Belleval, Pierre Richer De

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Belleval, Pierre Richer De

(Châlons-sur-Marne, France, ca. 1564; d. Montpellier, France,17 November 1632)


Nothing is known about Belleval’s origins. He came to Montpellier to study medicine on 22 October 1584, but it was in Avignon that he received his physician’s degree on 4 June 1587. He practiced medicine in Avignon and then in Pézenas, where he met Henri de Montmorency, the governor of Languedoc, who became his lifelong protector.

When Henri IV created a chair of anatomy and botanical studies at the medical college of Montpellier, Belleval was named to it in December 1593. On 10 July 1595 he received his doctorate from Montpellier.

Also in December 1593 the first botanical garden in France was established at Montpellier, and Belleval devoted all of his time and money to it. The garden comprised the King’s Garden (medicinal plants), the Queen’s Garden (mountain plants from many foreign countries), and the King’s Square (plants of purely botanical interest). During the Wars of Religion all these gardens were destroyed; Belleval set to work once again, but the King’s Garden was never restored.

Belleval was planning to publish a general herbarium of the Languedoc when he died. We possess a great number of the plates that were to illustrate it; the work was to utilize a binary nomenclature in Latin or Greek.


Works on Belleval are P. J. Amoreux, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de Pierre Richer de Belleval, pour servir à l’historie de cette facult” et à celle de la botanique (Avignon, 1786); J. A. Dorthès, Éloge historique de Pierre Richer de Belleval, instituteur du Jardin royal de botanique de Montpellier sous Henri IV (Montpellier, 1854); L. Guiraud, Le premier jardin des plantes de Montpellier. Essai historique et descriptif (Montpellier, 1854); and J. E. Planchon, Pierre Richer de Belleval, fondateur du Jardin des plantes de Montpellier et Appendice contenant les pièces justificatives (Montpellier, 1869).

Louis Dulieu

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Belleval, Pierre Richer De

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