October 31, 2012 [MEDICINE OF RENAISSANCE]
1300 – 1650 A.D.
Re-birth, especially of science and art.
Artists discovered new ways of painting the human body: Realism. Breaking away from
Names in art: Botticelli, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Rafael.
Upwardly moving middle class, largely due to printing press; unprecedented spread of ideas.
The Prince by Machiavelli. Around Europe, leaders turn to Italy and continuous warfare takes
Decadence and corruption in Catholic Church in 16 Century.
Martin Luther protests indulgences – Protestant Reformation begins.
Decades of religious war follow, ending in 1648.
Architecture and Science
Buildings are grander, and temples spread across Europe.
In science, people no longer accept Church teachings at face value. Questioning caused by
Protestant Reformation and exceptionally so, the plague sparks a desire to study the natural
Complex social, political, and economic transformations across Europe.
Exploration: Beginning with Columbus in 15 Century. New navigational technologies allow
explorers to travel farther.
Revival of medicine attributed to the plague. People were so used to seeing death, there was a
desire to rediscover the beauty of the human body.
Artists were linked with the reform of anatomy. Dissection was more common and legal –
especially among artists. They would attend public dissections and executions to study muscle
work and bone structure.
Famous for this was Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519).
o By 14 he became an apprentice to an infamous artist who was passionate about anatomy.
For 50 years, fascinated by animal and human dissection - even granted permission to
study corpses at the hospital. Began writing treaties on anatomy: to understand the body,
we had to look at it in different sections: bones, nerves, muscles, and organs.
In contrast to artists, the doctors were not interested in anatomy for another century. The one to
eventually bring them together was Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564).
o Physician, scholar, anatomist, and humanist (resurrection of Ancient Greek and Roman
o Wrote The Fabric of the Human Body (1543). Influence of Galen mocked. Symbolized
death of Galen’s methods of dissection. October 31, 2012 [MEDICINE OF RENAISSANCE]
o Received doctorate at the University of Padua and made professor of surgery
o Known for performing dissections while lecturing – unlike Galen.
o Presented focus on individual organs and structure on the body. His books and diagrams
incorporated and relied on Renaissance art in depicting the body.
o Overthrew Galen’s errors, including assertion that blood vessels did not originate in the
liver, but in the heart.
o His opposition to Galenism created animosity.
o To minimize rotting of corpses, his dissections took place in the winter, and several
would be used at once (to demonstrate different concepts).
o Turned to illegal accumulation of human bodies, as it was still not widely accepted (e.g.
grave robbing, taking from gallows, etc.).
Still not unity between medicine and anatomy.
William Harvey (1578 – 1657)
Anatomy greatly benefited physiology.
Supposedly* discovered circulation while watching a teacher demonstrate veins in a body.
Englishmen, attended Cambridge and Padua.
On the Motion of Heart and Blood 1628. Challenges Galen on circulation. States that the heart is
the beginning and same blood flows through veins and arterties.
Radical push from Galen – not until 1660’s (time capillaries were discovered) that he’s
recognized as correct.
*Supposedly: Ibn al-Nafis – Made same discovery centuries before, but ignored by Europeans,
but still unacknowledged to this day.
Ambroise Paré (1510 – 1590)
Battlefield surgeon, wouldn’t be known if not for the printing press, as it was how he
Broke with tradition and learned from experience.
Sweat to expel infection = common treatment.
John of Vigo (1460 – 1525)
o Battlefield surgeon – wrote on gunpowder wounds as poisoned wounds. Traditionally
treated by cauterization (burning shut). But the problem was that gunpowder wounds
were deep. He thought to cauterize them with burning oil.
Adopted the boiling oil technique, but oil ran out. He used different materials as a substitute,
making pastes, and finding these mild treatments to be more beneficial than harsh treatments.
Created puppy oil balm.
o Cooked puppies in oil of lilies until flesh came off, and continued until bones dissolved,
mixing turbines and earth worms, and cooked over fire. This made paste for the wounds.
“Scourge of the Renaissance”
Small pox, typhus, influenza, which used to be uncommon and unknown, were becoming the
largest problems. October 31, 2012 [MEDICINE OF RENAISSANCE]
Syphilis was particularly interested because it was a sexually transmitted disea