Otto Brunfels

Otto Brunfels
Otto Brunfels
Born 1488
Died 23 December 1534
Bern, Switzerland
Education University of Mainz
Church Lutheran
Writings Catalogi virorum illustrium

Otto Brunfels (also known as Brunsfels or Braunfels) (believed to be born in 1488 near Mainz - December 23, 1534 in Bern, Switzerland) was a German theologian and botanist. Carl von Linné listed him among the "Fathers of Botany".



After studying theology and philosophy at the University of Mainz, Brunfels entered a Carthusian monastery in Mainz and later resettled to another Carthusian monastery at Königshofen near Strasbourg. In Strasbourg he got in contact with a learned lawyer Nikolaus Gerbel (they met in person in 1519). Gerbel drew Brunfels' attention to the healing powers of plants and thus gave the impetus to the further botanical investigations.

Helloborus niger from Herbarum vivae eicones

After the conversion to the Protestantism (he was supported by Franz von Sickingen and Ulrich von Hutten), upon the insistence of the Dean of Frankfurt Johann Indagine, Brunfels became a minister at Steinau an der Straße (1521) and later, in Neuenburg am Rhein. After that he served for eight years as the head of a Carmelite school in Strasbourg. In the list of most important heretics published by the order of the Emperor by the University of Leuven (1550), Brunfels was listed first.

In one of his works he defended Ulrich von Hutten against Erasmus of Rotterdam and published the manuscripts from the Jan Hus heritage. Brunfels' Catalogi virorum illustrium 1527 is considered to be the first book on the history of evangelical Church.

After his friend Ulrich von Hutten had died (1523), Brunfels' religious views brought him into a controversy with Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli. Later on he began to study medicine at the University of Basel, (M.D. 1530). In 1532 Brunfels became a City physician in Bern, where he stayed till the end of his life.

Besides of his numerous theological works, Brunfels published treatises on pedagogics, Arabic language, pharmaceutics, entomology[1] and botany. He is often called a father of botany, because, in his botanical writings, he relied not so much on the ancient authors as on his own observations and described plants according to the latter. In his Herbarium vivae icones (1530 and 1536, in three parts) and Contrafayt Kräuterbuch (1532-1537, in two parts), the German plants he himself found during his botanical studies are represented with woodcuts (by Hans Weiditz) under their German vernacular names. However, Duane Isely attributes much of Brunfels' popularity to Weiditz, whose woodcuts set a new standard technically, and were done from life, rather being copied from previous works. Brunfels also introduced information about German plants not found in Dioscorides, and described them independently of their medical values, although the descriptions are often poorly-written.

A plant genus Brunfelsia (Solanaceae) is named after him.


Plate from Herbarium vivae eicones
  • Othonis Brvnfelsii Pro Vlricho Hutteno defuncto ad Erasmi Roter. Spongiam Responsio (1523)
  • Processus consistorialis Martyrii Io. Huss (1524); German edition: Geistl. Bluthandel Iohannis Hussz zu Constenz (1524 or 1525)
  • Pandectarum Veteris et Novi Testamenti (1527)
  • Catalogi virorum illustrium veteris et novi testamenti (1527)
  • Catechesis puerorum in fide, in literis et in moribus (1529)
  • Herbarum vivae eicones, 3 Bde. (1530-36)
  • Catalogus illustrium medicorum seu de primis medicinae scriptoribus (1530)
  • Iatron medicamentorum simplicium (1533)
  • Contrafayt Kreüterbuch (mit naturgetreuen Abb. v. Hans Weiditz), 2 Vol., (1532-1537)
  • Onomastikon medicinae, continens omnia nomina herbarum, fruticum etc. (1534)
  • Epitome medices, summam totius medicinae complectens (1540)
  • In Dioscoridis historiam plantarum certissima adaptatio (1543)


  • Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888-1889
  • Jahn, I. Geschichte der Biologie. Spektrum 2000
  • Mägdefrau, K. Geschichte der Botanik. Fischer 1992
  • Duane Isely, One hundred and one botanists (Iowa State University Press, 1993), pp. 17–19

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Otto Brunfels — im Alter von 46 Jahren Otto Brunfels (auch Brunsfels oder Braunfels) (* 1488 in Mainz; † 23. November 1534 in Bern, Schweiz) war ein deutscher Theologe, Humanist, Mediziner und Botaniker. Sein offizielles botanisches Autorenkürzel lautet „ …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Otto Brunfels — Nacimiento 1488 Maguncia, Alemania Fallecimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Otto Brunfels — à 46 ans. Otto Brunfels (ou Otho Braunfels, Othon Brunfels), né vers 1488 près de Mayence et mort le 25 novembre 1534 à Berne, est un botaniste allemand. Avec Hieronymus Bock dit Tragus, Leonhart Fuchs et …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Brunfels — Otto Brunfels im Alter von 46 Jahren Otto Brunfels (auch Brunsfels oder Braunfels) (* 1488 in Mainz; † 23. November 1534 in Bern, Schweiz) war ein deutscher Theologe, Humanist, Mediziner und Botaniker. Sein offizielles botanisches Autorenkürzel… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Brunfels — Brunfels, Otto, so v.w. Brunsfels …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Brunfels — (Brunsfels), Otto, Botaniker (nach Linnés Ausspruch »der Vater der Botanik«), geb. 1488 in Mainz, gest. 23. Nov. 1534 in Bern, studierte Theologie, trat in ein Kartäuserkloster bei Mainz, ging dann aber nach Straßburg, wurde lutherischer Prediger …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Brunfels, Otto — ▪ German botanist born c. 1488, , Mainz [Germany] died Nov. 23, 1534, Bern, Switz.       botanist, considered by Carolus Linnaeus to be one of the founders of modern botany.       Brunfels entered the Carthusian monastery in Strassburg in 1514 as …   Universalium

  • Herbarium vivae Eicones — es una obra escrita por el botánico Otto Brunfels (1489 1535) y publicada en Estrasburgo en 1530. Fue el primero de una serie de tratados sobre plantas que se escribieron en Europa en aquel período en los que, si bien se utilizaba como base la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Брунфельс, Отто — Отто Брунфельс в возрасте 46 лет …   Википедия

  • Список ботаников по их сокращениям —   Это сл …   Википедия

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