Renaissance Medicine

Introduction to the Renaissance

Andreas Vesalius – specialism = ANATOMY

Description (D-C grade)

  • Dissected the bodies of executed criminals
  • Published On the Fabric of the Human Body 1543
  • Used Renaissance artists to draw detailed pictures of his findings
  • Made use of new technology such as the printing press to produce lots of copies and more cheaply than before, therefore his medical ideas spread more easily
  • Proved Galen wrong about over 200 anatomical features – jawbone in human different from in animals
  • Led to some doctors not liking him – they didn’t think Galen should be questioned

Impact on Medicine (B-A*)

  • Doctors didn’t like the criticism of Galen so were slow to take on board Vesalius’ ideas
  • However he did push for better training for doctors. Those who trained under Vesalius learnt through human dissection, not just from reading books.
  • His discoveries were a huge advancement in knowledge, BUT only about knowledge in one specific field of medicine (anatomy)
  • Progress in knowledge about anatomy didn’t make sick people better. It didn’t lead to better and more successful ways of treating the sick.

William Harvey – specialism = BLOOD CIRCULATION

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The Royal Society – specialism = COMMUNICATION & COLLABORATION

  • The original Royal Society were a group of scientists, doctors and philosophers who began meeting in the mid-1640s to discuss promoting knowledge of the natural world through observation and experiment (which we now call science)
  • Its official start date is 28 November 1660
  • The Royal Society’s motto ‘Nullius in verba’ roughly translates as ‘take nobody’s word for it’. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows (which means members) to verify all statements (this means to check the truth of all things that are said) by using facts gained by experiment
  • The Society met weekly to watch experiments and discuss scientific topics
  • King, Charles II was told about the society and it secured his approval and encouragement. The name The Royal Society first appears in print in 1661, and in the second Royal Charter of 1663 the Society is referred to as ‘The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge’
  • The Society found a building to meet and conduct experiments in, Gresham College, and quickly began to build a library and a museum of specimens of scientific interest
  • In 1662 the Society was permitted by Royal Charter to publish their findings as articles in Philosophical Transactions, which is now the oldest scientific journal in continuous publication
  • The society developed a professional approach to science and medicine which meant that the Society was now a proper academy of scientists
  • The Government recognised this in 1850 by giving a grant to the Society of £1,000 to assist scientists in their research and to buy equipment

John Hunter – specialism = TRAINING