Italy Scientists

With the school of Salerno (see medicine) the first center of renewed science arises, whose masters are sought everywhere; towards it converges disciples from every part of Europe.

In alchemy the Italians draw new procedures from the Byzantine world, and spread the doctrines of various Eastern sects throughout Europe. There is a whole vast movement whose fruits will be seen only in the following centuries, but whose authors remain anonymous: as anonymous are the compilers, certainly Italian, of that book of alchemy which for a long time was attributed to the Arab Geber, and from which can be said to begin western chemistry. In the 12th and 13th centuries Lanfranco appears to us among the doctors, who in 1295 taught surgery in Paris and had numerous students there. Italian doctors abounded in the University of Paris; in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there were various chemists, alchemists, craftsmen and  wandering clerics, whose personality unfortunately escapes critical documentation, as does that of one of their main teachers, Arnaldo da Villanova. Among the doctors we note Pantaleone da Confienza, who traveled a lot, and also practiced in Poland.

In the century XVI should be mentioned the mathematician and physician Gerolamo Cardano, known for his work in Scotland, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany; among the naturalists Ulisse Aldrovandi, Prospero Alpino, botanist and physician, who traveled to Greece and Egypt and was professor of botany in Paris; Antonio Brassavola, botanist, physicist and doctor, who was called to consult by Charles V and Henry VIII; among the doctors Giovanni Argenterio, who practiced medicine in Lyon and Antwerp; Giorgio Biandrata, who was a doctor at the Polish court and was called to Transylvania to treat the voivode János Zápolya; Prospero Borgarucci, of Canziano, who was appointed court physician by Charles IX of France; Leonardo Botallo, who was the doctor of Charles IX and Henry III; Nicola Buccella, from Padua, who in 1576 went to Poland and was Stefano Báthory’s doctor; Cristoforo Guarinoni, called by Rudolf II to Prague, became its doctor and adviser and founded an academy of medicine in that city (died in 1654); Guido Guidi, well known for his work in France, where he was physician to Francis I and professor at the Collège de France; Giovanni Manardi, one of the greatest doctors of his time, from 1513 doctor of King Ladislao of Hungary and therefore of his successor Louis II; Pietro Andrea Mattioli, who in 1554 was invited by Ferdinand I to the court of Prague and became a physician to Maximilian II; Geronimo Mercuriali, who also (1569) was a physician to Maximilian II, in Vienna; Giovanni Pianeri, from Quinzano, who went to the court of Vienna in 1553 and stayed there for a long time; Giuseppe Salando, from Bergamo, who practiced medicine in Styria and was also later in Vienna, doctor of Ferdinand I and Maximilian II.

In the century XVII which marks, with the school of Galileo, the expansion of Italian physics and astronomy, the famous Cassini dynasty dominates in Paris, who can be rightly considered the founders of French astronomy: Gian Domenico Cassini, the son Giacomo, the nephews Cesare Francesco Cassini of Thury, and Giacomo Filippo Maraldi, and the great-grandson Giacomo Domenico Cassini. Among the doctors we remember Gerolamo Brassavola, of Ferrara (1628-1705) who was Christina of Sweden’s doctor; Giuseppe Cervi, of Parma (1663-1748), invited to Spain by Queen Elizabeth, became the first doctor of King Philip V and the royal family; Raimondo Giovanni Forti, of Verona (1603-1678), was called to Vienna to take care of Leopoldo II; Pio Nicolò de Garelli, of Bologna (1670-1739), was the personal physician of Charles VI, treated the king of Portugal, he was president of the imperial library of Vienna; Angelo Sala, of Vicenza, from 1609 to 1625 practiced medicine in Winterthur (Switzerland), in Zurich, in The Hague, in Hamburg, in 1625 he was appointed physician to Duke John Albert II of Mecklenburg and died in Bützow in 1637, leaving various remarkable medical-chemical works.

