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May 5, 2021
17th Century Theophile Bonnet

Theophile Bonnet (1620-1689)

Sepulchretum,sive anatomia practica ex cadaveribus morbo denatis. Genevae L. Chouet, 1679.

Theophile Bonnet
Portrait of Theophile Bonnet
Portrait of Theophile Bonnet


Theophile Bonnet was a physician from Paris and contributed extensively to the field of pathology.

Sepulchretum,sive anatomia practica  was his most important work and first published in 1679.

This monumental work is considered the greatest publication in  pathology during the 17th century.  It is a large collection of more than 3000 postmortem cases with reference to more than 400 writers. The second edition, which was published in 1700, is considered by most historians, the best edition as it includes more information with correction of some of the mistakes that appeared in the first edition.  This treatise is described as the foundation for the great work of Giovanni Morgagni, "De Sedibus," which was published later in 1761. The "Sepulchretum" has not been translated into English.

Each recorded disease from ancient to contemporary times was reviewed and briefly analyzed. They were arranged either by anatomic classification and subdivided by clinical symptoms or simply by alphabetic order.

Bonnet's historical monograph is divided into 4 books. The first book relates to the head whereas the second book focuses on the chest. Book III deals with diabetes, abdominal diseases such as hernia.  Finally, book IV discusses symptoms such as fever, tumors, and fractures and its treatment.

Giovanni Lancisi described in his De Motu Aneurysmatibus that Theophile Bonnet had reported in "Anatomia  Practica," lib. II. Sect. VII. Observ. XLIX a case of aortic valve stenosis with the dilatation of the left atrium. In his monograph, Lancisi stated the following quote from Bonnet's treatise: "when the semilunar valves in the left sinus of the heart had been found to be ossified, the left auricle proved to be larger than the right auricle."

Bonnet's recorded observation is depicted here.

It has also been reported that Bonnet described two cases of sudden death, one secondary to obstructive coronary artery disease and one related to ossified stenotic aortic valve:

"A Parisian tailor, not yet old, having dined and left his house had walked hardly forty paces when he suddenly fell to the ground and expired. His body was opened and no disease was found except that the three semilunar cusps leading to the aorta were bony."


Lancisi GM.  De motu cordis et aneurysmatibus. Rome, j.m. Salvioni, 1728

White PD. Heart disease. New York, MacMillan, 1951


Richard Lower John Mayow