The Galileo Project
site map

Wedel, Georg Wolfgang

1. Dates
Born: Golssen, Germany, 12 Nov 1645
Died: Jena, 6/7 Sept 1721
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 76
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
His father, Johann Georg Wedel, was a pastor.
No information on financial status. When the father died just as Wedel was completing his university studies, he was forced to give up plans to travel in order to seek income as a physician. All I can deduce from this is that the father was not wealthy.
3. Nationality
Birth: Golssen, Germany
Career: Jena, Germany
Death: Jena, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: Jena, M.D.
1656-61, he attended the famous school in Schulpforta with a scholarship from the Elector of Saxony.
1662, University of Jena, where he studied philosophy and especially medicine. He formed a close relationship with his teacher Guerner Rolfinck. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
1667, qualified for his medical license at Jena.
1669, took his M.D. at Jena, while practicing medicine in Gotha.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Iatrochemistry, Pharmacology
Subordinate: Alchemy
Wedel was one of the leading iatrochemists of his time, working under the influence of Sylvius. His medical publications leaned heavily in the pharmacological direction.
He was convinced of the possibility of the transmutation of metals, and he published on alchemy.
Wedel was an extremely productive author.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Academia, Patronage
Secondary: Gov.
1667, he practiced medicine briefly in Landsberg.
Later that year, after visitng various cities and receiving his medical license, he lectured at Jena.
1667-72, he was called to Gotha as district physician.
1673, he assumed the chair of anatomy, surgery, and botany at the University of Jena. I am assuming, without definite statement but not without suggestions, that Wedel, like nearly every professor of medicine, practiced.
1673-1719, later that year, upon the death of Rolfinck, he assumed the chair of theoretical medicine. During his long career at Jena, Wedel was Rector of the university some ten times. Both Stahl and Friedrich Hoffmann were his students.
1719-21, he assumed the chair of practical medicine and chemistry.
Meanwhile, in 1679 he became the personal physician to the Duke of Weimar, and in 1685 to the Prince of Saxony. And he was appointed to various ruling councils (see below).
At some point during his career in Jena he purchased a country estate, which also suggests that he practiced medicine as well as taught it.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Academic
As a young man he received a scholarship from the Elector of Saxony. I assume that this scholarship obligated him to service, much like Kepler was obligated to go to Graz because of the scholarship he had received, and that this was at least partially responsible for Wedel's call to Gotha as district physician. It is stated that Duke Ernst of Sachsen-Gotha called him to Gotha.
The influence of Rolfinck seems probable in Wedel's appointment at Jena.
He received many state and imperial honors:
1685, Fürstlich sächsischer Rat und Leibarzt (Councellor and personal physician to the Prince of Saxony).
1694, Kaiserlicher Pfalzgraf (ennoblement by the Emperor as a Count Palatine.
1716, Charles VI named him Kaiserlichen Rat (Imperial Councellor).
1721, the Elector of Mainz named him Kurfürstlichen Rat (Electoral Councillor).
Wedel reminds me of another German doctor of that period, Albinus, who similarly climbed the social ladder through his role as physician.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
He practiced medicine early in his career, and presumably later, albeit to a much higher strata of clientele.
His medical lectures dealt with pharmaceutical chemistry, and his publications leaned heavily toward pharmaceutical questions.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Berlin Academy, 1716; Academia Leopoldina, 1672
Wedel's extensive correspondence is catalogued by Spanke.
  1. A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Voelker (3rd ed., Munich, 1962), 5, 875.
  2. Ernst Giese & Benno von Hagen, Geschichte der medizinische Fakultät der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, (Jena, 1958), pp. 174-9. Fritz Chemnitius, Die Chemie in Jena von Rolfinck bis Knorr, 1629-1921, (Jena: 1929), pp. 13-14. [OCLC: 12998757]
  3. Hildegard Spanke, "Die Korrespondenz Georg Wolfgang Wedels (1645- 1721)," Nouvelles de la republique des lettres, 1982-3 (possibly a mistake for 1981-2), 115-31.
  4. Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 41, 403.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. C. Grant Loomis, "Dissertatio de diaeta litteratorum or The Regimen of Scholars," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 11 (1942), 217-21. [OCLC: 14591394]
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
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.