Wieland (or Guilandinus), Melchior

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(b. Königsberg, Germany [now Kaliningrad, R.S.F.S.R.], ca. 1520; dPadua, Italy, 8 January 1589)


Very little is known about this remarkable scholar, polemicist, able botanist, and traveler. His name probably was Wieland–it certainly was latinized as Guilandinus. He began his studies at the University of Königsberg and continued them in Rome. He traveled as far as Sicily, supporting himself by selling medicinal herbs. He journeyed through many parts of Asia, Palestine, and Egypt with financial support and letters of recommendation from Senator Marino Cavalli, one of the reformers of the Padua Studium, Wielands’ return to Italy was not without danger: after being captured by Algerian pirates and being shipwrecked he landed at Genoa, then went to Venice. On 20 September 1561, because of his fame as a scholar, he was asked to succeed Anguillara as director of the botanical garden at Padua. He was equally successful in his university career and was reappointed several times to the chair of “lecture and demonstration of medicinal herbs,” which combined botany and Pharmacognosy. Wieland, who is buried in the cloister of the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, left his library to the venetian Republic (it is now in the library of San Marco) and most of his possessions to Benedetto Zorzi.

A scholar of vast knowledge, Wieland was an outstanding director of the Padua botanical garden, into which he introduced many rare plants and a machine for irrigation (1575). He left no writings of particular value. His scientific observations are contained in epistolae, letters on botany that in clude descriptions of now-forgotten and little-known plants.

In keeping with his reputation as a polemicist, Wieland aroused violent enmities, such as that of Mattioli, and formed friendships equally strong, such as tghat with Falloppio.


A. Von Haller, Bibliotheca botanica, I (Zurich, 1771), 320–321; J.J.Mangetus, Bibliotheca scriptorum medicorum, veterum et recentiorum, I, pt. 2 (Geneva, 1781), 539: R. de Visiani, L’Orto botanico di Padova (Padua. 1842), 9–12; and G. B. de Toni, “Melchiorre Guilandino,” in A. Mieli, ed., Gli scienzziati italiani, I (Rome, 1933), 73–76.

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