Schmidel (or Schmiedel), Casimir Christoph

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(b. Bayreuth, Germany, 21 November 1718; d. Ansbach, Germany, 18 December 1792)

medicine, natural history.

Schmidel was the son of Georg Cornelius Schmidel, a Brandenburg financial councillor and physician-in-ordinary to the margrave in Bayreuth. Schmidel was best known for his studies of the morphology of the cryptogams and for his editing of Konrad Gesner’s posthumous botanical publications. He also lectured and wrote many essays on general medicine and anatomy.

Following the early death of his parents, Schmidel left Bayreuth in 1728, going first to Arnstadt and then, in 1733, to Gera. He began medical studies at Jena in 1735 and continued them a year later at Halle, where he attended the lectures of Friedrich Hoffmann and Johann Heinrich Schulze. He returned to Jena in 1739 and on 17 February 1742 received the M.D. for his Dissertatio inauguralis de exulceratione pericardii et cordis exemplo illustrata. His teachers included Georg Erhard Hamberger. Simon Paul Hilscher, Karl Friedrich Kaltschmied, Hermann Friedrich Teichmeyer, Johann Adolph Wedel, and Johann Bernhard Wiedeburg. Schmidel learned natural history on his own and in the company of other amateurs.

After completing his studies, Schmidel became professor of pharmacology at the newly opened Freidrichs-Akademie and simultaneously established a medical practice in Bayreuth. When the university was moved the following year from Bayreuth to Erlangen, Schmidel assumed the second professorship of medicine at its new quarters. He was also appointed the first dean of the medical faculty. In 1745 he was named Brandenburg court councillor, and in 1750 he became a member of the Kaiserliche Akademie der Naturforscher in Halle. He took the cognomen Oribasius II .

From 1756 to 1758 Schmidel studied botany and geology in Saxony, Holland, and Switzerland. In 1760 Schmidel obtained the post of first full professor at Erlangen, a position left vacant by the death of Johann Friedrich Weismann. Schmidel’s teaching responsibilities were chiefly in the fields of physiology, where he drew on Boerhaave’s Institutiones medicae, and natural history, where he followed Linnaeus’ Systema naturae. He also lectured on anatomy, surgery, dietetics, pathology, semiotics, therapeutics, and legal medicine. Because of scientific disagreements with his colleague Heinrich Friedrich von Delius, Schmidel left Erlangen and in 1763 went to Ansbach to serve as physician-in-ordinary to Margrave Carl Alexander. A few years later he had temporarily to give up this appointment because of a dispute with the sovereign. Thus he was left with sufficient leisure both to conduct extensive research in botany and to enjoy a career as a respected physician. In recognition of his services, Carl Alexander made him a privy councillor and president of the board of health.

In 1773 and 1774 Schmidel accompanied the ailing daughter of Margrave Friedrich of Bayreuth on a journey to Lausanne, where she consulted Simone-André Tissot, and then to Dieppe, in Normandy. (Schmidel’s account of the trip was first published in 1794 in an edition prepared by Johann Christian Daniel Schreber.) Shortly thereafter, Friedrich requested that Schmidel serve as physician on a tour through France and Italy in 1775–1776. On 16 July 1783 Schmidel was awarded an honorary M.D. by the philosophy faculty of the University of Erlangen. During the last four years of his life, Schmidel suffered from mental disorders.


I. Original Works. Schmidel’s works include Dissertatio inauguralis de exulceratione pericardii et cordis exemplo illustrata (Jena, 1742), his diss., “Anmerkungen über die bisherige Eintheilung der Schwämme, besonders nach ihren Arten,” in Erlangische gelehrte Anzeigen, 19 (1746), 145–152; Icones plantarum et analyses patrium aeri incisae atque viuis coloribus insignitae, adjectis indicibus nominum necessariis, figurarum explicationibus et breuibus animadeursiionibus (Nuremberg, 1747); “Von der Grösse und Einrichtung der erschaffenen Erde,” in Fränkische Sammlungen von Ammerkungen aus der Naturlehre, Arzneygelahrtheit, Oekonomie, 23 (1761), 195–208; Demonstratio vteri praegnantis mulieris e foetu ad partum maturo in tabulis sex ad naturae magnitudinem post dissectionem depictis et ea methodo dispositis... (Nuremberg, 1761); Fossilium metalla et res metallicas concernentium, glebae suis coloribus expressae (Nuremburg, 1762); “Beschreibung eines Seesterns mit rosenförmigen Verzierungen,” in Der Naturforscher, 16 (1781), 1–7; Vorstellung einiger merkwürdigen Versteinerungen mit kurzen Anmerkungen versehen (Nuremberg, 1781); and Descriptio itineris per Heluetiam, Galliam et Germaniae partem 1773 et 1774 instituti, mineralogici, botanici et historici argumenti (Erlangen, 1794), Johann Christian Daniel Schreber, ed.

Schmidel also edited Conradi Gessneri opera botanica, per duo secula desiderata, quorum pars prima prodromi loco figuras continet vitra 400 minoris formae, patrim ligno excisas, partim aeri insculptas omnia. ExbibliothecaD. Ch. Jac. Trew nunc primum in lucem edidit et praefatus est (Nuremberg, 1753); Conradi Gessneri historiae plantarum fasciculus quam ex bibliotheca D. Ch. Jac. Trew edidit et illustravit (Nuremberg, 1759); and Conradi Gessneri opera botanica. 2 vols. (Nuremberg. 1765–1771).

II. Secondary Literature. On Schmidel and his work. see G. W. A. Fickenscher, Gelehrtes Fürstenthum Baireut (Nuremberg, 1804), 7, 112–127; W. Hess, “Kasimir Christoph Schmidel,” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Berlin. 1890), 31, 700; H. Krauss, Die Leibärzte der Ansbacher Markgrafen (Neystadt an der Aisch, 1941); F. Leydig, “Kasimir Christoph Schmidel, Naturforscher und Arzt 1716–1792,” in Abhandlungen der Naturhistorischen Gesellschaft zu Nürnberg, 15 (1905), 325–355; J. A. Vocke, Geburts- und Todten-Almanach Ansbachischer Gelehrten, Schriftsteller und Künstler (Augsburg, 1797), 2, 326–329; and T. Wohnhaas, “Miscellanea anatomica zu Kasimir Christoph Schmidel,” in Sitzungsberichte der Physikalisch-medi-zinischen Sozietät in Erlangen, 82 (1963), 27–32.

A. Geus