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Acta Hist Leopoldina. 2008;(49):13-41.

[Johann Laurentius Bausch and Philipp Jacob Sachs of Lewenhaimb. Foundation of the Academia Naturae]].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Stadtarchiv und -bibliothek, Schweinfurt.


The biographical notes of the two municipal physicians of Schweinfurt, Leonhard Bausch (1574 to 1636) and Johann Laurentius Bausch (1605-1665) and another three physicians (Johann Michael Fehr, Georg Balthasar Wohlfarth and Georg Balthasar Metzger) who founded the Academia Naturae Curiosorum together with the younger Bausch in 1652, show that this founding was initiated by a surprisingly homogenous group, sharing the same social, educational and professional background as well as ancestral and acquired experiences. They all had been influenced by the immigration fate of their families, the rapid rise to the politically or academically educated elite in the imperial city of Schweinfurt, worn out by war and plagues. They all had studied at universities in protestant territories of the Holy Roman Empire, finishing with an educational journey (peregrinatio academica), usually to Italy. Experience of the flourishing university life beyond the frontiers of the Holy Roman Empire laid waste by the "Teutsche Krieg", the great variety of academies in Italy, the narrowness of contemporary medicine and the inability of the individual to explore the immense variety of nature: all this leads to the founding of the Academia Naturae Curiosorum and it is the point of reference of the founding documents of 1651/1652, which were first printed in 1662 (Salve Academicum). What is innovative about this is not the establishment of an academy but the desired aim and the way of achieving this. The tenor of these documents--to medically explore the variety of the divine "res naturals" in a cooperative and regulated way for the benefit of medicine and mankind and to publish the results in monographes (utilitas by curiositas)--was condensed by the later Leopoldina to the still used motto "to explore nature for the benefit of mankind". Due to Breslau's municipal physician Philipp Jacob Sachs von Lewenhaimb (1627 - 1672) the publishing activities of the academy came into being. But before the death of BAUSCH only three titles could be published ad normam et formam Academiae Naturae Curiosorum in the context of the work programme: Sachs' Ampelographia (1661), Gammarologia (1665) and Bausch's Haematite et Aetite (1665). The way to international exchange, essentially created by SACHS, led to a new definition of academic tasks by critically reflecting other models (London, Paris, and Florence). Out of this reform process emerged the new Leges with 21 paragraphs (published in 1671). The new concept focussed on the issue of the journal exclusively for medicine and natural science as well as the striving for imperial recognition and privileges. The first volume of the Ephemerides could be presented in 1670: Miscellanea curiosa medico-physica Academiae Naturae Curiosorum sive Ephemeridum medico-physicarum Germanicarum curiosarum annus primus. The new journal, which is still published today under the title Nova Acta Leopoldina, represented the way to a successful future without completely abandoning the original concept of monographes. The imperial privileges (confirmation as imperial academy, confirmation of Leges, privilege to ban reprints) could be achieved in 1677. The privilege of Emperor Leopold I. of 7 August 1687 finally brought the academy, 35 years after it was founded, a coat of arms and imperial title--Sacri Romani Imperii Academia Caesareo-Leopoldina Naturae Curiosorum. President and Director Ephemeridum and their successors were raised to imperial personal physicians and nobility, combined with the title and rights of palatinate court ("Hofpfalzgrafen"), which also included the right to award doctorates.

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