Horne (Hornius), Johannes Van

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Horne (Hornius), Johannes Van

(b. Amsterdam, Netherlands, ca. 2 September 1621; d. Leiden, Netherlands, 5 January 1670)


Van Horne was descended from a Flemish family of merchants. His father, Jacob (Jacques), was one of the first “Lords Seventeen,” the directors of the Dutch East India Company; his mother was the former Margriet van der Voort. He matriculated at the University of Leiden at the age of fifteen, on 10 September 1636, for letters but later turned to medicine and is said to have assisted Johannes de Wale in his well-known studies of the circulation of the blood. He continued his medical studies at Utrecht under Willem van der Straaten, then made a study tour to Italy. At Padua, van Horne attended the anatomical lectures of Johann Vesling and took his medical degree. He also visited Naples, where he heard Marc Antonio Severino, who influenced his surgical views. On his way home, the University of Basel granted him an honorary degree. He also visited Orléans, Montpellier, and England. The period of his foreign studies covered not less than six years.

Once back in the Netherlands, van Horne asked the governors of Leiden University for permission to give anatomical demonstrations. He was appointed extraordinary professor of anatomy on 8 February 1651. After the death of Otto Heurnius in 1652 van Horne was appointed professor of anatomy and surgery on 27 January 1653.

A very learned man, with thorough knowledge of the classical and modern languages, van Horne was interested primarily in anatomy but also lectured and published on surgery. In 1652 he was the first to describe the ductus chyliferus (thoracicus) in man. As a teacher van Horne inspired Frederik Ruysch, Jan Swammerdam, and Nicolaus Steno, among others. He understood the art of making fine anatomical preparations and seems also to have prepared an anatomical atlas, which was never published.

Van Horne’s friendship with the nobleman Louis de Bils, who had enriched his anatomy cabinet with fine preparations, ended in bitter polemic when the latter took advantage of van Horne’s imprudent recommendation to publish a book in which he supported a fantastic theory that included the supposition that the chylus was transported directly to the liver. Van Horne was scandalized and turned in vain to his Danish friend Thomas Bartholin for help in this struggle. His young pupil Ruysch settled the controversy with his Dilucidatio valvularum in vasis lymphaticis et lacteis (1665).

With the assistance of Swammerdam, van Horne investigated the ovaries. He published his observations only in a small preliminary booklet, Prodromus. These observations played some role in the priority dispute between Regnier de Graaf and Swammerdam.

Van Horne edited, with annotations, Leonard Botallus’ Opera omnia medica et chirurgica (Leiden, 1660) and Galen’s work in Greek and Latin on the bones (with the references of Vesalius and Eustachi to this work). His introduction to anatomy, Microcosmus seu brevis manuductio ad historiam corporis humani (1660), was much in demand and was translated into Dutch, German, and French. He also wrote a short introduction to surgery, in which he advised some rather crude methods of amputation of members and of the breasts.


I. Original Works. Van Horne’s writings include “De aneurysmate epistola,” in Thomas Bartholin, Anatomica aneurysmatis dissecti historia (Panormi, 1644); Novus ductus chyliferus, nunc primum delineatus, descriptus et eruditorum examini expositus (Leiden, 1652); MIKPOKOΣMOΣ seu brevis manuductio ad historiam corporis humani, in gratiam discipulorum (Leiden, 1663, 1665; Leipzig, 1673; Halberstadt, 1685); MIKPOTEXNH sive brevissima chirurgiae methodus (Leiden, 1663, 1668; Leipzig, 1675); Prodromus observation em suarum circa partes genitales utroque sexu (Leiden, 1668), repr. with notes of J. Swammerdam in J. M. Hofman, Dissertationes anatomico-physiologicae ad Jo. van Horne Microscosmum... (Altdorf, 1685); Observationes anatomico-medicae (Amsterdam, 1674); and Opuscula anatomico-chirurgica (Leipzig, 1707), with annotations edited by J. G. Pauli.

II. Secondary Literature. There is no biography of van Horne. Most information is to be found in older Dutch sources, including J. Banga, Geschiedenis van de geneeskunde en van hare beoefenaren in Nederland, I (Leeuwarden, 1668), 436–447; and G. C. B. Suringar, “Het geneeskundig onderwijs van Albert Kyper en Johannes Antonides van der Linden. De ontleedkundige school van Johannes van Horne,” in Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde, 7 (1863), 193–206. More recent sources are E. D. Baumann, in Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenhoek. VII (Leiden, 1927), 624–625; and P. C. Molhuysen, Bronnen tot de geschiedenis der Leidsche Hoogeschool, III (The Hague, 1918), passim.

G. A. Lindeboom