- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Gaspard Bauhin

Born  1560
Died  1624

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Swiss physician, anatomist, and botanist, born January 17, 1560, Basel; died Decemeber 5, 1624, Basel. Name also given as Caspar Bauhin, Caspar Bauhinius

Biography of Gaspard Bauhin

Gaspard Bauhin the most famous of a family spanning six generations of physicians and natural scientists. He was the younger brother of Jean Bauhin (1541-1613), a physician and botanist, and son of Jean Bauhin (1511-1582), a French protestant physician and surgeon from Amiens, who sought refuge from religious persecution by settling in Basel in 1541 and became attached to the university.

From childhood he was taught anatomy by his father and botany by his brother Jean – almost twenty year his senior – who became a botanist of some repute. In 1572 Gaspard entered the University of Basel, where Felix Platter (1536-1614) and Theodor Zwinger the Elder (1533-1588) were among his teachers, studying botany besides anatomy/medicine. He received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in 1575, and conducted his first medical disputation in 1577.

Travelling young physician
In October 1577 Bauhin went to Padua, where for eighteen months he studied anatomy with the Italian anatomist Girolamo Fabricius (Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente, 1537-1619). He saw seven bodies dissected "and even assisted myself in the private dissections." He also attended the teaching of Marco degli Oddi (1526-1591) and Emilio Campolongo (1550-1604) at the Hospital St. Francis, and probably that of Melchior Wieland (Melchiore Guillandini, 1519 or 1520-1589) in the botanical garden.

He then travelled all over Italy, visited Bologna and received instruction in anatomy from Giulio Cesare Aranzi (1530-1589), before going to Montpellier, where he signed the register in the spring of 1579. But by his own account he spent more time in Paris attending the anatomy sessions conducted by Sévérin Pineau (ca. 1550-1619), professor of anatomy and surgery, "whom I assisted in dissecting at his request." In May 1580 he was in Tübingen.

Doctor of medicine and professor of Greek
Early in 1581 Bauhin returned to Basel, where "at the urgent request of the College of Physicians, I began to dissect bodies." He held his first public anatomy on February 27, when he, under the guidance of Felix Platter, in 1581 conducted the section of a male body in the presence of some 70 spectators. This spectacle, lasting five days, is all the more remarkable, as for the last ten years no sections had been executed. Bauhin held his doctoral disputation on the subject of De dolore colico, on April 19. He was conferred doctor of medicine on May 2, and on May 13 he was made a member of the faculty of medicine.

From that time he taught both anatomy and botany, and for good measure was made professor of Greek in 1582. Two years later he became consilarius in the Faculty of Medicine, an office he held until his death. He was dean of the faculty nine times, beginning in 1586, and four times rector of the university; 1592, 1598, 1611, 1619.

In 1589 - while still a professor of Greek - he was appointed professor of anatomy and botany, holding public anatomies in the winter and taking the students on botanical expeditions in the summer. As a result of his efforts, work was begun on a permanent theatre for anatomical demonstrations, and a botanical garden was laid out. In September 1589 he was rewarded by the creation of a special chair in anatomy and botany. During these years Bauhin's private medical practice grew, and in 1597 (1596?), with his brother, he was appointed personal physician to Duke Friedrich of Württemberg (1557-1608).

Bauhin's work
Although Bauhin made no major original contributions in anatomy, he made an important contribution by introducing a much improved nomenclature of anatomy. His principles are partly still in use. Especially by the designation of muscles he introduced new, more logical designations.

He himself believed that he was the first to describe the ileocecal valve, which was long known as the valvula Bauhini; and in a number of his anatomical writings he gives an account of how he first found it during a private dissection that he performed as a student in Paris in 1579. There is no doubt that Bauhin's contribution as a teacher of anatomy was considerable.

