William Turner nacque nel 1508 a Morpeth nel Northumberland, pochi chilometri a nord di Newcastle upon Tyne e non molto distante dal confine scozzese. Fu uno dei primi scrittori di ornitologia e botanica in Inghilterra, ma i suoi studi non si limitarono alla Storia Naturale, dal momento che scrisse anche parecchio su argomenti teologici.
Era un così strenuo sostenitore della Riforma e un così deciso antagonista della Chiesa di Roma che fu obbligato a cercare asilo all'estero per evitare di essere perseguitato. Affrontò gli argomenti teologici non senza cognizione di causa, essendo non solo medico ma anche teologo, e nel 1552 era stato ammesso agli ordini sacri dal vescovo Ridley suo conterraneo.
Nel 1544 aveva edito a Colonia un piccolo libro che intitolò Avium praecipuarum, quarum apud Plinium et Aristotelem mentio est, brevis et succincta historia. In questo lavoro non solo discusse i principali uccelli e i nomi di uccelli menzionati da Aristotele e Plinio, ma vi aggiunse anche descrizioni accurate e storie di vita di uccelli derivanti dalla sua vasta conoscenza ornitologica. Fu il primo libro stampato dedicato completamente all’ornitologia.
Turner era molto stimato da naturalisti stranieri, era amico e corrispondente di Conrad Gessner, tanto da contribuire all’Historia Animalium dell’amico svizzero con una breve relazione sui pesci dell’Inghilterra.
Il suo A new herball (1551) è il più noto di tutti i suoi lavori e rappresentò una pietra miliare nella storia della botanica e dell’erboristeria: ne dissodò il terreno grazie alla completezza e all’accuratezza dei dati, fornendo ai medici la prima opportunità di leggere nella loro lingua, anziché in latino, un studio originale sulle piante che erano così importanti per la loro professione. Morì a Londra l’8 Luglio 1568 e nel 1790 gli fu attribuito il titolo di Padre della Botanica Inglese.
William Turner (c. 1508 – 7 July 1568) was a British ornithologist and botanist. He is sometimes called "the Father of English botany" and the first ornithologist in the modern scientific spirit. William was born in Morpeth, Northumberland in or around 1508. His father was probably a tanner of the same name. He studied at Cambridge University, Pembroke Hall, from 1526 to 1533, where he received his B.A. in 1530 and his M.A. in 1533. He was a Fellow and Senior Treasurer of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. While at Cambridge he published several works, including Libellus de re herbaria, in 1538. He spent much of his leisure in the careful study of plants which he sought for in their native habitat, and described with an accuracy hitherto unknown in England. He had nothing but contempt for earlier herbals which he described as "full of unlearned cacographies and falselye naminge of herbes".
Turner embraced the Reformation, apparently under the influence of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. Whitney R.D. Jones' biography of Turner in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography specifically mentions these men, calling Ridley a "friend" and Latimer "deeply influenc[ial]". In 1540, he began traveling about preaching until he was arrested. After his release, he went on to study medicine in Italy, at Ferrara and Bologna, from 1540 to 1542 and was incorporated M.D. at one of these universities.
After completing his medical degree, he became physician to the Earl of Emden. Back in England he became Chaplain and physician to the Duke of Somerset, and through Somerset's influence he obtained ecclesiastical preferment. The position as Somerset's physician also led to practice among upper society. He was Prebend of Botevant in York Cathedral in 1550, and Dean of Wells Cathedral from 1551 to 1553. When Mary I of England acceded to the throne, Turner went into exile once again. From 1553 to 1558, he lived in Weißenburg in Bayern and supported himself as a physician. He became a Calvinist at this time, if not before.
After the succession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, Turner returned to England, and was once again Dean of Wells Cathedral from 1560 to 1564. His attempts to bring the English church into agreement with the reformed churches of Germany and Switzerland led to his suspension for nonconformity in 1564. Turner died in London on 7 July 1568 at his home in Crutched Friars, in the City of London, and is buried in the Parish Church of St. Olave's in Hart Street. An engraved stone on the south-east wall of this church commemorates Turner. Thomas Lever, one of the great puritan preachers of the period, delivered the sermon at his funeral.
Quite early in his career, Turner became interested in natural history and set out to produce reliable lists of English plants and animals, which he published as Libellus de re herbaria in 1538. In 1544, Turner published Avium praecipuarum, quarum apud Plinium et Aristotelem mentio est, brevis et succincta historia, which not only discussed the principal birds and bird names mentioned by Aristotle and Pliny the Elder but also added accurate descriptions and life histories of birds from his own extensive ornithological knowledge. This is the first printed book devoted entirely to birds.
