Trulli, Giovanni

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(b. Veroli, Frosinone province, Italy, 1598; d. Rome, Italy, 27 December 1661)


The years of Trulli’s youth are rather obscure. We only know that he went to France for training in surgery, particularly lithotomy. In 1636 he settled in residence in Rome as surgeon to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, nephew of Pope Urban VIII, and at the University of Rome as special professor of surgery. He was relieved of this post after the death of Urban VIII, whose corpse he dissected on 29 July 1644, finding cardiac ossification (left ventricle), as well as gallstones and kidney stones. He was also surgeon at the Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome.

Trulli probably played a role in the contacts between Francesco Barberini and William Harvey, who was in Rome during September and October 1636. In the winter of 1636–1637, he formed a friendship with the German physician P. M. Schlegel, who gave public anatomical demonstrations in Rome to illustrate the doctrine of circulation of the blood. A firm supporter of this doctrine, Trulli was enthusiastic in his efforts to disseminate it. His opinion is known to us rather by indirect evidence and by his correspondence with M. A. Severino than by writings specifically devoted to the problem of circulation.

Toward the end of 1637 Galileo had become completely blind. On 23 January 1638 P. B. Borghi sent him advice from Rome, praising the surgeon who had given it to him. Galileo then sent a report to Rome on his vision (a document now lost), on the basis of which Trulli was able to provide a full consultation. Forwarded to Galileo by Borghi on 20 February 1638, this consultation constitutes the most important medical document on Galileo’s blindness.


I. Original Works. Trulli’s consultation on Galileo’s blindness is in Le Opere di Galileo Galilei, Edizione Nazionale, XIX, 552–554. His letter “De serie venarum” is in M. A. Severino, Seilophlebotome castigata, sive de venae salvatellae usu et abusu (Hanau, 1654), 150–153.

II. Secondary Literature. See Luigi Belloni, “La dottrina della circolazione del sangue e la scuola Galileiana 1636–61,” in Gensnerus, 28 (1971), 7–34: and Felice Grondona, “In tema di etiogenesi della cecità di Galileo,” in Atti del Symposium internazionale di storia, metodologia, logica e filosofia della scienza “Galileo nella storia e nella filosofia della scienza” (Firenze–Pisa, 14–16 Settembre 1964) (Florence, 1967), 141–154.

Luigi Belloni

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Trulli, Giovanni

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