Skip to main content

Acosta, Christobal

ACOSTA, CHRISTOBAL

ACOSTA, CHRISTOBAL (1515–1580), Marrano physician and botanist. Acosta's father, probably born a Jew and a victim of the Forced Conversion in Portugal in 1497, emigrated first to one of the Portuguese fortresses in North Africa and then to Mozambique, where Acosta was born. He studied in Portugal, qualified as a physician, and in this capacity accompanied the Portuguese viceroy Luis de Ataïde in 1568 to India, where he spent many years in medical practice. In 1569–71 he was a physician at the Royal Hospital in Cochin. Later he undertook many long and arduous journeys, suffering shipwreck, captivity, and many hardships in Persia, China, Arabia, and North Africa. The trips were for the purpose of studying natural history. On his return he settled down in Burgos (Spain) where he spent the rest of his life. Acosta's main interest in his travels was the study of the medicinal plants of the East Indies. His great work on the subject was Tractado de las drogas y medicinas de las Indias Orientales con sus Plantas debuscadas al vivo. This treatise was originally published in Burgos in 1578, and describes 69 plants and other sources of medicines, with illustrations of 46 plants and their roots. Acosta was undoubtedly influenced by Garcia da *Orta, whom he knew in India, but he revealed originality in his reproduction of certain plants from nature. Acosta's Tractado de las drogas was translated into Latin, Italian, and French. There is no evidence that Acosta had any Jewish leanings, despite his ancestry; and indeed he wrote two works which breathe a spirit of Catholic piety: Tractado en contra y pro de la vida solitaria, and Tractado en loor de las mujeres de la caridad (both Venice, 1592). In the latter work, Acosta describes himself as "Cristobal Acosta Affricano."

bibliography:

H. Friedenwald, Jews and Medicine (1944), 445–7; E.H.F. Meyer, Geschichte der Botanik, 4 (1857), 408; S. Kagan, Jewish Medicine (1952), 120; C. Markham, Colloquies on the Simples and Drugs of India by Garcia de Orta (1913), xiv–xv (introd.); Glésinger, in: rhmh (March 1955), 21; D.J. Olmedilla y Puig, Estudio histórico de la vida y escritos del sabio médico… (1899). add. bibliography: L. Priner, in: New York State Journal of Medicine, 70 (Feb. 15, 1970), 581–84; R.N. Kapil and A.K. Bhatnagar, in: Isis, 67 (1976), 449–52.

[Isidore Simon]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Acosta, Christobal." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Jun. 2019 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Acosta, Christobal." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/acosta-christobal

"Acosta, Christobal." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved June 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/acosta-christobal

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.