The Renaissance

The Renaissance is a time period which stretches from 1500 to 1750.renaissance.jpg
In this time people had a new attitude towards learning and wanted to learn for themselves; this helped the progress of medicine in many ways. Some of these ways are; people starting to challenge the church and being brave enough to carry out dissection, they were prepared to challenge other ideas (such as those of Greeks and Romans) and the printing press was invented which helped spread ideas all over the world.
external image vesalius.gifThe Renaissance stimulated medical practice just as it did all other European intellectual pursuits. Physicians and scholars began to scientifically study medicine.

Many began to research human anatomy. Their discoveries corrected many of the errors that had gone undetected for centuries and were rapidly disseminated through the new invention of printing. Andreas Vesalius was the premier anatomist of this age and published many illustrations of his discoveries.

Many medical ideas and discoveries were developed between 1500 and 1750, some of which are listed below.


During the Renaissance more people started carrying out dissection, even though it was still banned by the church. In the 16th century a new university was set up in Padua, Italy and, despite being near the Pope, dissections were carried out, with students encouraged to watch. The dissection theatre was designed in a new way, circular, this meant that all students got a good view of the dissection and, therefore, learned more about the body.

Who Made Medical History In The Renaissance?

Ambroise Paré

1510 – December 20, 1590external image Ambroise_Pare.jpg
Ambroise Paré was a French surgeon, the official royal surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III, is considered by some one othe fathers of surgery. He was a leader in surgical techniques, especially the treatment of wounds.Paré was born in Bourg-Hersent, France.Paré was a major figure of surgery in the 16th century. After his apprenticeship at the Hôtel-Dieu in Paris between 1533 and 1536, he soon became a military surgeon during the campaigns in Italy. In this occasion, he discovered a remedy against the pain of the wounded by firearms. Much of Paré's experience with wounds was acquired on the battlefield.??2?roise Paré substituted egg yolk, oil of roses, and turpentine for boiling oil after a twist of fate where all the boiling oil ran out. He then used the ancient roman turpentine remedy and discovered that it was far more efficient at healing the wounds than the boiling oil. He also introduced the ligature of arteriesinstead of cauterization during amputation. Although ligatures often spread infection it cannot be denied that this was an important breakthrough in surgical practice.

William Harvey

1st April 1578 - 3rd June 1657external image 180px-William_Harvey.jpg
Willliam Harvey was one of the most important doctors of the Reenasonce period, it was him that discovered how the heart pumps blood round the body. Harvey showed that blood flows around the body and that it is carried away from the heart in the arteries and returns to the heart and veins. He proved that blood is not burnt up and replaced as previously believed, but the heart pumps blood round and round the body. However before Harvey discovered this many doctors still believd in Galens idea that blood was constantly being made in the liver to replace blood that was burnt up in the body, in the same way that a fire brunt up wood. Some doctors thought that this idea was wrong but no on else had been able to find out how exactly how the blood did move around the body. Also Harvey published 2 grpund braking books: 'Am Atomical Study of the motion of the Heart and of the Blood in animals' explaining how blood was pumped from the heart round the body and 'Essays on the Generation of Animals' which is considered the basis for morden embryology.

Andreas Vesalius

31st December 1514 - 20th October 1564vesalius04.jpg
Andreas Vesalius was born in Brussels, to a medical family.he is often referred to as The Founder of Human Anatomy. Vesalius went to work in Padua at the university (see above). Here he carried out dissections, wich was very dangerous, especially as it was so close to the Pope. The university made his work easier as it encouraged thinking and new ideas, rather than just the regurgitaion of Galen's old theories. During his time at Padua he made detailed notes and drawings and encouraged his student to learn by showing them dissections. The technological advancement of the printing press helped Vesalius to make his work well known. His book "The Fabrication of the Human Body" was a major breakthrough in medical history. It contained highly - skilled drawings of all parts of the human body and offer up new suggestions on how to treat disease. It also highlighted many errors in previous theories, such as Galen's that had been in place in Europe for hundreds of years. Even though his book was ground-breaking and very clearly correct as his theories were backed up by detailed drawings, many chose to dispute or even discard his theories. They were still convinced Galen was right.

How Else Did The Renaissance Encourage Progress In Medicine?

  • The new artistic ideas of drawing things in a realistic manner made it easier for doctors and surgeons to learn about the anatomy of the human body. Vasalius was a pioneer in this field. (See above).
  • A great increase in the will to learn and discover noew things through scientific research led to many new dicoveries being made (see above).
  • Exploration established new sea routes to foreign countries, which brough with it new diseases. this also led to the introduction if new herbal cures and products such as tobacco; which ironically still causes many health problems today.