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Malpighi, Marcello (1628-1694)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 MS 103
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Malpighi, Marcello (1628-1694)
Date(s): 1668-1693
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Two volumes
Name of creator(s): Malpighi | Marcello | 1628-1694 | anatomist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Marcello Malpighi was born in Crevalcore, Bologna, of Marcantonio Malpighi and Maria Cremonini. He entered the University of Bologna in 1646, where his tutor, the peripatetic philosopher Francesco Natali, suggested he study medicine. He graduated as doctor of philosphy and medicine in 1653, and from 1656 accepted the chair of theoretical medicine at Pisa, where his stay was fundamental to the formation of his science. He was influenced by Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, then Professor of Mathematics at Pisa, through whom he entered the orbit of the school of Galileo. In 1659 he returned to Bologna, where with Carlo Fracassati he continued to conduct dissections and vivisections, in the course of which he used the microscope to make fundamental discoveries about the lungs. These he communicated to Borelli. His observations not only identified a structure for the pulmonary parenchyma, but also confirmed the theory of the circulation of the blood and ensured the theory's acceptance. In 1662 he returned to Messina where he held the chair of medicine, and enthusiatically continued his researches on fundamental structures, publishing his findings in treatises relating to neurology, adenology, and hematology. He established the capillary circulation and a mechanism to explain hematosis; he defined and systematized a nervous mechanism which included a highly accute sensory receptors; and performed an analysis of the blood, discovering the red corpuscles. He studied aberrations to cast light on normal organisms, and studied simple animals to understand more complex ones. He applied his methodological formulation in his work on the silkworm in 1669, and in the later embryological and botanical works edited by the Royal Society. In 1666 he went back to Bologna, and in 1667 he agreed to undertake scientific correspondence with the Royal Society of London, and the Society subsequently supervised the printing of all his later works. His study of plants, the Anatome Planatarum, appeared in London in two parts, in 1675 and 1679, and with Nathaniel Gre earned him acclaim as the founder of the microscopic study of plant anatomy. He was Chief Physician to Pope Innocent XII, 1691-1694. In his work on medical anatomy he shaped the work of at least two generations, Albertini and Valsalva being his pupils, and their pupil Mortgagni continuing Malpighi's work. He also made considerable contributions to vegetable pathology, as in plant galls, and wrote an important methodological work supporting rational medicine against the empiricists.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letters, papers and original drawings including the manuscripts of Marcello Malpighi's works published by the Royal Society.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Volume One of papers in date order; Volume Two of four manuscripts sent for publishing to Royal Society in date order.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to Archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

List of contents at front of each volume. Letters catalogued in Archive card catalogue.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated by Malpighi.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description produced by the Royal Society and revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 27/05/2002, modified 24/06/2002, revised Sep 2002

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