Biography of Benito Daza de Valdés (1591-1634)

Religious, naturalist, physicist and medical Spanish, born in Córdoba in 1591 and died after 1623, natural philosophy, medicine.


He was the son of Lucas Valdés, Member of the Guild of silversmiths in the city of Córdoba. Graduated of Bachelor of Arts and philosophy at the University of Seville in 1616. Subsequently he/she should study law because, as contained in his use of cravings, he/she came to be "Notary of the Holy Office of the city of Seville". The reference, in the aforementioned work, a manuscript of Antonio Moreno ("the second book of perspective, which will be light, licenciado Antonio Moreno, cosmographer, and Professor of his Majesty in the House of hiring of Seville") and his interest in the application of the telescope (what he/she calls "visorio leisure") to the astronomical observation based suspicion that maintained relations with the cosmographers and mathematicians of the Casa de contratación.

Scientific dimension

At the end of the 16th century and the first decades of the 17TH century, the works of Giambattista della Porta, Francesco Maurolico, and Kepler meant the revival of interest of scholars toward corrective glasses. In this context the work of Daza Valdés use of cravings (1623) appeared the first systematic treatise on the lenses to correct vision defects.

Indeed, the central motif of the book of Daza Valdés is describe all aspects relating to the construction and use of lenses, with particular emphasis on its irreplaceable role as the correction of Visual defects. I.e. that lenses do not deform the apprehension of reality through the view but will conversely facilitate it.

The text of the work, preceded by a brief prologue, is composed of three books. The first, entitled nature and properties of the eyes and divided into eleven chapters, describes the visual function and examines in detail the same defects that require optical correction. The second book, the remedies of the view through the cravings, divided into ten chapters, analyzes optical properties of crystals concave and convex, including a description of the procedures that can be taken to determine the precise "degrees" in precise "cravings" to correct the different ametropías. Four dialogues constitute the last book in which, as central figures are a teacher (craftsman) and a Doctor, dialectical resource that uses Daza Valdés to underline the need to combine technical skill with the theoretical knowledge.

Historians of ophthalmologic optics have emphasized the different contributions and discoveries of daza Valdés in this field, as for example considering first weather - adaptation - for perfect vision, the observation of cases of farsightedness - Daza corrected before no - one, the first description of the goggles and the advantages of quartz glasses. Likewise, other authors have pointed out that Daza Valdés was the first describing the anisometropia and how to correct it. Also of great interest is the ingenious method used to measure the power of the lens, the focal length-based.In geometrical optics it is underlined the contribution of Daza Valdés to point out the influence of spherical according to the shape of the lens aberration.

Remarkable is also, in the use of cravings, the study made by its author, dialogue IV, the telescopes of Galileo. It is without a doubt the first description of this instrument of all printed Spanish literature. Daza Valdés points out the fundamental importance of the objective and the relative minor of the eyepiece. It provides a criterion to assess the visual performance of the telescope. It also says some astronomical observations inspired no doubt by Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius. Finally describes other optical instruments: the Camera Obscura of Giambattista della Porta and mirrors.



Use the glasses for all kinds of views: in that is taught to know the degrees that each lacks its view, and those who have qualesquier cravings. (Sevilla: Diego Pérez, 1623).The work was translated into French in 1627, translation which is retained in the form handwritten until 1892, when it was edited by Giuseppe Albertotti with the title Manoscrito del secolo decimosettimo riguardante gli occhiali l'uso francesse. (Modena: 1892).There is also a print facsimile of the original Edition (Madrid: Julio Cosano, 1923).


PEÑA, Antonio of the. Cravings in 1623, (Madrid: 1888) ALBERTOTTI, Giuseppe. "Valdés Daca nella storia degli occhiali", in Annali di ottalmologia e clinica oculistica, 52 (1924), (pp. 273-278).MORITZ VON ROHR, Louis Otto. Die Brille als Optical Instrument. (Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1911).GREEF, Richard Carl. "Daza de Valdés: use of cravings", in Archiv für Augenheilkunde, 6 (1913), (pp. 97-104).WOOD, Casey A. "The first scientific work on spectacles", in the Annals of Medical History, 3 (1921), (pp. 269-273).Marquez, Manuel. The book of LIC. Benito Daza de Valdés use of cravings and comments with regard to the same. (Madrid: Cosano July, 1923).OVIO, Giuseppe. "Sull' frame degli occhiali (by the way tell the book of LIC." B. daza de Valdés, use of cravings and comments to the same purpose by Dr. Manuel Márquez), Annali di ottalmologia e clinica oculistica, 53 (1924), (pp. 352-360).BENITO HERNÁNDEZ, Emiliano. "The book of Mr. Daza de Valdés «cravings»", in medical press, 21 (1957), (pp. 146-156).NAVASCUÉS, José María OTERO. "Daza de Valdés and the yields of cravings', in annals of physics and chemistry, 44 (1948), (pp. 269-273).NAVARRO BROTONS, Víctor. "Science and technique in the book of Daza Valdés on the use of cravings," proceedings of the IV Congress Spanish for the history of medicine. (Granada: 1973), (vol. I, pp. 139-145).VILLENA, Leonardo."Daza de Valdés, a scientist out of its time", in proceedings of the I Congress of society Spanish of history of science. (Madrid: Diputación Provincial de Madrid, 1980), (pp. 439-449).

Víctor Navarro Brotons