His book Theatrum anatomicum became a very popular text because it was systematic, provided adequate coverage of the ancient authorities did not dwell too much on the controversies, had useful footnotes, mentioned anatomical anomalies, and gave pathological findings. He is credited with giving the name of areole to the pigmented area around the nipple. Bauhin was also active in the field of dentistry, but let himself be strongly influenced by the writings of Galen and Aristotle.

In the field of botany he left a large number of writings. He became famous as a pioneer in botanical classification and in 1623 published his work Pinax theatri botanica, the most recognised of the earlier works trying to name and catalogue all known plants. Altogether he described 6,000 species. He is also remembered for separating botany from material medica. In Pinax he discarded the old alphabetical manner of enumeration and stated that any sound method of classification must be based on affinities. Consequently, he distinguished between genus and species and introduced a system of binominal nomenclature. His botanical work was commemorated by Charles Plumier (1646-1704), who gave the name Bauhinia to a family of tropical trees; and Linnaeus (Carl von Linné, 1707-1778), in memory of both Gaspard and his brother Jean, called one species of this family Bauhinia bijuga.

The man
After the death of Felix Platter in 1614 Bauhin succeeded his teacher as archiator (chief medical officer) to the city of Basel, and the following year was appointed professor of practical medicine

He was married three times: In 1581 to Barbara Vogelmann of Montbéliard, by whom he had one daughter; in 1596 to Maria Bruggler of Bern; and sometimes after 1597 to Magdalena Burckhardt, by whom he had two daughters and one son, Jean Gaspard (1606-1685), who succeeded his father as professor of anatomy and botany in 1629 and became professor of the practice of medicine in 1660. In 1658 Jean Gaspard published the first volume, all that was ever published of the intended twelve, of his father's Theatrum botanicum.

Bauhin was a truly original scientist whose influence in both anatomy and botany lasted for well over a century. His great merit was his ability to treat his subject in an orderly and methodical manner, for he had a capacity to think clearly and an ability to work without tiring. Quiet and reserved, he can be remembered in William Harvey's (1578-1657)) words concerning him: "a rare industrious man."


