World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ulisse Aldrovandi

Ulisse Aldrovandi
Born 11 September 1522
Died 4 May 1605(1605-05-04) (aged 82)
Fields Naturalist
Alma mater University of Padua
Notable students Volcher Coiter

Ulisse Aldrovandi (11 September 1522 – 4 May 1605) was an comte de Buffon reckoned him the father of natural history studies. He is usually referred to, especially in older literature, as Aldrovandus; his name in Italian is equally given as Aldroandi.[1]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Arrest for heresy 2
  • Natural history work 3
    • Botanic garden 3.1
    • Collections 3.2
  • List of works 4
  • Honors 5
  • Gallery 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life and education

Aldrovandi was born in Bologna to a noble family, which sent him to apprentice with merchants, but he found his vocation, after studying humanities and law at the universities of Bologna and Padua and becoming a notary. Successively his interests extended to philosophy and logic which he combined with the study of medicine.

He obtained a degree in medicine and philosophy in 1553 and started teaching logic and philosophy in 1554 at the University of Bologna. In 1559 he became professor of philosophy and in 1561 he became the first professor of natural sciences at Bologna (lectura philosophiae naturalis ordinaria de fossilibus, plantis et animalibus).

Arrest for heresy

In June 1549 he was accused and arrested for heresy, for espousing the anti-trinitarian beliefs of the Anabaptist Camillo Renato. By September he had published an abjuration, but was transferred to Rome, and remained in custody or house arrest till absolved in April 1550. During this time he befriended many local scholars. While in semi-captivity there he became more and more interested in botany, zoology and geology (he is credited for the invention/first written record of this word [2]). From 1551 onward, he organized a variety of expeditions to the Italian mountains, countryside, islands, and coasts in order to collect and catalogue plants.

Natural history work

From Ornithologiae, 1599

In the course of his life he would assemble one of the most spectacular cabinets of curiosities, his "theatre" illuminating herbarium, among the first botanizing expeditions. Eventually his herbarium contained about 4760 dried specimens on 4117 sheets in sixteen volumes, preserved at the University of Bologna. He also had various artists, including Jacopo Ligozzi, Giovanni Neri, and Cornelio Schwindt, make illustrations of specimens.

Botanic garden

At his demand and under his direction a public botanic garden was created in Bologna in 1568, now the Orto Botanico dell'Università di Bologna.[3] Due to a dispute on the composition of a popular medicine with the pharmacists and doctors of Bologna in 1575 he was suspended from all public position for five years. In 1577 he sought the aid of pope Gregory XIII (a cousin of his mother) who wrote to the authorities of Bologna to reinstate Aldrovandi in his public offices and request financial aid to help him publish his books.


His vast collections in botany and zoology he willed to the Senate of Bologna; until 1742 the collections were conserved in the Palazzo Pubblico, then in the Palazzo Poggi, but were distributed among various libraries and institutions in the course of the nineteenth century. In 1907 a representative part were reunited at Palazzo Poggi, Bologna, where the 400th anniversary of his death was memorialized in a celebrative exhibition in 2005.

List of works

Of the several hundred books and essays he wrote, only a handful were published during his lifetime:

  • Antidotarii Bononiensis, siue de vsitata ratione componendorum, miscendorumque medicamentorum, epitome (1574)
  • Ornithologiae, hoc est de avibus historia (Bologna, 1599) 1637 edition
  • Ornithologiae tomus alter cum indice copiosissimo (Bologna, 1600)
  • De animalibus insectis libri septem, cum singulorum iconibus ad viuum expressis (Bologna, 1602) [11] 1637 edition
  • Ornithologiae tomus tertius, ac postremus (Bologna, 1603) [12] 1637 edition
  • De reliquis animalibus exanguibus libri quatuor (Bologna, 1606) [13]
  • De piscibus libri V, et De cetis lib. vnus (Bologna, 1613) [14]
  • Quadrupedum omnium bisulcorum historia (Bologna, 1621) [15]
  • Serpentum, et draconum (Bologna, 1640) (Natural History of Snakes and Dragons) [16]
  • Monstrorum historia cum Paralipomenis historiae omnium animalium (Bologna, 1642) [17] Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf (Bononiae, 1658)
  • Musaeum metallicum in libros IV distributum Bartholomaeus Ambrosinus (Bologna, 1648) [18]
  • Dendrologiae naturalis scilicet arborum historiae libri duo sylua glandaria, acinosumq (Bologna, 1667) [19].




  1. ^ As in the title page of his Le antichita de la citta di Roma brevissimamente raccolte, 1556.
  2. ^ Four centuries of the word geology: Ulisse Aldrovandi 1603 in Bologna
  3. ^ Conan 2005, p. 96.
  4. ^ "'"Author Query for 'Aldrovandi.  

Further reading

  • Castellani, Carlo (1970). "Ulisse Aldrovandi".  
  • Findlen, Paula (1994). Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  • Conan, Michel, ed. (2005). Baroque garden cultures: emulation, sublimation, subversion. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.  
  • Ulisse Aldrovandi e la Toscana: carteggio e testimonianze documentarie, Alessandro Tosi (ed.), Olschki, Firenze 1989

External links

  • De Avibus Historiae (1666)
  • AMS Historica – Ulisse Aldrovandi – University of Bologna
  • Homepage of the Aldrovandi museum in Bologna
  • Michon Scott, "Ulisse Aldrovandi"
  • "Celebrazione per il IV centenario..." (in Italian)
  • "Erbari essicati"
  • Braque du Bourbonnais by Aldrovandi
  • Ulisse Aldrovandi at
  • Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries High resolution images of works by and/or portraits of Ulisse Aldrovandi in .jpg and .tiff format.
  • [20] "Ornithologiae ... libri XII" at the GDZ (Latin)
  • Serpentum, et draconum historiae libri duo (1640) - digital facsimile from Linda Hall Library
  • Musaeum Metallicum (1648) - digital facsimile from Linda Hall Library
  • Ornithologiae (3 vols., 1599) - digital facsimiles from Linda Hall Library
  • De quadrupedib.' digitatis viviparis libri tres... (1663) - digital facsimile from Linda Hall Library

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.