Daléchamps, Jacques (or Jacobus Dale Champius)

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Daléchamps, Jacques (or Jacobus Dale Champius)

(b. Caen, France, 1513; d. Lyons, France, I March 1588)

botany, medicine.

Daléchamps, probably best described as a “medical humanist,” entered the University of Montpellier in 1545. He received his first degree in medicine the next year, and a doctorate in the same subject in 1547, under Guillaume Rondelet. After a few years in Grenoble and Valence, he moved in 1552 to Lyons, where he spent the remainder of his life. Little is known of his personal life, except that his friends and correspondents included Rondelet, Conrad Gesner, Joseph Justus Scaliger, Robert Constantin, and Jean Fernel.

Daléchamps’ most important scientific work is the Historia generalis plantarum(1586–1587), the most complete botanical compilation of its time and the first to describe much of the flora peculiar to the region around Lyons. It formed the basis for a later work by Jacobus Antonius Clavenna but was severely criticized in separate writings by Jacobus Pons and Gaspard Bauhin. Daléchamps’ other more or less original work if the Chirurgie françoise (1570), based largely on Book VI of Paul of Aegina’s De re Medica but also incorporating material from other sources, including Ambroise Paré and Jacques Roy.

Much of Daléchamps’ effort, however, was directed toward editing and translating earlier scientific and medical writings. He contributed, in one way or another, to editions of works of Pliny the Elder, the two Senecas, Dioscorides, Paul of Aegina, and Raymond Chalmel de Viviers. In addition, he translated works of Athenaeus into Latin and of Galen into French. Among Daléchamps’ unpublished works are a collection of his letters; an “Ornithologie,” which consists only of illustrations without descriptions; and a Latin translation of all of the then–known writings of Theophrastus and of some minor writings attributed to Aristotle. He was probably the first to make a complete Latin translation of all of Theophirastus’ known writings.


I. Original Works. Two of Daléchamps’ works are Chirurgie françoise (Lyons, 1570; Paris, 1610); and Historia generalis plantarum, 2 vols. (Lyons, 1586–1587; French trans., Lyons, 1615, 1653). There are also unpublished works: the Latin translation of Theophrastus (Paris, BN lat. 11,857); the “Ornithologie” (Paris, BN lat. 11,858–11,859); and a collection of his letters (Paris, BN lat. 13,063).

Listings of Daléchamps’ works and their various eds. are in Joly and Schmitt (see below).

II. Secondary Literature. More on Daléchamps and his work can be found in Georges Grente, ed., Dictionnaire des letters françaises: Le seiziè siècle (Paris, 1951), P. 211; E. Gurlt, Geschichte der Chirurgie (Berlin, 1898), II, 786–790; F. Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, XII, 804–806; Philippe–Louis Joly, Éloges de quelques auteurs françois (Dijon, 1742), pp. 350–368; Antoine Magnin, Prodrome d’une histoire des botanistes lyonnais (Lyons, 1906), pp. 14–15, also in Mémoires de la Société Botanique de Lyon, 31 (1906), 14–15; Ernst H. F. Meyer, Geschichite der Botanik (Königsberg, 1857), IV, 395–399; M. Michaud, Biographie universelle, new ed., X, 40–41; Jules Roger, Les Médecins normands du XII e au XIXe siècle (Paris, 1890–1895),11,41–42;J.B. Saint–Lager, Histoire des herbiers (Paris, 1885), pp. 47–49; George Sarton, Appreciation of Ancient and Medieval Science During the Renaissance (1450–1600) (Philadelphia, 1955), pp.85–86; Charles B. Schmitt, “Some Notes on Jacobus Dalechampius and His Translation of Theophrastus (Manuscript: BN., Lat. 11,857),” in Gesnerus, 26 (1969), 36–53; and Kurt Sprengel, Geschichte der Botanik, rev, ed., I(Altenburg–Leipzig, 1817), 332–334.

See also H. Christ, “Jacques Dalechamp, un pionnier dela flore des Alpes occidentales au XVI siècle,” in Bulletin de la Société botanique de Genève, 2nd ser., 9 (1917), 137–164.

Charles B. Schmitt