In the century XVIII the name of Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange, wrongly claimed by France, the creator of analytical mechanics, who succeeded Euler in the direction of the Berlin Academy and moved to Paris only in 1787, after the death of Frederick the Great, should be remembered. . Among the astronomers we remember: Giacomo Marinoni, of Udine (1676-1755), appointed court mathematician of Leopoldo I, built a splendid observatory in Vienna; Giuseppe Piazzi, who distinguished himself in Paris, made important observations in northern France and was awarded his star catalogs by the Institut de France; Gianfrancesco Salvemini, from Castiglione Lucchese (1709-1791), who traveled to Switzerland and the Netherlands, held the chair of astronomy and mathematics in Utrecht, he was then called to the court of Frederick II and appointed professor in the artillery college. Among the naturalists, the Bolognese Luigi Ferdinando Marsili (1658-1730), devoted himself to natural history studies in France: Louis XIV had him in high esteem and made him a member of the Academy; Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, first botanist and then mineralogist, from 1766 was professor of mineralogy at the mountain academy of Schemnitz (Baňská Štiavnica); The famous Lazzaro Spallanzani also lived abroad for some time, who traveled to Switzerland (1779) and along the Mediterranean coast (1781) for study and visited Constantinople, Corfu and Cyprus in 1785. Among the civil engineers: Giovanni Antonio Lecchi was called to Vienna by Maria Teresa and became a court mathematician and plumber; Tiberius Cavallo, published in 1777 in English a treatise on electricity which was translated into all the learned languages, and made the first balloon ascent in London two years before the Montgolfiers (fact attested by the Royal Academy of London, and too little known to Italians ); Vincenzo Lunardi, who made a memorable ascension in a balloon in London on 15 September 1784, followed by others, in England and Portugal. Among the physicists: Giovanni Aldini, who had remarkable experiences on galvanism in Paris and London and had wide recognition especially in France; and Giovanni Carafa, Duke of Noja. Alessandro Volta’s scientific journeys will be explained more fully in the article dedicated to him. Among the geographers: Antonio Rizzi Zannoni from Padua, who was sent to Canada by the French government to determine the boundaries of that colony; Adriano Balbi, he lived for a long time in Paris where he published most of his works, and in 1833 called to Vienna imperial adviser for geography and statistics; Cesare Francesco Cassini of Thury, already mentioned, author with Legendre and Méchain of the geodetic connection of Great Britain with France; Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, who worked in Paris on two geographic globes for Louis XIV; Alessandro Malaspina, who was in the service of Spain, and then made numerous scientific discoveries in his world tour (1785-88) and in his travels along the Pacific coast (1789-94). Among the doctors: Paolo Assalini, who was a physician in the Napoleonic army, carried out studies on special diseases in Egypt, in Cadiz, in Jaffa, and was then appointed by Napoleon as the first surgeon of the court; Giovanni Ludovico Bianconi, who was at the court of the Prince-Bishop of Augusta (1744-1750), then in Dresden to that of Augustus III, of which he became councilor; Francesco Giuseppe Guglielmo Botta, a well-known Piedmontese physician and historian, who went to Paris in 1794, was sent director of that hospital to Corfu, was then deputy to the French legislative assembly and in 1815 was appointed rector of the Academy of Nancy; Giovanni Alessandro Brambilla, who was a surgeon in the Austrian army, was protected and honored by Joseph II, directed the Medical-Surgical Military Academy until 1795 (Josephinum) promoted by him; Onofrio Buonfigli, who studied in Germany, practiced in Krakow and later became court physician to the king of Poland; Nicola Fontana, of Cremona, who was a surgeon in India, and made notable observations on tropical diseases; Giuseppe Nicola Forlenze, from Picerno (1751-1833), who traveled to Greece and for his fame as an ophthalmologist was called to Paris, where he remained until his death; Francesco Pajola, from Venice (1741-1816), who perfected himself in France, was called to Vienna in 1804 where he aroused the highest admiration as a lithotomist surgeon, in 1807 he went to Wilno, then to Petersburg and then again to Vienna; Natale Giuseppe Pallucci, from Florence (1716-1797), author of important studies on cataract and lithotomy, who was called to Vienna where he practiced with great success until his death; Francesco Roncalli Parolino, of Brescia (1692-1763), who was a doctor of the Spanish court and conducted a notable investigation into the diseases and therapeutic methods of the various countries of Europe; Giuseppe Antonio Testa, who spent a long time in England and published an important work there; Andrea Vaccà-Berlinghieri, from Pisa (1773-1820), who perfected and grew in fame in France and England and left important works; Eusebio Valli, from Pistoia (1762-1816), who went to Smyrna and Constantinople to study a plague epidemic, was a military doctor in Dalmatia and Poland for ten years, then went to Havana (1815) to study the fever yellow and died there of that disease.

In the century XIX we find first of all two great physicists: Mossotti and Melloni. Ottaviano Fabrizio Mossotti, born in Novara in 1791, studied in Pavia with Brunacci and Volta; he went to France and England, where he was received with great esteem. Called at first in Argentina, he then moved on as a professor in Corfu. His main work is the mathematical theory of dielectrics, which had extensive developments abroad (Clausius, etc.), and comes from Mossotti’s concepts on the constitution of matter, expounded in the lecture at the Corfu lectures. Macedonio Melloni (1811-1853), exiled to France in 1831, taught in Dôle and Geneva, where he worked with Ch.-G. de la Rive and conducted his studies on radiant heat. Girolamo Segato (1789-1836) is known for having discovered, after studies in the Egyptian necropolises, the stone embalming process of the corpses whose secret he brought with him to the grave. We recall that the illustrious Forlì physicist Carlo Matteueci (1811-1868) worked for a few years in Paris, was appointed professor in Pisa at the request of Arago and Humboldt, and published his main works on electricity in French. Antonio Meucci, the inventor of the telephone, worked most of his life abroad. We still remember the Lombard physiologist Giuseppe Albini, who was a professor in Krakow; Salvatore Alessi, Sicilian doctor and scholar, who was a doctor in Petersburg for many years and wrote valuable works there; the Roman astronomer Emilio Diamilla-Müller, who spent many years at the Paris observatory; dr. Guelpa, father of Guglielmo, who practiced and wrote in Paris; the ethnologist HE Giglioli, who was the first Italian to make a truly scientific journey around the world (1865-68) and deeply studied the civilizations of pre-Columbian America. Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869), author of the famous History of mathematics in Italy , he emigrated in 1830 for political reasons, passed to France, became a professor of analysis at the Sorbonne, and inspector general of public education.

Among the contemporaries we will remember, in addition to Guglielmo Marconi in England, the physiologists Guglielmo Guelpa, in Paris, and Sir Aldo Castellani, professor of tropical medicine at the universities of New Orleans and London, and director of the Ross Institute for Tropical Diseases in London and of ‘Ist. Governmental of Bacteriology of Ceylon; the mineralogist Giuseppe Cesàro, professor in Brussels; the astronomer Francesco Porro, currently in Genoa, who was director of the La Plata observatory in Argentina from 1905 to 1910; Vilfredo Pareto, who for many years was professor of sociology in Lausanne; Umberto Sraffa, professor of economics at Cambridge; Gioacchino Failla, the highest authority on radium therapy in the United States; Silvio Dessy, director of the Experimental Institute of Hygiene in Buenos Aires and founder of the great Argentine biological institute; the botanist Carlo Spegazzini, professor in Buenos Aires, the geologist F. Ameghino in Buenos Aires; the mineralogist A. Raimondi, in Peru, and many others.

Italy Scientists