BORY DE SAINT-VINCENT, Jean Baptiste
Jean-Baptiste Geneviève Marcellin Bory de Saint-Vincent (1778-1846) was a French military officer, naturalist, geographer and author. He studied medicine and surgery at a very early age (1791-93) and published his first scientific papers during the years 1796-98. In 1799 he enlisted in the army, travelled to the Southern Seas and the islands of Madagascar and Reunion, and composed his first scientific works. He participated in naturalist expeditions around the world. His career in the army however came to its end with Napoleon’s fall.
From 1819 to 1830, Bory de Saint-Vincent contributed to at least thirty scientific works, mainly on geography and natural history (articles, essays, dictionaries etc.), and from 1829 onwards he was a member of the French Scientific Expeditions to the Peloponnese and Algeria. A capable as well as ambitious man, tireless and gifted, he played a major role in the divulgation of natural sciences, although he had not studied those subjects himself and his knowledge was largely experiential.
Bory de Saint-Vincent’s publications on natural anthropology and geography contributed so that this lay naturalist, botanist, geographer and topographer was appointed director of the Section of Natural Sciences of the French Scientific Expedition to the Peloponnese (1829-30).
Coronel Bory was then fifty years old, already a famous naturalist, with ample knowledge, very capable of organizing but also eccentric. In spite of the difficulties and adversities faced by the Expedition, he and his collaborators managed to collect and present the relevant material with astonishing speed and punctuality, responding fully to the demands of the French authorities.
The conclusions of their work were published in a series of volumes and an Atlas during the years 1832-1836. Bory de Saint-Vincent also wrote a narrative (Relation) of the journey. This monumental work is viewed as the first endeavour to scientifically study and represent the Greek territory realized by an organized team of scientists.
This is the companion atlas to «Histoire et description des îles Ioniennes…» which was written by Baron V. A. Schneider. Bory de Saint-Vicent was the editor of the text, and author of the introduction. The edition includes detailed information on the history, geography, economy, demographics and ethnography of the Ionian islands.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou