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John Caius: Wikis


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John Caius

Born 6 October 1510(1510-10-06)
Norwich, England
Died 29 July 1573 (aged 62)
London, England
Nationality England
Fields Medicine
Institutions Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Alma mater College of Physicians

John Caius (pronounced /ˈkiːz/)[1] (6 October 1510 – 29 July 1573), also known as Johannes Caius, was an English physician, and second founder of the present Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.




Early years

Caius was born in Norwich and in 1529 was admitted as a student at what was then Gonville Hall, Cambridge, founded by Edmund Gonville in 1348, where he seems to have mainly studied divinity. After graduating in 1533,[2] he visited Italy, where he studied under the celebrated Montanus and Vesalius at Padua; and in 1541 he took his degree in physic at Padua. In 1543 he visited several parts of Italy, Germany and France and then returned to England.


The Gate of Honour, Caius Court, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Caius was a physician in London in 1547, and was admitted as a fellow of the College of Physicians, of which he was for many years president. In 1557, at that time physician to Queen Mary, he enlarged the foundation of his old college, changed the name from "Gonville Hall" to "Gonville and Caius College," and endowed it with several considerable estates, adding an entire new court at the expense of £1,834. He accepted the mastership of this college 24 January 1558 to 1959 on the death of Dr Bacon, and held it till about a month before his own death. He was physician to Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. He returned to Cambridge from London for a few days in June 1573, about a month before his death, and resigned the mastership to Dr Legge, a tutor at Jesus College. He died at his London house, in St Bartholomew's, on 29 July 1573, but his body was brought to Cambridge, and buried in the chapel under the well-known monument which he had designed.

Caius was a learned, active and benevolent man. In 1557 he erected a monument in St Paul's Cathedral to the memory of Thomas Linacre. In 1564, he obtained a grant for Gonville and Caius College to take the bodies of two malefactors annually for dissection; he was thus an important pioneer in advancing the science of anatomy. He probably devised, and certainly presented, the silver caduceus now in the possession of Caius College as part of its insignia; he first gave it to the College of Physicians, and afterwards presented the London College with another.

He was also a pioneer naturalist, prepared to make his own observations about nature rather than simply relying on accepted authorities. He was ready to make journeys about the country to see and record unusual animals. He corresponded with the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner, with whom he had made friends while returning from Padua. He wrote a study of British Dogs to send to Gesner as a contribution (not used) to his Historiae Animalium, and also sent him drawings of dogs, which were printed in later editions of Gesner's work.[3]

Caius is believed to be the inspiration for the character of Dr Caius in Shakespeare's play the Merry Wives of Windsor.

See also


  • Annals of the College from 1555 to 1572
  • translation of several of Galen's works, printed at different times abroad.
  • Hippocrates de Medicamentis, first discovered and published by Dr Caius; also De Ratsone Vicius (Lov. 1556, 8vo)
  • De Mendeti Methodo (Basel, 1554; London, 1556, Svo)
  • Account of the Sweating Sickness in England (London, 1556, 1721), (it is entitled De Ephemera Britannica)
  • History of the University of Cambridge (London, 1568, 8vo; 1574, 4to, in Latin)
  • De Thermis Britannicis; but it is doubtful whether this work was ever printed
  • Of Some Rare Plants and Animals (London, 1570)
  • De Canibus Britannicis (1570, 1729)
  • De Pronunciatione Graecae et Latinae Linguae (London, 1574)
  • De Libris propriis (London, 1570).


  1. ^ Caius is a Latinized version of Kees or Keys
  2. ^ Caius, John in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  3. ^ Ash, Edward C. Dogs: their History and Development. Ernest Benn Ltd, London 1927

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Further reading

  • For further details see the Biographical History of Caius College, by Dr John Venn (1897).
  • Caius, John, A Boke or Counseill against the Disease Called the Sweate, London 1552. Facsimile ed., 1937, Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, ISBN 9780820111827.
  • Nutton, V (1985). "John Caius and the Eton Galen: medical philology in the Renaissance". Medizinhistorisches Journal 20 (3): 227–52. PMID 11616032.  
  • Nutton, V (October 1979). "John Caius and the Linacre tradition". Medical History 23 (4): 373–91. PMID 390265.  
  • Cooke, A M (July 1973). "Dr John Caius, 1510-1573". Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 7 (4): 365–71. PMID 4577633.  
  • ALBERTI, F (October 1961). "Anatomy in London. Anatomic teaching in London and John CAIUS, student of the Padua School before Harvey". Minerva Med. 52: Varia 1893–6. PMID 13860128.  
  • O'MALLEY, C D (April 1955). "The relations of John Caius with Andreas Vesalius and some incidental remarks on the Giunta Galen and on Thomas Geminus". Journal of the history of medicine and allied sciences 10 (2): 147–72. doi:10.1093/jhmas/X.2.147. PMID 14367793.  
  • WOHLFARTH, P (December 1954). "[John Caius and his time.]". Deutsches medizinisches Journal 5 (23-24): 689–93. PMID 14352903.  

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Bacon
Master of Gonville and Caius College
Succeeded by
Thomas Legge


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