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Link: • Giovanni Ambrosio Sangiorgio to Carl Linnaeus, 2 March 1773 n.s.
Dated VI nonas martii 1773. Sent from Melliani (Italia) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Latin.


The suppliers of bread to the army had been so greedy that they had made bread with chaff and bran. The soldiers, and those convicted to hard labour, had suffered from it so much, so that a complaint had been made to the government. The convicts had suffered more from the bread than from their labour.

Giovanni Ambrosio SangiorgioSangiorgio, Giovanni Ambrosio
(?-?). Italian. Pharmacist.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
had been commissioned, three years earlier, to find out if the fault could really be with the bread and to make an analysis why the bread was so heavy and why it had caused so much harm.

Sangiorgio had tried different ways but without result. However, a check with the miller Papinius had revealed that the bread for the soldiers and the convicts was baked mainly from rice, and more precisely from the part of the rice that is broken when the rice is threshed. That part of the rice is not even good for feeding to poultry. Since this cereal, when mixed with wheat meal, neither takes up water nor ferments, it does not form loaves although it is dried in the oven. Later, when it is given as bread and comes into contact with water, the rice swells and can be seen as grains in the bread. So, the soldiers and the convicts were not fed with bread but with rice flour, which cannot bring nutrition but only indigestion, obstruction and disease.

When the Emperor heard of this and also that a seed of Cinosurus, called covetta, meaning immature rye, was used for bread, he had asked Carlo Gottardo di FirmianFirmian, Carlo Gottardo di
(1716-1782). Italian. Comte. Minister
of Austrian Lombardy.
, his patron, to make experiments with this too, since it had not been mentioned in the analysis mentioned above.

To keep it secret, Sangiorgio got four doctors assigned to him to give their opinions on the seed. Linnaeus can see this in the attached report.

As the bread was contaminated not only with the seed of Cinosurus, Sangiorgio was asked to see what the suppliers did in their handling and in their choice of material. So, Sangiorgio had to investigate both the seeds and the bread.

When Sangiorgio and his four associates had decided what cereals were involved and Sangiorgio had got access to the proper botanical material and equipment, he had been careful to make a report with clear pictures and explanations of the whole matter. He hopes that the result will be a nice publication.

Sangiorgio gives Linnaeus credit for this result, due to what Linnaeusís works had meant. Sangiorgio also mentions that he has had to disagree a little over Brassica Pompeiana from what Johan Gustaf WahlbomWahlbom, Johan Gustaf
(1724-1808). Swedish. Physician and
naturalist. Studied at Uppsala under
Linnaeus, anatomy, surgery and
obstretics at Wittenberg. Provincial
physician at Kalmar. Correspondent of
had said in Amoenitates academicaeLinnaeus, Carl Amoenitates
, I-X (Stockholm
1749-1790). Soulsby no. 1280.
, part 1 plate 327 [Sangiorgio refers to the dissertation, Sponsalia plantarumLinnaeus, Carl Sponsalia
, diss., resp. J. G.
Wahlbom (Uppsala 1746). Soulsby no.
, defended by Wahlbom in 1746; published in the Amoenitates academicae, vol. 1, 1749, the Leiden edition].

Sangiorgio sends this report to Linnaeus through Carl Fredrik RudbeckRudbeck, Carl Fredrik
(1755-1814). Swedish. Military officer.
Son of Adolph Rudbeck. Brother of Adolph
Fredrik Rudbeck. Accompanied, together
with his brother, Jacob Jonas
Björnståhl on his travels.
, who had been to see Sangiorgio on the day before together with a relative Anonymous, . of Johan Gottschalk WalleriusWallerius, Johan Gottschalk
(1709-1785). Swedish. Professor of
chemistry at Uppsala.
. They had talked about Linnaeus then, and they had even advised Sangiorgio to send his son to Linnaeus. The son is now with Nicolaus Joseph, baron von JacquinJacquin, Nicolaus Joseph, baron von
(1727-1817). Dutch. Botanist. In
1755 at the order of emperor Franz I of
Austria he went to the Antilles and
South America. In 1763 he became
professor of mineralogy and chemistry at
Chemnitz, later professor of botany at
Vienna and director of the botanical
garden at Schönbrunn. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
in Vienna, studying chemistry and botany. However, Sangiorgio is afraid that his son would be too far away if he went to Sweden. Sangiorgio could die before the young man could come back.

Sangiorgio asks Linnaeus to excuse his little gift.


a. (LS, XII, 427-428). [1] [2] [3]