Amatus Lusitanus

(João Rodrigues de Castelo Branco)
(1511–68)
   Portuguese physician. Amatus was born in Castelo Branco, Portugal, of Marrano parents who had come from Spain. He studied medicine in Salamanca and obtained his degree around 1530. Because of the increasing harassment of Marranos in Portugal, he moved to Antwerp in 1534. There he practised until 1540, when he was invited to Ferrara University to take up the chair of medicine, remaining for seven years in a city which was then a centre of religious and scientific freedom. He settled in Ancona in 1547. So highly regarded was he that he was called to Rome on several occasions to treat Pope Julius III and frequently journeyed to other cities and monasteries in Italy at the request of important patients.
   Amatus published his first work, on Dioscorides’ medical botany, in Antwerp in 1536. A more detailed commentary on Dioscorides, published in 1553 in Venice, earned him the enduring animosity of the famous Viennese botanist Matthioli, whose mistakes he pointed out in his work. Enraged at his criticism, Matthioli accused Amatus of heresy. This charge formed the basis for the attack on Amatus’ home in 1555 when the new pope, Paul IV, revived decrees against the Marranos. Amatus escaped to Ragusa (Dubrovnik) in 1556 and two years later moved to Salonika, a great Jewish centre where he openly professed Judaism. After ten years practising, he died during a plague.
   Amatus’ major work, the seven-volume collection of case histories called Centuriae, went into many editions and was quoted for several centuries. His prominence in clinical anatomy, internal medicine and dermatology is apparent in his works, and he was also a pioneer researcher into mental illness. The nobility of his character is revealed through his ‘Hippocratic’ oath, delivered in Salonika in 1559, in which he states: ‘I have given my services in equal manner to all, to Hebrews, Christians and Moslems. Loftiness of station has never influenced me and I have accorded the same care to the poor as to those of exalted rank.’

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Amatus Lusitanus — (1511 68)    Portuguese physician. Born in Portugal of marrano parents, he went to Antwerp, where he published a book on medicinal botany, Index dioscorides. He later taught medicine at the University of Ferrara and treated Pope Julius III. His… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

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