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Slavic, East European and Central Asian Collections
Yale University Library Slavic

Croatia: Themes, Authors, Books


Benedetto Cotrugli (Benedikt Kotruljević) (1416-68)

A humanist and businessman from Dubrovnik, Cotrugli lived for most of his creative life outside of his native country, mostly in the service of the court of Alphonso I and Ferdinand I of Naples.

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Written in 1464, is the first comprehensive discourse on navigation in European literature. The dedicatory introduction in Latin is addressed to the Venetian Doge and Senate “Benedictus de Cotrullis Equitis ad Inclitum Senatum Venetorum De navigatione liber Incipit.” The text of the discourse is written in Italian. There are several drawings within the manuscript and some blank pages where he planned to draw maps according to the text. The original manuscript is currently exhibited at the Beinecke Library of Rare Book and Manuscript.

  • De navigatione / O plovidbi (Zagreb: Ex Libris, 2005) Modern edition of the Italian text with Serbo-Croatian translation.


  • Della mercatura et del mercante perfetto (Venice: all’Elefanta, 1573)

In the 15th century Benedikt Kotruljević wrote about commerce and book-keeping. His work about a «perfect mechant» was not only a popular handbook but it was also the first work on double book-keeping. This work, first published in 1573, brought him fame as a «father of modern book-keeping.»


Fausto Veranzio (Faust Vrancić) (1551-1617)

  • Machinæ novæ (Venice 1595; reprint: Munchen: Heinz Moos Verlag, 1965)

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Originally published in Latin, with a hundred pages of text, forty-nine tables of projects and inventions, the book was a great success. Translations in Italian, German, Spanish and French soon followed. Vrančić is often called the “father of parachutes.” Following Leonardo da Vinci’s idea he actually created a flying device by attaching ropes around his “homo volans” and to the cloth roof above his head. He tried to fly thus equipped when he jumped from a Venetian belfry. Miraculously he survived.

Ðuro Baglivi (1668-1707)

Ðuro (Italian Giorgio) Baglivi, a native of Dubrovnik, got his first humanistic education in the Jesuit college of Dubrovnik, where one of his teachers was the lexicographer Ardelio Della Bella. Baglivi was orphaned early in his life. In 1684 the Jesuits sent this talented boy to Italy. He studied medicine in Naples and graduated in 1688. In 1696 he was appointed professor of anatomy at the Rome University, “Sapienza.” That same year he published “De praxi medica”in which he delineated the methods and missions of clinical medicine. This work brought him fame throughout Europe and memberships in the London Royal Society, German Academia Leopoldina and Roman Accademia degli Arcadi. He successfully treated patients and held excellent anatomy lectures based on dissections of corpses. In addition, Baglivi undertook physiological experiments on animals, studied muscle tissues with the aid of a microscope and analyzed the bile and blood of humans and animals. At this time he became the personal physician of Popes Innocent XII and his successor Clement XI. His second seminal work “De fibra motrice et morbosa” was published in 1700, followed in 1702 by his collected works, which appeared in more than twenty editions and were translated into many languages.

Baglivi was the founder of “fibrilar pathology.” He discovered the differences between the smooth and striated muscles. Baglivi stressed the importance of anatomy sections, physiological experiments and clinical study of symptoms. He contributed to the modern clinical understanding of diseases, the systematic description of individual clinical syndromes and the modern classification of illnesses. He wrote about the poisonous tarantula’s bite, which he suggested should be treated with music and vigorous dancing by the afflicted patient.

Baglivi was one of he most authoritative physicians of his time. Although he did not live in his native country he proudly stressed his Dubrovnik roots.

  • Opera omnia medico-practica, et anatomica (Lugduni [Lyon]: Sumptibus Anisson, & Joannis Posuel, 1704). Medical Historical Library, Yale University
  • De praxi medica ad priscam observandi rationem revocanda (Rome: D.A. Herculis, 1696). Medical Historical Library, Yale University

  • The practice of physick (London: Printed for Andr. Bell, Ral. Smith [etc.], 1704). Medical Historical Library, Yale University


Ruđer Bošković (1711-87)

Dubrovnik-born Ruđer Bošković (Italian Ruggero Boscovich) was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer, philosopher, diplomat and poet. Educated at Collegium Ragusinum and the Jesuit Collegium Romanum in Rome, he became a professor of mathematics at Collegium Romanum in 1740. After his studies Bošković joined the Jesuit order. In 1736 he began publishing mathematical, physical and astronomical treatises and continued to do so until his death in Milan in 1787. His main theories proposed in “Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis,” first published in Vienna in 1758, are in harmony with conclusions arrived at by the methods of modern scientific research two centuries later. He wrote about the constitution of matter, the law of gravitational forces, atoms, space and time, relativity, and the theory of light. His work anticipated the modern theories of physics.

