According to the birth certificate, Mendel was born on 20 July 1822 in Hynčice. However, he himself stated the date 22 July. He was born in the family of a farmer with labour obligation keeping bees in his garden and growing improved varieties of fruit trees. In 1833 – 1840 Mendel studied at the Piarist School in Lipník and at the grammar school in Opava. In 1840 Mendel entered under difficult financial conditions the Philosophical Institute at the Olomouc University and graduated from it with excellent results. Joining the Augustinian monastery in Brno in 1843 was a starting point of his further study. The abbot of Brno Augustinians C. F. Napp (1792 – 1867) was a leading figure of the Moravian-Silesian Agricultural Society and supported the development and application of science. The Augustinian monastery in Brno was then a centre of learning. Its members spent their time studying theology, philosophy and natural sciences. The 24-year-old Mendel attended Diebel´s lectures on agriculture, pomology and viniculture in 1846 and passed the necessary exams. In his textbook on agriculture in five volumes Diebl described hybridization as the main method of plant breeding. After completing theological studies Mendel taught mathematics and Greek at the secondary school in Znojmo in the school year 1849-50. To get the teacher´s certificate he sent a request, accompanied with his biography, to the Vienna University to be allowed to pass the examination in natural sciences and physics. In 1851 Mendel stood in for Professor J. Helcelet (1812 – 1876) in teaching agriculture at the newly created Technical Institute in Brno. As Mendel´s private preparation for a successful university examination was insufficient, abbot Napp enabled him the study at the Vienna University in 1851-1853. Coming back from the university Mendel became a member of the teaching staff at the Technical Modern School in Brno where he taught physics and natural history. At the same time he carried out experiments in plant hybridization. The impetus for experiments carried out with peas was „artificial fertilization of ornamental plants focused on obtaining new colour varieties“. Mendel´s friend J. Tvrdý, a Brno gardener, was an excellent European plant breeder. Mendel carried out his experiments with plants in an experimental garden and greenhouse. He crossed peas with various pairs of traits. He gave a series of lectures on his discoveries at the meetings of the Nature Research Society in Brno held in February and March 1865. The manuscript of his lecture Experiments in Plant Hybrids (Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden) was published the next year in the Society´s annual report (Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brno). The Nature Research Society in Brno sent its proceedings containing Mendel´s article to 133 institutions in various countries. In 1868 Mendel was elected abbot of the Augustinian monastery with the right to use a personal coat of arms. He co-operated with J. Tvrdý in breeding flowers, mainly fuchsias. He applied hybridization to achieve new varieties of fruit trees, too. Mendel researched heredity also in bees in the newly built bee house from 1871. He co-operated with the chairman of the Moravian Beekeepers´ Society F. X. Živanský (1816 – 1963), who published the specialised journal Včela brněnská (The Honey Bee of Brno) where Mendel´s experiments with bees were also described. In 1857 the Natural Science Section of the Moravian-Silesian Agricultural Society appointed Mendel its meteorology correspondent. Mendel carried out systematic meteorological observations in the monastery and studied the occurrence of sunspots in relation to weather forecasting. Mendel published regularly the results of his meteorological observations. He stressed the utility of weather forecasts for farmers during the harvest time. He proved his excellent observation skills while explaining the inception and progress of the whirlwind in Brno. On 6 January 1884 the convent of the St. Thomas Augustinian Order at Old Brno announced the death of „Gregor Johann Mendel, inful. prelate, Comthur of the Imperial Austrian Franz Joseph Order, meritorious director of the Mortgage Bank of Moravia, member of the Austrian Meteorological Society, member of the Moravian-Silesian Agricultural Society and other learned and beneficial societies“. He was buried in the Augustinian tomb at the Central Cemetery in Brno.
GREGOR JOHAN MENDEL