Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Marsigli, Luigi Ferdinand

3573750Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, Volume XV — Marsigli, Luigi Ferdinand

MARSIGLI (Latinized Marsilius), Luigi Ferdinand, soldier and savant, was born at Bologna, July 10, 1658, and died in the same city, November 1, 1730. After a considerable course of study in mathematics, natural history, and anatomy, he visited Constantinople, and on his return to Christendom offered his services to the emperor Leopold, then at war with the Turks (1682). Wounded and captured in an action on the river Raab, he was sold to a pasha and accompanied him to the siege of Vienna; but in 1681 his friends purchased his release, and at the close of the war he was appointed commissioner for fixing the new Dalmatian boundary. In 1703 he was second in command to the count of Arco when Alt-Breisach was surrendered to the duke of Burgundy; and, though popular opinion acquitted him of blame, Marsigli was cashiered when Arco was condemned to death. Devoting himself to scientific pursuits, he visited Switzerland, and spent a considerable time at Paris and Marseilles. He went to Rome in 1709 at the request of Clement XI., but soon returned to Marseilles to prosecute his investigations into the physical nature of the sea. In 1712 he presented his scientific collections to his native city, and thus gave rise to the Bologna Institute of Science and Art; and about the same time he established a press, including founts of Oriental characters, for printing the publications of the society.

Marsigli's own works were valuable contributions to knowledge, brought out in very handsome style. Best known are his curious physical history of the sea (Italian, Venice, 1711; French, Amsterdam, 1725), with a very laudatory preface by Boerhaave; L'état militaire de l'Empire Ottoman (Amsterdam, 1732); and Danubius Pannonico-Mysicus (Hague, 1726). This last, of which only three hundred and seventy-five copies were printed, consists of six huge folio volumes illustrated by nearly three hundred maps and engravings, and furnishes an exceedingly elaborate account of the course of the Danube, of the towns and antiquities along its banks, of its birds, beasts, fishes, &c. See Fontenelle's éloge in Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences, Paris, 1730; Quincy, Vie de Mons. le Comte de Marsigli, Zurich, 1741.