Pierre Belon - Encyclopedia


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PIERRE BELON (1517-1564), French naturalist, was born about 1517 near Le Mans (Sarthe). He studied medicine at Paris, where he took the degree of doctor, and then became a pupil of the botanist Valerius Cordus (1515-1544) at Wittenberg, with whom he travelled in Germany. On his return to France he was taken under the patronage of Cardinal de Tournon, who furnished him with means for undertaking an extensive scientific journey. Starting in 1546, he travelled through Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia and Palestine, and returned in 1549. A full account of his travels, with illustrations, was published in 1 553. Belon, who was highly favoured both by Henry II. and by Charles IX., was assassinated at Paris one evening in April 1564, when coming through the Bois de Boulogne. Besides the narrative of his travels he wrote several scientific works of considerable value, particularly the Histoire naturelle des estranges poissons (1551), De aquatilibus (1553), and L'Histoire de la nature des oyseaux (1555), which entitle him to be regarded as one of the first workers in the science of comparative anatomy.

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