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Christen Friis Rottbøll (born 3 March 1727 at Hørbygård, Denmark – died 15 June 1797 in Copenhagen) was a Danish physician and botanist: He was a pupil of Carolus Linnaeus.


Early lifeEdit

Rottbøll was born on the Hørbygaard estate at Holbæk, the son of Christen Michelsen Rottbøll (died 1729) and Margrethe Cathrine Friis. His father was the manager of the estate but died in 1729. His mother was married second time to manager of Hagestedgaard Ole Nielsen Faxøe.[1]

Education and careerEdit

Rottbøll studied at the University of Copenhagen, first theology, then medicine, in which in took his doctorate degree in 1755 (De morbis deuteropathicis seu Sympathier). He then travelled abroad 1757–1761 to further his studies of medicine, and to study chemistry and botany – the latter subject at Uppsala University with Linnaeus.

From 1761, he was executive at the Botanic Garden in Copenhagen, and succeeded Georg Christian Oeder as its director in 1770. He was appointed professor at the Chair of Medicine in 1776 and received the title of "royal adviser" (konferensråd) in 1784.[1]

Work on smallpoxEdit

As a medical doctor, he studied smallpox and reformed the vaccination programme that had run in Copenhagen since 1755. He abolished pre and post treatment and instead advised systematic weakening of the inoculum before application.[2]


As a botanist, Rottbøll gave out the first comprehensive list of the Flora of Greenland,[3] he published descriptions of plants from the Danish colonies in India[4] collected by Johann Gerhard König, and similarly of plants from Suriname collected by Daniel Rolander.[5][6] Corresponding with Lorenz Praetorius (1708-1781) of the Danish Moravian Church, Rottbøll also solicited the collection of plant specimens in 1766 by Moravians in North America.[7]

Rottbøll named the plant genus Rolandra (Asteraceae) after Rolander and the genus Kyllinga (Cyperaceae) after Peder Kylling. Carolus Linnaeus the Younger named the genus Rottboellia (Poaceae) after him.

Personal lifeEdit

Rottbøll married three times. His first wife was Ursula Schnabel (1732-1767), a daughter of rector Bernhard Schnabel (1691–1754) and Sophie Rasmusdatter (1700–52). They married on 10 May 1762 in Roskilde. Gis second wife was Johanne Elisabeth Mangor (1740-1771), a daughter of pharmacist Christopher Heerfordt Mangor (1704–82) and Anna Saur (c. 1715–83). Theu married on 18 May 1768 in Trinitatis Church in Copenhagen. His third wife was Catharina Hedvig Wohlert (1750-1811), a daughter of turner Daniel Jacob Wohlert . They married on 29 September 1777 in Schleswig.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Christen Friis Rottbøll" (in Danish). Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  2. ^ Rottbøll, Christen Friis (1766). Afhandling om Smaae-Kopperne, deelt udi tvende Parter, hvoraf den første betragter de indpodede Koppers Natur og Bekandling, da den anden derimod afhandler paa en eenfoldig Maade de naturlige Koppers Lægemaade, til Tieneste for dem, som i Mangel af erfarne Medici, nødes til at være deres egne og andre Familiers Læge, i denne farlige og ofte dødelige Sygdom [Thesis on Smallpox, in two parts, of which the First Part considers the Nature and Remediation of Inoculated Smallpox, whereas the Second Part in a naive way deals with the Cure of Natural Smallpox, for the benefit of those whom, at the lack of experienced Physicians, have to serve as doctors for themselves and their families in this Dangerous and often Lethal Disease] (in Danish). p. 215.
  3. ^ Rottbøll, Christen Friis (1770). Afhandling om en Deel enten ganske nye eller vel forhen bekjendte, men dog for os rare Planter, som i Island og Grønland ere fundne, tilligemed en kort Indledning om Urtelærens Tilstand i Danmark [Thesis on many new or rare plants found in Iceland or Greenland ...]. Københavns Selskabs Skrifter, 4. række (in Danish). 10. pp. 393–468. Based on collection of missionaries, e.g. Paul Egede.
  4. ^ Rottbøll, Christen Friis (1783). Beskrivelse af nogle Planter fra de malabariske Kyster, Til Pisoniæ buxifoliæ Beskrivelse, som Side 537 endes, følger følgende Oplysning, som et nyelig med Skibet Tranquebar fra Ostindien af Hr. Dr. Kønig mig tilsendt Exemplar [Description of some Plants from the Malabar Coasts ...]. Proceedings of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (in Danish).
  5. ^ Rottbøll, Christen Friis (1776). Descriptionis rariorum plantarum, nec non materiæ medicæ atque oeconomicæ e terra Surinamkensi fragmentum placido ampliss, professorum examini pro loco in Consistorio rite tenendo disputaturus, subjicit Christianus Friis Rottbøll, spartam defendentis ornante ... Arnoldo Nicolao Aasheim, ad d. [1. Jun.] a. 1776. Copenhagen.
  6. ^ Rottbøll, Christen Friis (1798). Descriptiones plantarum quarundam Surina-mensium, cum fragmento materiæ medicæ et oeconomicæ Surinamensis Editio 2. emendatior. Cum figuris æneis. Hafniæ et Lipsiæ.
  7. ^ See, especially, Manuscript list of American plants, to be collected by the Brethren and sent to Professor Friis in Copenhagen, 1766, BethCong 428, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  8. ^ IPNI.  Rottb.