Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

History

Renaissance medical knowledge

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. Next

The Early Modern Age was an exciting time for medicine, with knowledge of the human body progressing in fundamental ways - although the causes of disease remained a mystery.

Knowledge about the body

Two key practitioners moved knowledge forwards in the Early Modern Age:

Vesalius

Follower of Vesalius in graveyard, searching for bodies to dissect

Follower of Vesalius in graveyard, searching for bodies to dissect

The first was Vesalius, whose patron was Charles V of Spain. He trained at Louvain, Paris and Padua universities, and ransacked cemeteries and gibbets for bones and for bodies to dissect.

1536

He discovered the spermatic vessels. He also realised that the famous doctor Galen could be wrong, when he discovered that the great man was mistaken about there being two bones in the jaw, and about how muscles were attached to the bone.

1537

He became professor of medicine at Padua University. He said that medical students should perform dissections for themselves, stating that:"... our true book of the human body is man himself."

1543

He published 'Fabric of the Human Body' (with high-quality annotated illustrations).

William Harvey

The second important practitioner was William Harvey - who discovered the principle of the circulation of the blood through the body. He trained at Cambridge and Padua universities, and became doctor to James I and Charles I of England.

1616

He calculated that it was impossible for the blood to be burned up in the muscles (as Galen had claimed).

1628

He published 'Anatomical Account of the Motion of the Heart and Blood', which scientifically proved the principle of the circulation of the blood. This book marked the end of Galen's influence on anatomy.

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. Next

Back to Medieval and Renaissance medicine index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.