PHILLIPUS THEOPHRASTUS BOMBASTUS VON HOHBNHEIM, who afterwards assumed the name Paracelsus to indicate that he believed himself as great a physician as Celsus, was born towards the end of 1493 at Einsiedeln in Switzerland, then part of Germany. His father was a practising physician of repute and his teaching laid the foundation of the medical career of the son. Of the early life of Paracelsus nothing is known beyond conjecture until 1526, when he appeared at Strasburg as a physician, described as doctor and admitted to citizen rights and to a Guild of Surgeons. He studied medicine, but it is not known how. In his writings he emphasizes that he got most of his useful knowledge from artisans and from the humbler assistants of the medical profession, whom he rates higher than the schools. On the other hand, he also once stated on oath that he had become a doctor of the University of Ferrara, and it is difficult to understand his short–lived official appointments unless he was properly qualified. Besides his medical knowledge, Paracelsus also says he had great experience for a long time with many alchemists and metallurgists, and he undoubtedly visited many mines and smelteries in his travels some time about 1514. These travels probably took in most European countries, including England, at various times, but those further afield are doubtful.

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PARTINGTON, J. PARACELSUS(1493–1541). Nature 148, 332–334 (1941).

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