Spiegel, Adriaan van Den

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(also Spieghel, Spigelius, Spiegelius, Adriano Spigeli )

(b. Brussels, Belgium, 1578; d. Padua, Italy, 7 April 1625)

botany, anatomy, medicine.

Spiegel was named for his father and his grandfather, both of whom were surgeons; his mother was Barbara Geens. In 1588 his father was appointed inspector general of the military and naval surgeons of the Dutch Republic; he died in 1600, leaving two sons. Adriaan’s (probably younger) brother Gijsbertus became a surgeon at the ducal hospital in Florence. Adriaan studied at the universities of Louvain and Leiden, and later at Padua, where he inscribed his name in the register of the Natio Germanica on 28 March 1601. At Padua he studied under Fabrici and Casserio. It is generally believed that he graduated before 1604, but his name has not been found in the registers of the Sacrum Collegium that granted the degrees to Catholic students. (It is possible that he had not yet become a Catholic and therefore graduated privately.)

In 1606 Spiegel was appointed ordinary physician to the students of the Natio Germaniea. Probably he assisted Fabrici in his private practice; certainly he accompanied the old man on a trip to Florence and on another to Venice, where Fabrici gave a consultation. During these years Spiegel studied botany and wrote an introduction to the science, Isagoge in rem herbariam libri duo (1606), which he dedicated to the students of the Natio Germanica. In 1607 he competed unsuccessfully for the chair of practical medicine at Padua, left vacant by the death of Ercole Sassonia. In 1612 he left Italy for Belgium. He remained there briefly, however, then traveled through Germany and finally settled in Moravia. Soon afterward he became medicus primarius of Bohemia.

On 22 December 1616 the Venetian Senate appointed Spiegel professor of anatomy and surgery. He succeeded Casserio, who had replaced Fabrici after the latter’s retirement in 1608. On 17 January 1617 Spiegel performed a public anatomy demonstration in the famous theater at Padua, where in the following years he attracted many foreign students to his public performances. On 25 January 1623 he was elected knight of St. Mark. He died two years later after an illness of some six weeks—according to one version, as a result of an infection resulting from an injury caused by the breaking of a glass at the wedding of his only daughter Anzoletta (7 February 1625); according to another version because, weakened by his studies, he had no resistance to a feverish disease that ended in a liver abscess.

During Spiegel’s lifetime only the Isagoge, a work on the tapeworm, and one on malaria (febris semitertiana) were published. He did, however, leave some important manuscripts. His son-in-law, Liberalis Crema, published a book on embryology (De formatu foetu); and Daniel Rindfleisch, better known as Bucretius, edited his great anatomical work, De humani corporis fabrica. It is said that Spiegel entrusted the editing of this book to Bucretius on his deathbed or in his will. Since the manuscript lacked illustrations, Bucretius obtained the beautiful plates that Casserio had had made by a German draftsman and engraver named Josias Murerus (Joseph Maurer). Bucretius added ninety-eight of these fine copperplates to Spiegel’s work, separately paginated and under the name of Casserio. These splendid engravings contributed much to the success and fame of the work. Some faults in the text have been indicated, however. J. Riolan the younger blamed Bucretius for them, accusing him of having altered the original text. Nevertheless, the work established Spiegel’s renown as an anatomist.

Spiegel’s name appears in two anatomical terms: the linea Spigeliiü (the semilunar line between the muscle and the aponeurosis of the transversus abdominis) and the lobus caudatus hepatis (Spigelii), which, however, had already been described by Eustachi and others.


I . Original Works. Spiegel’s writings include Isagoge in rem herbariam libri duo (Padua, 1606, 1608: Leiden, 1633, 1673: Helmstedt, 1667), 1633 ed. with Catalogus plantarum of Leiden and the surrounding area; De lumbrico lato liber, cum notis et ejusdem lumbrici icone (Padua, 1618), with a letter, De incerto tempore partus; De semitertiana libri quatuor (Frankfurt, 1624); De formatu foetu liber singularis, aeneis figuris ornatus. Epistolae duae anatomicae. Tractatus de arthritide, opera posthuma(Padua, 1626; Frankfurt, 1631), see also Meyer (below); De humani corporis fabrica libri X, cum tabulis 98 aeri incisis, Daniel Bucretius, ed. (Venice, 1627; Frankfurt. 1632), also with other wor’s (Venice, 1654); “Consultatio de lithotomia. sive calculi vesicae sectione,” a letter included in Johan van Beverwijck, De calculo renum et vesicae(Leiden, 1638), in all eds. and translations of this book but not in vander Linden; and Adriani Spigelii Bruxellensis... opera quae extant omnia, edited, with a preface, by J. A. vander Linden, 2 vols. in 3 pts. (Amsterdam, 1645), which includes works by others—such as Harvey’s De motu cordis—a short biography, and a portrait

II .Secondary Literature. Spiegel’s accomplishments as a botanist are evaluated in M. Morren. “Adrien Spiegel,” in Revue de Bruxelles, 1 (Feb. 1838), 51–79.

The following articles deal with Spiegel’s life and his contributions to medicine: C. van Bambeke, in Académie royale... de Belgique, Biographie nationale, XXIII (1921–1924), 330–334; C. Broeckx, Essai sur l’histoice de la médecine belge(Brussels, 1838), 311–312; Pietro Capparoni, “Cinque lettre inedite di Adriaan van den Spiegel (Adriano Spigeli),” in Bollettino dell’Istituto storico italiano dell’arte sanitaria, 10 (1930), 248–253; Giuseppe Favaro, “Contributo alla biografia di A. Spigeli (Adriaan van den Spiegel) nel terzo centenario della sua morte (1625–1925),” in Atti del Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti85 , pt. 2 (1925–1926), 213–252; J. B. Marinus, “Éloge de van den Spiegel (Adrien),” in Bulletin de l’Académie royale de médecine, 5 (1846), 842–860, also issued separately (Brussels. 1846); A W. Meyer, “The Elusive Human Allantois in Older Literature,” in E. Ashworth Underwood, ed., Science, Medicine and History (London-New York—Toronto 1953), 510–520, with an English trans, of Spiegel’s work on the allantois in ch.5 of his De formatu foetu, 512–513; and A. Portal, Histoire de l’anatomie et de la chirurgie, II (Paris. 1770), 449–455.

G. A. Lindeboom