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Better known by his Latin name Mercurialis, famous philologist and physician, b. at Forli, 30 September, 1530; d. there, 13 November, 1606. His preliminary studies and some of his medical courses were taken at Bologna, but he received his degree at Padua and then settled down to practice in Forli. He was sent by his townfolk on a political mission to Paul IV and made such good friends at Rome that he was persuaded to take up his residence there. He studied the old classic medical writers for some seven years and then wrote is "De arte gymnastica", in which he gathered all that the ancients had taught with regard to the use of natural methods for the cure of disease. This gave him a great reputation throughout Europe. Appreciation of it by the Venetian senators led to his call to the chair of medicine of Padua in 1569. Here he devoted himself to the critical study of the works of Hippocrates. His exhaustive monograph, "Censura e dispositio operum Hippocratis" (Venice, 1583), enhanced his reputation and he began the preparation of a critical study of Hippocrates' works in Greek and Latin, which was published at Venice, 1588. In the meantime his reputation had gone abroad, and in 1573 he was called to Vienna for consultation during the illness of Emperor Maximilian. The emperor was so pleased with his service that he made him Count Palatine. After the publication of further works on the medical classics, he was called in 1587 to the chair of medicine in Bologna. The Grand Duke of Tuscany was sparing no effort to increase the prestige of the University of Pisa, so he tempted Mercurialis to accept the chair of medicine there by the offer of a salary probably the largest ever paid to a professor up to this time, 1800 gold crowns to become 2000 crowns after the second year. He remained at Pisa till his seventy-fifth year when he retired to Forli. His great merit is his critical study of the ancient medical classics, especially Hippocrates and his disciples. He wrote many other medical works including text books of the diseases of children, of women, of the skin, and on practical medicine; all of which were widely read and used in many of the medical schools of his time.
Dictionnaire historique de la Medecine (Mons, 1778); BRAMBILLA, Storia delle scoperte fatte dagli uomini illustri Italiani (Milan, 1780); Biographie medicale (Paris, 1824).
JAMES J. WALSH