- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Adriaan van den Spiegel

Born  1578
Died  1625

Related eponyms

Flemish anatomist and botanist, born 1578, Brussels; died April 7, 1625, Padua, Italy. Name also written as Spieghel, Spigel, Adrianus Spigelius, Spiegelius, Adriano Spigeli.

Biography of Adriaan van den Spiegel

Adriaan van den Spiegel was the son and grandson of surgeons. His father, then inspector general of the military and naval surgeons of the Dutch Republic, died in 1600. The family was probably well off, however, and both Adriaan and his brother Gijsbertus studied medicine. Adriaan attended the universities of Louvain (Löwen) and Leiden, and from 1601 at Padua, where he registered in the German nation, the Natio Germanica.

At Padua he studied under Hieronymus Fabricius ad Aquapendente (1537-1619) and Giulio Casserio (1561-1616) and probably graduated in 1603. From 1606 he was physician to the students of the Natio Germanica.

In this period Spiegel probably assisted Fabrici in his private practice. He accompanied the old man on a trip to Florence to treat a Medici prince, and on another to Venice, where Fabrici gave a consultation. During these years Spiegel studied botany and wrote an introduction to the science, Isogoge in rem herbariam libri duo (1606), which he dedicated to the students of the Natio Germanica.

In 1607 he competed for the chair of practical medicine at Padua, left vacant by the death of Ercole Sassonia (1551-1607). The German nation, at Spiegel's request, recommended him to the Riformatori for the position, but Spiegel did not get the chair.

In 1612 he left Italy for Belgium. He remained there briefly, however, then travelled through Germany and finally settled in Moravia. Soon afterwards he became medicus primarius of Bohemia.

On December 22, 1616, the Venetian Senate appointed Spiegel professor of anatomy and surgery. He had been nominated to this position by the Venetian patrician, Giustiniani, Venetian ambassador to the emperor in Prague when Spiegel was there.

Spiegel attracted many foreign students to his public performances in the famous theatre at Padua. On January 25, 1623, he was elected knight of Saint Marcus. He died two years later after an illness of some six weeks.

Spiegel is considered by historians to be the last of the great Paduan anatomists. Although known primarily as an anatomist, Spiegel was a busy and much sought clinician.

1606 Spigelius published the first instructions on making dried herbarium specimens (in his Isagoges in Rem Herbarium) - a technique that had only come into practice during the previous 50 years.


  • Isagoge in rem herbariam libri duo.
    Padova, Lorenzo Pasquati for Paolo Meietti, 1606, 1608.
    Lugduni Batavorum: Elzevir, 1633, 272 pages. 1673; Helmstedt, 1667.
    1633 edition with Catalogus plantarum of Leiden and the surrounding area.
  • De lumbrico lato liber, cum notis et ejusdem lumbrici icone.
    Patavii, Typis Laurentii Pasquati, 1618. 88 pages.
    With a letter, De incerto tempore partus.
  • De semitertiana libri quatuor.Francofurti, apud haered. J. T. de Bry, 1624.
    This first extensive account of malaria also contains a description of what is now known as typhoid fever.
  • Catastrophe anatomiae publicae in Lycaeo Patavino feliciter absolutae.
    Padua, 1624.
  • De formato foetu liber singularis, aenis figuris ornatus. Epistolae duae anatomicae. Tractatus de arthritide.
    Padua, 1626; Frankfurt, 1631.
    Published posthumously by Spigelius’ son-in-law, the physician Liberalis L. Crema of Padua.
  • De humani corporis Fabrica libri X tabulis aere icisis exornati.
    Venetiis, 1627. 328 pages.
  • De humani corporis fabrica libri decem, tabulis XCIIX aeri incisis elegantissimis, nee antehac visis exornati. Serenissimo Ioanni Cornelio Venetiarum Duci dicati.
    Francofurti: Merianus, 1632. 390 pages. Also 1646. Arranged for by Daniel Rindfleisch (alias Bucretius, died 1631). With plates by Giulio Casseri.
    This lengthy and detailed anatomy text by Spiegel did much to bring order to anatomical nomenclature and to describe accurately certain muscle groups, particularly those of the back. It is said that Spiegel entrusted the editing of this book to Daniel 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. They are among the finest produced in the seventeenth century and are remarkable for their accuracy, beauty of execution, and tasteful arrangement. Bucretius published the plates separately as well as with Spiegel’s text under the title Tabulae anatomicae. Some faults in the text have been indicated, however. Jean Riolan the younger (1580-1657) blamed Bucretius for them, accusing him of having altered the original text. Nevertheless, the work established Spiegel’s renown as an anatomist.
  • Opera quae extant omnia. Ex recensione Joh. Antonidae van der Linden (with a foreword by Johannes Antonides van der Linden).
    2 volumes in 3 parts. Amsterdam, Johannes Blaeu, 1645.
    English translation, London, 1649, 1665, 1678.
    This edition of his collected writings contains the second printing of the 97 copperplates first printed in Casseri's Tabulae anatomicae plus 9 exquisite plates also by Valesio and Fialetti from Casseri's treatise, De formatu foetu, and a tenth plate representing the hymen. This splendid volume contains the second edition of his De semitertiana libri quatuor. In addition to Spigelius' writings, it also contains the 4th edition of Gasparo Aselli's (1581-1626) De lactibus sive lacteis venis, and the fifth edition of William Harvey's (1578-1657) Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus, as well as a short biography, and a portrait. On Spiegel’s life and his contributions to medicine and botany:
  • A. Portal:
    Histopire de l’anatomie et de la chirurgie. Paris, 1770. Volume II: 449-455.
  • M. Morren:
    Adrien Spiegel. Revue de Bruxelles, February 1838; 1: 51-79.
    An evaluation of Spiegel’s accomplishments as a botanist.
  • C. Broeckx:
    Essai sur l’histoire de la médecine belge. Brussels, 1838: 311-312.
  • C. van Bambeke, in:
    Académie royal . . . de Belgique, Biographie nationale, XXIII, 1921-1924: 330-334.
  • Pietro Capparoni:
    Cinque lettre inedite di Adriaan van den Spiegel (Adriano Spigeli).
    Bollettino dell’Istituto storico italiano dell’arte sanitaria, 1930, 10: 248-253.
  • Giuseppe Favaro:
    Contributo alla biografia di A. Spigeli (Adraan van den Spiegel) nel terzo centenario della sua morte (1625-1925).
    Atti del Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 1925-1926; 85, part 2: 213-252.

What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

What is Whonamedit?

Whonamedit.com is a biographical dictionary of medical eponyms. It is our ambition to present a complete survey of all medical phenomena named for a person, with a biography of that person.


Whonamedit? does not give medical advice.
This survey of medical eponyms and the persons behind them is meant as a general interest site only. No information found here must under any circumstances be used for medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically or otherwise. If you, or anybody close to you, is affected, or believe to be affected, by any condition mentioned here: see a doctor.