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Trulli [Trullio, Trullius], Giovanni

1. Dates
Born: Veroli, Frosinoe province, 1598
Died: Rome, 27 December 1661
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 63
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
We are told only that his name was Leonardo Trulli. It may be relevant that Trulli's brother Stefano was also a physician in Rome and that Stefano's son, another Giovanni Trulli, became a lecturer in anatomy and surgery at the Sapienza.
No indication about the family's financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: French, Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: No University
All we know of his early years is that he went to France for training in surgery. In the 17th century this would mean somewhere other than a university.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic 6 Discipline: Med, Srg.
Trulli was consulted on the blindness of Galileo, and his written opinion in response to Galileo's (lost) description of his symptoms, is the fullest medical document on the blindness. Trulli is in the DSB solely because of that opinion.
However, he is not wholly lacking in modest scientific credentials even though he never published anything. In connection with the correspondence about Galileo it appears that Trulli had formulated a theory about cataracts. He developed a very high reputation as a surgeon. He proposed to publish a collection of observations and a treatise on aneurisms, although he did not in fact carry through with the plan. Severino carried on a scientific correspondence with him. He became one of the Italian supporters of the circulation of the blood.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: None
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage, Medicine
Secondary: Academia
Trulli settled in Rome in 1636 as surgeon to Cardinal Francesco Barberini and to Urban VIII and later to Alexander VII. Urban established a special chair in surgery for him at the Sapienza, which he occupied until Urban's death.
He was also surgeon at the Santo Spirito Hospital. A contemporary reference to him spoke of the many cures he had effected in France, Genoa, and Rome, and of 26 operations for the stone in Rome during the first two years he was there. There are other references to his medical practice in correspondence of the day.
8. Patronage
Types: Eccesiastic Official, Court Official
See above for his service to Cardinal Francesco Barberini and Popes Urban VIII and Alexandre VII (but not to Innocent X, who came between them).
Urban established a chair in surgery for Trulli at the Sapienza, with a salary of 200 scudi. (The roles of the university show his actual salary as 300.) He was called upon to embalm Urban's corpse in 1644.
He was called to Florence to the Medici court in 1646.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Nine letters of his scientific correspondence with Severino survive.
Sources
  1. Luigi Belloni, "La dottrina della circolazione del sangue e la scuola Galileiana, 1636-61," Gesnerus, 28 (1971), 7-34. This article is the primary source about Trulli.
  2. Felice Grondona, "In tema di eziongenesi della cecità di Galileo," in Atti del symposium internazionale di storia, metodologia, logica e filosofia della scienza "Galileo nella storia e nella filosofia della scienze," (Firenze-Pisa 14-16 settembre 1964), (Firenze, 1967), pp. 141-54. Galileo, Opere, ed. A. Favaro, 20, 549.
  3. Not in A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Voelker (3rd ed., Munich, 1962).
  4. Gaetano Luigi Marini, Degli archiatri pontifici, 2 vols. (Roma, 1784), 1, xlii-xliii. Trulli appears here in the lists of papal physicians; because the prose accounts end with the early 17th century, there is no account of him in Marini.
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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