Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)

The reorganizer of the study of anatomy; b. at Brussels, 31 Dec., 1514; d. in a Greek city on his journey home from Jerusalem in 1564. He was descended from a German family of physicians called Witing (Wytinck), which came from Wesel on the Rhine, and was the son of Andreas Vesalius, court-apothecary to the Emperor Charles V. As a boy he showed great interest in the dissection of animals. After pursuing his early studies at Louvain, he went about 1533 to the University of Paris, where Johannes Quinterus of Andernach and Jacobus Sylvius taught medicine. At the university Vesalius gave his attention largely to anatomy, especially that of the bones which he found in cemeteries and at the place of execution. He dissected entire animals, and gained in this way so much knowledge that at the request of his teachers and fellow-students he publicly dissected a corpse and explained its parts. In 1536 he returned to Louvain and made a public dissection there, the first in eighteen years. He also published a more accurate Latin translation of the ninth book of Almansor of Rhazes. In 1537 he went to Venice, thence to Padua, where he took the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and on 6 Dec. was appointed professor of surgery and anatomy at Padua. Contrary to custom, Vesalius dissected the bodies himself and explained the different parts: the former usage had been for a surgeon to dissect while a physician read aloud suitable chapters from Galen or the anatomic of Mundino. In 1538 he published the Tabulae anatomicae from his own drawings and those of the painter Johann Stephan of Kalkar; this was the first fruits of his investigations. His labours led him to the conviction that Claudius Galenus had never dissected the dead body of a human being, and that Galen's celebrated anatomy lacks the stamp of truthfulness, as it is based almost entirely on the dissection of apes. In 1540 he began his celebrated work Fabrica, in 1542 went to Basle in order to supervise the printing of it, returned to Padua at the end of 1543 after the publication was completed, spent a short time in Bologna and Pisa, and in 1544 was appointed court physician to the Emperor Charles V. Up to the time of the emperor's abdication in 1556, Vesalius accompanied Charles on all his journeys and campaigns. After the abdication he entered the service of King Philip II of Spain. For unknown reasons, in the spring of 1564 he undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from which he never returned. Malaspina Biography

Books from Alibris: Andreas Vesalius

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