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Worm, Ole

1. Dates
Born: Aarhus, Denmark, 13 May 1588
Died: Copenhagen, 31 August 1654
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 66 2.His father, Mag Willum Worm, was the mayor of Aarhus. At this point it seems inconceivable to me that he could have been chosen for the office if he was not affluent. Worm's extended and incredibly peripatetic student career seems impossible without the father's affluence.
2. Father
3. Nationality
Birth: Dane
Career: Dane
Death: Dane
4. Education
Schooling: Marburg, Giessen, (Str,) Padua, Montpelier, Copenhagen; Basel, M.D.
After grammar school in Aarhus, he was sent to Germany for what my sources call high school.
In June 1605 he matriculated at the Univ. of Marburg, the first in a considerable list of universities. He was there only briefly, studying philosophy.
From the fall of 1605 until spring 1607 he studied theology in Giessen.
In the spring of 1607 he studied anatomy and botany in Strasbourg but in July matriculated in Basel to study medicine (along with botany, anatomy, and philosophy).
In Oct. 1608 matriculated at Padua to study surgery and practical medicine.
In the spring and summer of 1609 he travelled in Italy. During the winter of 1609-10 he was in Montpellier and in the spring in Paris.
He matriculated in the Univ. of Copenhagen in Sept. 1610.
In April 1611 he was back at Marburg to study chemistry, and In December 1611 he received his M.D. from Basel. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent along the way.
In 1617 he received an M.A. from Copenhagen. At that point he had held a chair at the university for four years, and I take this degree to be by mandate. I will not list it.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran
His mother was a descendent of refugees from religious persecution in Holland.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Botany, Anatomy
Subordinate: Geology
He discovered and described the small bones known as Wormian bones.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Acad, Patronage
Worm maintained a medical practice in Copenhagen from the time of his permanent appointment at the university until his death. Incidentally, it is reported that he stayed in Copenhagen during plague years to minister to the sick. He was personal physician to Christian V.
1613-15, Professor of Latin in the Univ. of Copenhagen.
1615-21, Professor of Greek.
1621-4, Professor of Physics.
1624-54, Professor of Medicine (medicus secundus). He has "Decon" of the philosophy faculty in 1618, of the mathematics (?) faculty in 1622, and permanent substitute decon (for Thomas Fincke) of the medicine faculty, 1640-54. He as university rector in 1627, 1636, 1648, and 1654.
Apparently he was the rector (the specific word is "patron," but it does not mean the same as our word does) of the Grevinge Church from 1632 to his death. This meant that he received the income, not that he fulfilled the functions. I treat it as patronage.
8. Patronage
Type: Court
The King (presumably with the encouragement of Fincke, who was Worm's father-in-law) appointed him to the university chairs. As said above, he was personal physician to the King.
Worm was a student of the runic stones. The King supported this research, sending letters to the Bishops of Denmark and Norway stating that the research was permitted, and then paying the expenses of the runology trips.
As son-in-law of Fincke, Worm was brother-in-law of Caspar Bartholin and part of a considerable family academic oligarchy which had to depend on royal favor. See the full exposition under Fincke.
It may be relevant to Worm's position with the court that he systematically collected interesting objects of all sorts that he put into his large, private museum. Both Christian IV and Frederick III brought foreign princes and others to see the museum.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He corresponded with many of the learned men of Europe.
  1. Dansk Biografisk Leksikon.
  2. V. Ingerslev, Danmarks Laeger og Laegevaesen, (Copenhagen, 1873- 4), pp. 270-4.
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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