  • De solis ac lunae defectibus (Venice: Antonii Zatta, 1761). Medical Historical Library, Yale University

  • Theoria philosophiae naturalis (Venice: Ex Typographia Remondiniana..., 1763). Medical Historical Library, Yale University
  • De lentibus et telescopiis dioptricis (Rome: Ex typographia Antonii de Rubeis, 1755). Medical Historical Library, Yale University
  • De inaequalitatibus quas Saturnus et Jupiter sibi mutuo videntur inducere praesertim circa tempus conjunctionis (Rome: Ex typographia Generosi Salomoni, 1756)
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  • Theoria philosophiae naturalis (Venice: Ex Typographia Remondiniana..., 1763). Medical Historical Library, Yale University
  • Giornale di un viaggio da Costantinopoli in Polonia (Bassano: A spese di Remondini di Venezia, 1784)

In 1761 Bošković was sent by the Academy to Constantinople to observe the passage of the planet Venus in front of the Sun. However, he was delayed in Venice and missed the event. The long return trip with the British Ambassador took them from Constantinople through Bulgaria and Moldova into Poland. Of particular interest in the travelogue is his description of the ruins of Troy.

 Boscovich4_title  Boscovich4_50_51

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

  • Experiments with alternate currents of high potential and high frequency. A lecture delivered before the Institution of electrical engineers, London. With a portrait and biographical sketch of the author. New ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1904)
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  • “My Inventions,” Electrical Experimenter (Feb.-April, 1919)
  • My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla (Williston, Vt.: Hart Bros., 1982)


Lavoslav (Leopold) Stjepan Ružička (1887-1976)

Lavoslav Ruzicka, born in Vukovar, led research in establishing the structure, and non-biological syntheses of many polyterpenes with characteristic odors, such as civetone, and muscone. He also discovered synthetic routes to the structurally related sex hormones androstenone and testosterone. At the time these preparations were landmark achievements in organic chemistry, which showed that biological substances associated with the mysteries of life could be produced independently by rational and strictly chemical routes in a laboratory. In addition to technical syntheses of the naturally occurring hormones, Ružička synthesized many related substances with novel biological properties, and this work ultimately influenced the development of hormonal drugs. Lavoslav Ružička was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939.

  • Uber Phenylmethylketen ( Karlsruhe, 1911)
  • Uber den Bau der organischen Materie; Antrittsrede gehalten am 10. Dezember 1926 in der Aula der Reichsuniversitat zu Utrecht ... (Utrecht: J. van Druten, 1926)


Vladimir Prelog (1906-98)

Born in Sarajevo and educated in Zagreb and Prague, Vladimir Prelog was Professor of Chemistry in Zagreb until World War II broke out when he fled to Switzerland. He began work at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) [Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule] in Zurich, where he conducted research and finished his career.

He was known to his peers in chemistry for broad ranging research in synthetic organic chemistry - transformation, building, or disassembling carbon-containing molecules in well-defined ways. When Prelog began his academic career, organic chemists had not yet developed a common language to systematically describe molecules of even moderate size and complexity, particularly those having “right” and/or “left” handed centers, which exist, for example, in most biological molecules. Together with Robert Sydney Cahn and Christopher Ingold, in 1966 he published an extensive system for keeping track of these arrangements that remains the standard among organic chemists today. Vladimir Prelog was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemisty in 1975.

  • My 132 semesters of chemistry studies ( Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 1991)

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Paško Rakić (1933-)

Pasko Rakic, was born in Ruma, the former Yugoslavia. His parents were from the Adriatic Coast. After obtaining a medical degree and graduate training in developmental biology and genetics in Belgrade in 1969, Rakić joined the Harvard Medical School faculty; and in 1978 moved to the Yale University School of Medicine. He is presently the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. He also leads a multidisciplinary laboratory with research emphasis on the development of the brain. Rakić has been the recipient of numerous recognitions for his achievements, which include the Gerard Prize, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lashley, Pasarow and Fyssen awards.

Paško Rakić has made several seminal discoveries that forever changed our understanding of the development of the cerebral cortex in mammals, including humans. His discovery, in the early 1970s, of the pattern and sequence of neuronal cell proliferation near the cerebral ventricles and the interaction with the elongated transient population of radial glial cells during their long distance migration provided an elegant model of cortical development (J. Comp. Neurology, 1972, on display). These important findings paved the way for his subsequent elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal production and migration in the embryonic brain. They also reduced the mystery of complex brain development to a limited set of molecular and cellular events, which set the stage for modern developmental neurobiology and led to the radial unit and the protomap hypotheses (Science, 1988). These are among the few unifying theories to emerge in the neurosciences today, affecting conceptions in evolutionary biology, child psychology, pediatric neurology, biological psychiatry and the humanities (Nature Medicine, 2005).

Legend to the panel:

On the left is a three-dimensional reconstruction of a migrating neuron (N) to the cerebral cortex along the surface of a radial glial fiber, from Rakić’s paper in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, often cited by other scientists as a classic in this field of research. The middle model shows cohorts of neurons generated in the proliferative ventricular zone near the embryonic cerebral ventricles (VZ) as they traverse the expanding cerebral wall and pass through the layer of earlier generated neurons in the deep layers, before settling in at the top of the developing cortex (animated dynamic model available at: http://rakiclab.med.yale.edu/tmigration.htmlThe position of neurons in the cortex is guided by the transient radial glial scaffolding (RG). On the right is a fluorescence image of a migrating cortical neuron (green), which is attached to the process of an embryonic radial cell stained with glial-specific antibody (red) as well as a molecule that provides a bond with the radial glial fiber (yellow) that guides the neurons to the appropriate layers of the cerebral cortex.



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