Adriaan van den Spiegel

Born 1578
Died 1625

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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.

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