Joachim Barrande – palaeontologist by soul and heart – Part Three

Barrande and Czech language

Barrande spoke Czech slowly but very well. His Czech vocabulary was more than enough not only for talks about trilobites but also about beautiful girls. He also knew how to write well. It is known from the memoires of Jan Neruda that he also understood Czech poetry. Neruda knew Barrande thanks to his mother who was a housewife to him for more than 25 years. He named the Czech Palaeozoic Bivalvia by Common Czech words – Maminka (Mommy), Granny (Babinka), Auntie (Tetinka), Daddy (Pantata), Queen (Kralovna) etc. He managed to get these names internationally acknowledged.

Travels around Europe

Since 1841 Barrande was the administrator and economical adviser of his former charge Prince Henry, now Count of Chambord. As his secretary, he travelled with him around Europe in 1850. Addresses of experts, notes on interesting publications and fossil casting, and also notes on studies in museums in Munich and Paris. Alone, or with his friends, palaeontologists and geologists, he travelled to many Palaeozoic sites in France, Belgium, Spain, England, Germany, or Scandinavia. 

The successors of his legacy

After Barrande got the message about Count Chambord’s death, he went to the Frohsdorf chateau at Vienna. The exhausting journey and subsequent work on Count’s last will had weakened his already enfeebled health. He got pneumonia and died on Friday, October 5, 1883. The one to continue his legacy was Otomar Novák. Barrande knew him since his studies, was very found of him and taught him specialized work. He also arranged for him the position at Vienna geologist Eduard Suess, whom he could follow at his journeys around Italy and Switzerland. Novák participated on moving Barrande’s collections into the Czech Museum and became its curator. He wrote exceptional studies on trilobites, phyllocarid crustaceans, hyolites, and the stratigraphy of the border between the Silurian and Devonian periods in Bohemia and Germany. But he died when he was only forty-one, just nine years after his teacher. The next person to continue the legacy of Barrande, was professor Bedřich Bouček in the 30s of the 20th century.

With his work, Barrande laid down the foundations for studies of Czech Palaeozoic and the development of life in this geological period. He also made Bohemia and Prague famous around the world. People from Prague paid their tribute to Barrande by naming a picturesque rock in Hlubočepy and also a city quarter after him. Geologists also named the area of Proterozoic and Palaeozoic sediments Barrandien.