JACOB BREYNIUS - 'BOTANICUS-CELEBERRIMUS' (1637-1697). HIS LIFE, INTERNATIONAL TIES, WORKS AND THEIR RECEPTION
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The paper is part of a broader study devoted to the botanist Jacob Breynius, who stands alongside Johann Hevelius as one of the most eminent scholars of the Gdansk (Danzig) milieu in the 17th century, when the city formed part of the Commonwealth of Two Nations - Poland and Lithuania. The life and work of Breynius have been the focus of interest and publications in the fields of history of botany, history of bookmaking and printing, and botanical illustration, however, even not all of the data contained in his major work 'Exoticarum aliarumque minus cognitarum planatrum centuria prima' have yet been fully exploited. Jacob Breynius was born to a Calvinist family from Brabant, which had had to emigrate and had been dispersed across Europe. Jacob's father was a merchant, and so was Jacob himself, but in addition to that, he was also an amateur scientist and a real botany buff, one of the few botanists at that time who did not have a medical background. He acquired an education in the field of his choice in his hometown of Gdansk and at Leiden and developed his passion for botany throughout his life, thanks to lively contacts, mainly with Dutch scholars (but he refused an offer to accept a chair at Leiden university). All of Breynius's publications are analysed: twenty-six observations published in 'Miscellanea Curiosa Medico-Physica' between 1673-1676, the above-mentioned Centuria, which has never been discussed before, Prodromus I (Gdansk 1680), Prodromus II (Gdansk 1689), as well as Prodromi and Icones, re-editions and supplements to Breynius's works made after his death. In 'Centuria' Breynius discussed and presented, on exquisite copperplate charts, one hundred plants (mostly exotic), which had come to be known thanks to Dutch explorations all over the world (almost half of the plants derived from the lands in the vicinity of Cape of Good Hope). The paper focuses on the contacts Breynius had with the international community of scholars - beginning with his teachers, through patrons, all the way to friends and collaborators among his relatives, Gdansk burghers and Dutch scholars. The last section of the paper is devoted to the citations and assessments of Breynius's works until the middle of the 18th century found in later works and in Linnaeus's work. In their light, the work of the botanist from Gdansk acquires a deserved European dimension, reflected in the fact that Breynius was designated 'botanicus celeberrimus' by later generations of scholars.
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