, Bruno

1. Dates
Born: Florence, 27 November 1656
Died: Vallombroso, 29 January 1743
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 87
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
We know only his name: Francesco Simone Tozzi.
He is said to have been of modest means; on the other hand he had sufficient means to educate his son. I have to say there is no clear indication of his financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: No University
We are told only that he was able to study philosophy before his investiture at the age of twenty--no mention of a university or a degree. On the other, hand he apparently won a reputation for learning in his order. Nevertheless there should be reference to a university and a degree if there were such.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He entered the order of the monks of Vallombroso on 14 May 1676. He eventually became abbot of the house at Vallombroso and procurator general of the order in Rome.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Botany
Subordinate: Natural History
Tozzi was deeply interested in botany. He collected on his travels for the order, and between 1700 and 1725 he went on many excursions with Micheli, whose teacher and then friend he was. He became good at watercolors in depicting plants. He was especially interested in fungi, lichens, algae, and bryophytes. Tozzi published nothing during his life, but he nevertheless established a reputation among the naturalists (and especially botanists) of all Europe, and he was an important figure in the science of botany. (Saccardo lists a publication of 1703, which others deny to have existed.)
Especially in his old age he also collected information on birds and insects.
His Sylva fungorum, a manuscript, is preserved in the Bibliotheca nazionale in Florence.
7. Means of Support
Primary: 7. Support: Ecc
Tozzi spent his whole adult life as a monk.
Late in life he was invited to teach in London, an offer which he declined.
8. Patronage
Type: None
Tozzi is one of the few in this whole sample who appears to have been completely uninterested in patronage. He twice refused to be abbot of his house though he eventually agreed. Though he did accept the position of procurator general, he later twice refused to be Superior General. Cardinal Caligola, who learned to appreciate Tozzi while he was in Rome, wanted to install him as a bishop. Tozzi wanted the peace of Vallombroso. Note that he did not publish--and thus did not dedicate. After 1730 he retired to a secluded cell at Vallomboso.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Royal Society
He was close to other naturalists in his order, and close to Micheli, whom he taught initially and then collaborated with.
He shared his collections and drawings with William Sherard; he carried on active correspondence with Boerhaave, James Petiver, Hans Sloane, and Micheli.
With Micheli he founded the Societą Botanica Fiorentina.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
  1. G. Negri, "Don Bruno Tozzi (1656-1743)," Nuovo giornale botanico italiano, n.s. 45 (1938), cix-cxiv.
  2. "Elogio del Padre Don Bruno Tozzi, Abate Vallombrosano," Giornale de'letterati, 2.2 ((Firenze, 1743), 233-7. (Sources attribute this to G. Bianchi, but there is no name on it.) Giuseppe Allegrini, Elogio IL (Tozzi), Serie di ritratti d'uomini illustri toscana con gli elogi istorici dei medesimi, (Lucca, 1774), 2. P.A. Saccardo, "La botanica in Italia," Memorie del Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 26 (1895), 165, and 27 (1901), 108-9.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J. Proskauer, "Bruno Tozzi's Little Mystery, or a Quarter Millenium of Confusion," Webbia, 20 (1965), 227-39.
  2. R. Pirotta and E. Chiovenula, "Flora romana. Bibliografia e storia," Annuario del R. Istitute Botanico di Roma, 10.2 (1901), 292-5.
  3. Anonimo, "Letterati, scrittori ed artisti Vallombrosani, CDLXXXV, Tozzi Don Bruno," Il Faggio Vallombrosano, 23 (Firenze, 1936), no. 4, 122-6; no. 5, 145-9. I am not able to find any reference to this publication in an American library.
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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