  • Gynaeciorum sive de mulierum affectibus commentarii.
    4 volumes, Basiliae, per T. Guarinum, 1586-1588.
    An enlarged version of a work by Caspar Wolff (1525-1601), now edited by Bauhin:
  • Volumen gynaeciorum, hoc est, de mulierum tum aliis, tum gravidarum, parientium puerperarum affectibus et morbis. Basilea, per T. Guarinum, 1566.
    The first encyclopaedia of gynaecology and obstetrics, originally conceived by Conrad Gesner (1516-1565), who collected material for the purpose. Wolff, Gesner's literary executor, added material and published the collection one year after Gesner's death.
  • Francisci Rousseti liber de partu caesaro.
    With: Appendix varias et novas historias continens etc.
    Basel 1582, 1586, 1588, 1591.
    Referring to a work by François Rousset (1535-1590?), an advocate of cesarian section:
  • Traitte nouveau de l'hysterotomotokie, ou enfantement césarien, qui est extraction de l'enfant par incision latérale du ventre et matrice de la femme grosse etc. Paris : Denys du Val, 1581.
    Rousset records 15 successful Caesarean sections carried out by various persons during the preceding 80 years.
  • De humani corporis partibus externis hoc est universalis methodi anatomicae ... liber 1 etc. Basel, 1588, 1591, 1592.
  • Theatrum anatomicum infinitis locis auctum, ad morbos accommodatum etc.
    Basilea, S. Henric Petri, 1592. Frankfurt am Main : Matthäus Becker, 1605.
    New edition with major additions in 1621.
    The 131 anatomical engravings are taken from the anatomies of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), Juan Valverde de Amusco (1525-1588), Bartolomeo Eustachi (1510-1574), Volcher Coiter (1534-1576) and other anatomists. William Harvey (1578-1657) chose this work as the basis for his Lumleian Lectures to London's College of Physicians in 1616. The frontspiece of the 1605 Frankfurt edition reads:
    Caspari Bauhini Basileensis
    Theatrum Anatomicum
    Novis figuris aeneis illustratum
    et in lucem emissum opera
    & sumptibus Theodori de Bry
    p. m. relicta viduae & filiorum
    Ioannis Theodori &
    Ioannis Israelis de Bry
    Francofurti at Moenum
    typis Mathhæi Beckeri
    Anno 1605.
  • De corporis humani fabrica lib. IV etc. Basel, 1590, 1600.
  • Anatomes liber secyndus etc. Basel, 1591, 1592, 1596,
  • Phytopinax. 1596. His first major botanical work
  • Anatomica corporis virilis et muliebris historia. Lugduni, J. le Preux, 1597.
  • Praeludia anatomica. Basel, 1601.
  • Introductio pulsuum synopsin continens. 1602.
  • De ossium natura. 1604.
  • Institutiones anatomicae corporis virilis et muliebris historiam proponentes.
    Basel, 1592, 1609; Lyon, 1597; Bern, 1604; Frankfurt, 1616, 1618; Oppenheim, 1629.
  • Theatrum anatomicum infinitis locis auctum, ad morbos accommodatum etc.
    Basel, 1592; Frankfurt 1621.
  • Institutiones Anatomicae Corporis Virilis et Muliebris Historiam exhibentes... Hippocrat. Aristotel. Galeni auctoritat. illustratae & novis inventis plurimis auctae. Additis novis aliquot figuris & indice.
    Lyons: Apud Joannem le Preux, 1604. The best edition of his De corporis humani (1890), with new illustrations and an index.
  • Institutiones anatomicae Hippocratis, Aristotelis, Galeni auctoritate illustratae. Basel, 1604, 1609, 1640; Frankfurt, 1616.
  • De hermaphroditorum monstrosorumque partuum natura etc.
    Frankfurt, 1604, 1629; Oppenheim, 1614.
  • De compositione medicamentorum.
    Offenbach, 1610. Frankfurt, 1610; Oppenheim, 1614.
  • De remediorum formulis, Graecis, Arabibus et Latinis usitatis etc.
    Frankfurt, 1619.
  • Vivae imagines corporis humani, aenis formis expressae etc.
    Basel, 1620; Frankfurt, 1640.
  • Pinax theatri botanica. 1623. [Illustrated Exposition of Plants]
    A landmark of botanical history. In this work Bauhin described some 6 000 species and classified them, the fruit of 40 years of work. In Pinax Bauhin discarded the old alphabetical manner of enumeration and stated that any sound method of classification must be based on affinities. It is noteworthy for including a compilation of all of the names by which a given plant was known. He introduced many names of genera that were later adopted by Linnaeus, and remain in use. Biographical etc:
  • August Hirsch (1817-1894), publisher:
    Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte aller Zeiten und Völker.
    2nd edition. Berlin, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1929.
    First published in 6 volumes 1884-1888. 3rd edition, München 1962.
  • Martin Plessner (1900-1973):
    Bauhin, Gaspar. In: Charles Coulston Gillispie, editor in chief: Dictionary of Scientific Biographies. Charles Scribner’s Sons. New York, 1970. Volume 1, pages 522-525.
  • C. Gysel:
    [Gaspard Bauhin and the problem of the development of the dentition at the end of the Renaissance].
    Artcle in French. L'Orthodontie Française, Lyon, 1976, 47 (0): 461-482.

  • R. A. Kyle, M. A. Shampo:
    Gaspard Bauhin.
    JAMA : The Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, September 14, 1979, 242 (11): 1162.
  • Heirs of Hippocrates. Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries. Iowas City, 1980
  • Encyclopædica Britannica. 1986.
  • Richard Toellner:
    Illustrierte Geschichte der Medizin. Andreas & Andreas Verlag, Salzburg, 1990.
    [Histoire de la Médicine, de la Pharmacie, de l'Art Dentaire et de l'Art V'et'erinaire.] Paris 1978.

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