In 1545, Turner published The Rescuynge of the Romishe Fox, and in 1548, The Names of Herbes. In 1551, he published the first of three parts of his famous Herbal, on which his botanical fame rests. A new herball, wherin are conteyned the names of herbes… (London: imprinted by Steven Myerdman and soolde by John Gybken, 1551) is the first part of Turner's great work; the second was published in 1562 and the third in 1568, both by Arnold Birckman of Cologne. These volumes gave the first clear, systematic survey of English plants, and with their admirable woodcuts (mainly copied from Leonhart Fuchs's 1542 De historia Stirpium) and detailed observations based on Turner's own field studies put the herbal on an altogether higher footing than in earlier works. At the same time, however, Turner included an account of their "uses and vertues", and in his preface admits that some will accuse him of divulging to the general public what should have been reserved for a professional audience. For the first time, a herbal was available in England in the vernacular, from which people could identify the main English plants without difficulty.
A New Book of Spiritual Physick was published in 1555. In 1562, Turner published the second part of his Herbal, dedicated to Sir Thomas Wentworth, son of the patron who had enabled him to go to Cambridge. This book was published by Arnold Birckman of Cologne, and included in the same binding Turner's treatise on baths. The third and last part of Turner's Herbal was published in 1568, in a volume that also contained revised editions of the first and second parts. This was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. A New Boke on the Natures and Properties of all Wines, also published in 1568, had pharmacological intent behind it, as also the included Treatise of Triacle. As a member of the nonconformist faction in the Vestments controversy Turner was famous for making an adulterer do public penance wearing a square cap and for teaching his dog to steal such caps from bishop's heads.
de la médecine ancienne et moderne
par Nicolas François Joseph Eloy
Mons – 1778
William Turner, né entre 1510 et 1515 à Morpeth dans le Northumberland et mort en 1568, est un ornithologue et un botaniste anglais, surnommé le père de la botanique britannique. Son père était probablement tanneur. Turner fait ses études à Cambridge à Pembroke College de 1526 à 1533 où il reçoit son baccalauréat en 1529 et son master en 1533. Il s'engage en faveur de la Réforme et est emprisonné pendant deux ans. À sa libération, il doit s'exiler et toutes ses publications sont détruites. Durant son exil, il voyage en Europe et rencontre les plus fameux botanistes de son temps. Il devient médecin en Italie. Après la mort d'Henri VIII, en 1547, il revient en Angleterre et devient le médecin et aumônier du duc de Somerset, Édouard. Il reçoit le décanat de Wells en 1551. Lorsqu'Édouard VI décède en 1553 c'est Marie Ire, une catholique, qui lui succède. L'intolérance religieuse est à nouveau de règle et les ouvrages de Turner sont à nouveau interdits et détruits. Mais le règne de Marie Ire est bref, cinq ans, et l'avènement d'Élisabeth Ire permet à Turner de revenir dans son pays et il retrouve alors son décanat de Wells. Il est bientôt suspendu de ses fonctions pour non-conformisme.
Il publie en 1538, Libellus de re herbaria novus et en 1548, The names of herbes in Greke, Latin, Englishe Duche and Frenche wyth the commune names that Herbaries and Apotecaries use. Dans ses ouvrages, il réagit contre les livres de botaniques précédemment publiés, car ceux-ci ne sont que des traductions d'ouvrages venant du continent et ils présentent donc une flore à la fois en partie inconnue et incomplète. Son Libellus est une flore de la province de Northumberland. Son plus grand ouvrage est son herbier, intitulé A new Herball, wherin are conteyned the names of Herbes... with the properties degrees and naturall places of the same, gathered and made by Wylliam Turner, Physicion unto the Duke of Somersettes Grace, qui paraît en trois volumes (le premier à Londres en 1551, le second à Cologne en 1562 durant son exil et le troisième en 1568). La plupart des illustrations qui y figurent proviennent de l'œuvre de Leonhart Fuchs de 1545.
Il publie, en 1544 à Cologne, un petit livre intitulé Avium praecipuarum, quarum apud Plinium et Aristotelem mentio est, brevis et succincta historia dans lequel il tente de donner des descriptions précises des oiseaux cités par Aristote et par Pline l'ancien. Turner tente aussi de donner des informations sur le comportement. Il s'agit du premier livre consacré uniquement aux oiseaux et sa tournure est moderne. Turner défend vigoureusement le fait d'écrire en anglais en affirmant que cela aidera à la diffusion des connaissances. Il argue également que Dioscoride ou Galien écrivaient aussi dans leur propre langue. Il étudie également la minéralogie et l'ichtyologie.