Gaspard Bauhin

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Bauhin, Gaspard

(b. Basel, Switzerland, 17 January 1560; d. Basel, 5 December 1624)

anatomy, botany.

Bauhin was the younger son of Jean Bauhin, a French Protestant physician and surgeon from Amiens, who sought refuge from religious persecution by settling in Basel in 1541 and became attached to the university. From childhood, Bauhin was taught anatomy by his father and botany by his brother Jean (almost twenty years his senior), who became a botanist of some repute. In 1572 Gaspard entered the University of Basel, where Felix Plater and Theodore Zwinger were among his teachers. He received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in 1575, and conducted his first medical disputation in 1577. In October of that year he went to Padua, where for eighteen months he studied anatomy with Girolamo Fabrizio (Fabricius ab Aquapendente), saw seven bodies dissected, “and even assisted myself in the private dissections.” He also attended the teaching of Marco de Oddi and Emilio Campolongo at the Hospital of St. Francis, and probably that of Melchior Wieland (Guillandinus) in the botanical garden. At some time during this period he visited Bologna and received instruction in anatomy from Giulio Cesare Aranzio. In the spring of 1579 he signed the register of the University of Montpellier, but by his own account he spent more time in Paris attending the anatomies conducted by Sévérin Pineau, professor of anatomy and surgery, “whom I assisted in dissecting at his request,” In May 1580 he was in Tübingen. Early the following year he returned to Basel, where “at the urgent request of the College of Physicians, I began to dissect bodies.” He held his first public anatomy on 27 February. The disputation for his doctor’s degree took place on 19 April and had as its subject De dolore colico. He received the doctorate on 2 May, and on 13 May he was made a member of the Faculty of Medicine.

In April 1582 Bauhin was made professor of Greek; two years later he became consiliarius in the Faculty of Medicine, an office he held until his death. He was dean of the faculty nine times (beginning in 1586), and four times rector of the university (1592, 1598, 1611, 1619). Despite his professorship of Greek, he continued to teach both anatomy and botany, holding public anatomies in the winter and taking the students on botanical expeditions in the summer. As a result of his efforts, work was begun on a permanent theater for anatomical demonstrations, and a botanical garden was laid out. In September 1589 he was rewarded by the creation of a special chair in anatomy and botany. During these years Bauhin’s private medical practice grew, and in 1597 he was associated with his brother Jean as physician to Duke Frederick of Württemberg. From 1588 on, he was occupied with the writing and publishing of a series of books on anatomy. His first major botanical work was Phytopinax (1596). When his Pinax appeared in 1623, it was said to be the result of forty years’ work. On the death of Felix Plater in 1614, Bauhin succeeded him as archiater to the city of Basel. The following year he was appointed professor of the practice of medicine. He was married three times: in 1581 to Barbara Vogelmann of Montbéliard, by whom he had one daughter; in 1596 to Maria Bruggler of Bern; and sometime after 1597 to Magdalena Burckhardt. by whom he had two daughters and one so. Jenn Gaspard, who succeeded his father as professor of anatomy and botany in 1629 and became professor of the practice of medicine in 1660. In 1658 Jean Gaspard published the first volume, all that was ever published of the intended twelve, of his father’s Theatrum botanicum.

No great anatomical discoveries can be ascribed to Bauhin. He himself believed that he was the first to describe the ileocecal valve, which was long known as the valvula Bauhini; and in a number of his anatomical writings he gives an account of how he first found it during a private dissection that he performed as a student in Paris in 1579. His greatest contribution to anatomy was the reform he introduced into the nomenclature, particularly into that of muscles. Because it is very easy to make mistakes in the enumeration of muscles if they are merely called first, second, third, etc., and because different anatomists had named different muscles in this way, not agreeing on the order of the enumeration, Bauhin decided that it was better to use another kind of terminology. He therefore named some muscles according to their substance (semimembranosus, etc.), others according to their shape (deltoid, scalene, etc.), some according to their origin (arytenoideus, etc.), and others according to their origin and insertion (styloglossus, crycothyroideus, etc.). Some he named according to the number of their heads (biceps, triceps), some according to their amount (vastus, gracilis), some according to their position (pectoralis, etc.), and others according to their use (supinator, pronator, etc.). He also decided that veins and arteries should be named according to their use or course, and nerves according to their function. The system had so many obvious advantages over the old method that it was adopted by all subsequent anatomists.

