Boodt, Anselmus Boetius De

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Boodt, Anselmus Boetius De

(b. Bruges, Belgium, ca. 1550; d. Bruges, 21 June 1632)


Boodt was the son of Willem de Boodt and Johanna Voet, daughter of a famous lawyer. The Boodts were a noble Roman Catholic family, and Anselmus was destined for a career in the administration of his native town. He probably took his first university degree in civil and canon law at Louvain. After this he studied medicine under Thomas Erastus at Heidelberg and obtained his M.D. in Padua.

From 1583 Boodt lived in Bohemia as to Wilhelm Rosenberg, the burgrave of Prague. He was on very friendly terms with the imperial physician, Thadeus Hayed, a well-known Bohemian naturalist and historian. With Hayed and Nicolas Barnud he made some alchemical experiments that are mentioned in Branadu’s “In aenigmaticum;”; how ever, he was critical of alchemy and a decided opponent of Paracelsus. Besides being a polyglot and poet, Boodt drew and painted flowers, animals, and minerals. He made many mineralogical excursions in Germany, Silesia, and Bohemia.

On 11 February 1584, while he was in Prague, Boodt was appointed canon of St. Donat’s Church in Bruges; he held this post until 1595 without leaving Prague. On 1 January 1604 he was nominated physician in ordinary to Rudolf II and retained this position until the death of the emperor in 1612. Under the influence of Rudolf, a devoted collector of all curiosities, Boodt began in 1604 to write his chief work, Gemmarum et lapidum historic (1609).

In 1612 Boodt returned to Bruges, where he spent the rest of his life as a town, councillor. He never married. On 17 October 1630 he made his will, bequeathing to the Jesuits of Bruges the sums that Rudolf II owed him. His next of kin received his books, pictures, instruments, and collections of minerals.

In his Germmarum et lapidum historia Boodt made the first attempt at a systematic description of minerals, dividing the minerals into great and small, rare and common hard and soft, combustible and incombustible, transparent and opaque. He uses a scale of hardness expressed in three degrees and notes the crystalline forms of some minerals (triangular, quadratic, and hexangular). Boodt criticizes some of the views of Aristotle, Pliny, Paracelsus, and others, but accepts the existence of the four elements and three principles, although he also mentions atoms. He enumerates about 600 minerals that he knows from personal observation, and describes their properties, values, imitations, and medical applications. There are also tables of values of diamonds according to their size and a short description of the polishing of precious stones. Boodt cites nineteen authors and, besides the minerals known to him, gives a list of 233 minerals whose names heknown from Pliny and Bartholomeus Anglicus, among others.


I. Original Works. Boodt’s only published work is Germmarum et lapidum historia (Hanau, 1609); 2nd ed., prepared by Adrianus Toll, M.D. (Leiden, 1636); the 3rd ed., also prepared by Toll (Leiden, 1649), has as supplement John de Laet’s De gemmis et lapidibus librii II et Theophrastus’ Liber de lapidibus Greece et Latin cum brevibus notis (1647). The Gremmarum was translated into French by Jean Bachou as Le parfict joaillier, ou historiredes pierreries (Lyons, 1644, 1649).

II. Secondary Literature. Writings on Boodt or his work are Nicolas Barnaud, “In aenigmaticum quondam epitaphium Bononiae,” in Theatrum chemicum, III (Strasbourg, 1613), 787; O. Delepierre, Biographie des hommes remarquables de la Flare occidental, I (Bruges, 1843), 31–35; G. Dewalque, Biographic national de Belgique, IV, 814–816; F. M. Evans, Magic Jewels (Oxford, 1922), p. 154; F. V Goethals, Lectures relatives á l’histoire des sciences, des arts, des letters, des moeurs et de la politique en Belgique (Brussels, 1838), pp. 98–105; J.E. Hiller, in Annales Guebhard-Serverine, 11 (1935), 74; in Archeion, 15 (1993), 348–368 in Quellen and studies zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Medizin, 8 (Berlin, 1942), 1–125; and in Fortschtritte der Mineralogie, Krystallographie und Petrograpic (Stuttgart), 17 (1932), 418–419; E. Hoofer, de., Nouvelle biograpic universelle, VI (Paris, 1853), 665; F.M. Jaeger, in Chemisch weekblad, 15 (1918), 628, and in Historische Studiën. Bijdragen tot de Kennis van de Geschiedenis der Natuurwetenschappen in Nederlandden gedurende de 16e en 17e Eeuw (Groningen, 1919), pp. 99–149; Nieuw Nederlands boigrafish Woordenboek, VI, 151–152; Oesterreichische Nationaslbibilothek, Vienna, MS 14724, p. 133; J. R Partington, A History of Chemistry, II (Londion, 1961), 101–102;“Testament olographed’d Anselme de Boodt, conseuiller-pensionnarie de Bruges, 1630,” in Annales de la Société d’émulation, 2nd ser., 11 (1861), 370–383; and A.J.J Van de Velde, “Rede op de hulte aneselmus Boetius de Boodt de Brugge op 20 november 1932, names de Academic” in Koninklijke Vlamsche Academic voor Wetenschappen, Letterren en Schoone Kuunsten van Beligië, Klasse der Wetenschappen. Verslagen en Mededeelingen (Brussels, Nov. 1932), pp. 1505–1507.

WŁodzimierz Hubicki