There is no doubt that Bauhin’s contribution as a teacher of anatomy was considerable, particularly through his many books on the subject. His first textbook was De corporis humani partibus externis (1588), written at the request of his students after the public anatomy he had given two years before. It was intended to be a succinct, methodical account of the external parts of the body suitable for beginners and to be used in conjunction with the Tabulae of Vesalius. The second volume, dealing with “similar and spermatic” parts, was published in 1592. Meanwhile, in 1590, Bauhin published his first complete textbook, De corporis humani fabrica: Libri IIII. It was a systematic account written from the point of view of dissection, and intended for students rather than professors of anatomy. It respected ancient findings and theories, but did not hesitate to correct them when the results of actual dissections made it necessary. Its appearance provoked a storm of abuse from the Galenists. Corrected and enlarged by a description of female anatomy, it was republished in 1597 as Anatomica corporis virilis et muliebris historia. In 1605 all these anatomical writings were brought together, revised and enlarged, and published in Bauhin’s most celebrated anatomical textbook, Theatrum anatomicum, which was accompanied by copper engravings based on the drawings of Vesalius and entitled Vivae imagines partium corporis. The Theatrum anatomicum soon acquired the reputation of being the best anatomical textbook available. It was systematic, gave adequate consideration to the ancient authorities, did not go into too much detail over the controversies, had a series of eminently useful footnotes, and mentioned anatomical anomalies and pathological findings. Its illustrations, although poor in comparison with those of Vesalius, were adequate for anyone using the book to accompany an actual dissection. It was this work that William Harvey chose as the basis for his Lumleian Lectures to the College of Physicians in London in 1616. It was translated into English in 1615 by Helkiah Crooke and, conflated with the textbook of Laurentius, was published under the title of Microcosmographia, A Study of the Body of Man.

Although Bauhin said that his anatomical works contained few novelties, he did include new anatomical findings that were obviously true, for he believed firmly that truth demonstrable to the beholder outweighs the opinions of the authorities. In this way, in his Libri IIII of 1590 he included a description of the valves in the veins, as demonstrated sixteen years previously by Girolamo Fabrizio in Padua. (Fabrizio’s own account was not published until 1603.) In the same work he pointed out that there was no need to suppose the existence of pores in the interventricular septum of the heart, for the venous blood could more easily go to the lungs from the right ventricle through the pulmonary artery, there be refined and mixed with air, and return to the left ventricle through the pulmonary vein. He gives no authorities for this view, and it is open to conjecture whether he formulated it independently. In the end, it is a view he seems to have rejected, for in his later works he repeats Galen’s traditional teaching, supported by his own findings of conspicuous pores in the septum of an ox’s heart, which had been prepared by boiling.

Bauhin’s medical works include treatises on the bezoar stone, on Caesarean section, on hermaphrodites and other monstrous births, and on the pulse. His two pharmacological writings are designed as handbooks for young physicians.

As in anatomy, Bauhin’s great contribution to botany was to nomenclature. He was primarily a taxonomist, concerned with the collecting and classifying of a great variety of plants. He is also remembered for separating botany from materia medica. His botanical fame rests chiefly on two works, Prodromos (1620) and Pinax (1623). In the latter he discarded the old alphabetical manner of enumeration and stated that any sound method of classification must be based on affinities. Consequently, he distinguished between genus and species and introduced a system of binomial nomenclature. He made little or no progress in classifying the genera into orders and classes. Although the system was not his invention, he vastly improved it, and thereafter it was generally adopted. His botanical work was commemorated by L. P. C. Plumier, who gave the name Bauhinia to a family of tropical trees; and Linnaeus, in memory of both Gaspard and his brother Jean, called one species of this family Bauhinia bijuga.

Although in a final assessment of his work in botany and anatomy it can be said that little was truly original, Bauhin’s influence in both fields lasted for well over a century. His great merit was his ability to treat his subjects in an orderly and methodical manner, for he had a capacity to think clearly and an ability to work without tiring. Quiet and reserved, he can be remembered in William Harvey’s words concerning him: “a rare industrious man.”


I. Original Works. Bauhin’s anatomical and medical writings, presented in the order that best indicates their relationships, are AIIOΘEPAIIEIA IATRIKH Quam medicae laureae causa Casparus Bauhinus... subbit (Basel, 1581); YΣTPOTOMOTOKIA Francisci Rousseti, Gallicè primum edita, nunc vero Caspari Bauhini... Latine reddita (Basel, 1588), which contains Bauhin’s account of Caesarean section in the “Appendix varias et novas historias continens... a Casparo Bauhino addita,” repr. many times in various eds. of Rousset’s work; De corporis humani partibus externis Tractatus (Basel, 1588), repr. as Anatomes... liber primus (Basel, 1591); Anatomes liber secundus partium similarium spermaticarum tractationem... continens (Basel,1592). repr. with Anatomes... liber primus (Basel, 1597) De corporis humani fabriea: Libri IIII. Methodo anatoniico in praelectionihus publicis proposita... (Basel, 1590), enl. and repr, as Anatomica corporis virilis et muliebris historia (Lyons, 1597) and repr. as Institutiones anatomicae corporis virilis et muliebris historiam exhibentes (Lyons, 1604; Basel, 1609; Frankfurt, 1616); Praeludia anatomica (Basel, 1601), also known as Disputatio prima; Disputatio secunda de partibus humani corporis (Basel, 1602); Disputatio tertia. De ossium natura (Basel, 1604); “Introductio in doctrinam pulsuum ad tyrones,” in Ars sphygmica... à Josepho Struthio... conscripta... (Basel, 1602), pp. 1–23; Theatrum anatomicum novis figuris aenis illustratum...... (Frankfurt, 1605; new and enl. ed., 1621); Appendix ad Theatrum anatomicum... sive Explicatio characterum omnium... (Frankfurt, 1600), frequently bound with the Theatrum anatomicum of 1605; Vivae imagines partium corporis humani aeneis formis expressae & ex Theatro anatomico... desumptae (Frankfurt, 1620, 1640), frequently bound with the 1621 ed. of Theatrum anatomicum; De compositione medicamentorum sive medicamentorum componendorum ratio et methodu (Offenbach, 1610); De lapidis Bezaar... ortu, natura, differentiis, veròque usu (Basel, 1613, 1624, 1625); D. homine oratio (Basel, n.d.), an oration delivered to the Faculty of Medicine 16 Nov. 1614; De hermaphroditorum monstrosorumque partuum natura (Oppenheim, 1614); and De remediorum formulis Graecis, Arabibus & Latinis usitatis... libri duo, Iuniorum medicorum usum editi (Frankfurt, 1619).

Bauhin’s botanical works are De plantis a divis sanctisve nomen habentibus... loanni Bauhini (Basel, 1591, 1595), which contains letters from Gaspard Bauhin to Conrad Gesner; ΦYTOΠINAΞ seu enumeratio plantarum ab herbariis nostro seculo descriptarum... Additis aliquot hactenus non sculptarum plantarum vivis iconibus (Basel, 1596); Animadversiones in historiam generalem plantarum Lugduni editam. Item catalogus plantarum (Frankfurt, 1601); ΠPOΔPOMOS Theatri botanici in quo plantae supra secentae an ipso primum descriptae cum plurimis figuris proponuntur (Frankfurt, 1620; Basel, 1671); Catalogus plantarum circa Basileam spontè nascentium... in usum scholae medicae (Basel, 1622; 3rd ed., 1671; 2nd ed. unknown); IΠNAΞ Theatri botanici sive Index in Theophrasti, Dioscorids, plinii et botanicorum qui à seculo scripserunt opera (Basel, 1623, 1671, 1740); and Theatri botanici sive Historiae plantarum... liber primus, Jean Gaspard Bauhin, ed, (Basel, 1658).

In addition, Bauhin edited a number of anatomical and botanical works by other writers, of which the most notable is his ed. of P. A. Mathioli’s Opera quae extant omnia (Frankfurt, 1598). Letters written by Bauhin on medical and anatomical subjects are in J. Hornung, Cista medica (Nuremberg, 1625); and Wolfgang Wedel, Ephemeriden Academiae Naturae Curiosorum (1673). Unpublished letters in holograph, both Latin and vernacular, are in the library of the University of Basel.

II. Secondary Literature. Albrecht Burckhardt, Geschichte der Medizinischen Fakultät zu Basel, 1460–1900 (Basel, 1917), pp. 95–123, provides a good account of Bauhin’s life and a bibliography of his writings. Olderstudies are J. von Hess, Bauhins Lenen (Basel, 1860); and Ludovic Legré, Les deux Bauhins (Marseilles, 1904). References to Bauhin’s botanical works are in R. J. Harvey-Gibson, Outlines of the History of Botany (London, 1919); G. A. Pritzel, Thesaurus literaturae botanicae (Leipzig, 1851; new ed., Milan, 1871); and Sachs’ History of Botany 1530–1860, trans. Garnsey and Balfour (Oxford, 1890).

Gweneth Whitteridge

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Bauhin, Gaspard (1550–1624) A French anatomist and herbalist, who, in 1582, was appointed professor of Greek, and in 1588 of anatomy and botany at Basle; eventually he became rector of the university and dean of his faculty. He wrote Pinax theatri botanici (1623), which is a concordance to earlier nomenclature (still used as such) and an attempt at a formal system of botanical classification. He also completed 3 of the 12 parts he had planned of Theatrum botanicum, although only one part was published, in 1658. His son, Jean Gaspard Bauhin (1606–85) also became professor of botany at Basle. Bauhinia is named after the Bauhin family.

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Gaspard Bauhin (gäspär´ bōăN´), 1560–1624, Swiss botanist and doctor of medicine, of French descent. His early classification of plants by genus and species in his chief work, the Pinax theatri botanici (1623), anticipated the binomial arrangement of Linnaeus. Bauhin reformed anatomical nomenclature, especially that of muscles. His elder brother, Jean Bauhin, 1541–1613, was also a botanist and doctor of medicine. A genus of plants, Bauhinia, was named for the brothers.