Andreas Vesalius (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Vesalius, a physician and anatomist of the Renaissance, was one of the most important figures in the history of medicine. He published the first modern comprehensive text of human anatomy. His accurate description of the structure of the human body, the result of firsthand dissection, is the basis of the modern scientific study of human anatomy.
Andreas Vesalius was descended from a long line of physicians, of whom he belonged to the fifth generation. The family combined scholarly and humanistic interests (several had written medical treatises or commentaries on Arabic and Hippocratic works) with medical ability and ambition, having served the courts of Burgundy and the Habsburgs. Although the family had long lived in Flanders, it had come originally from Wesel on the lower Rhine River, hence the family’s name, of which Vesalius is the Latin form. Vesalius’ father was apothecary to the court of the Habsburg Emperor Charles V. As a boy, Vesalius dissected dogs, cats, moles, mice, and rats. He attended the University of Louvain from 1529 to 1533, where he studied Latin and Greek. He then went to the University of Paris to study medicine, remaining there from 1533 to 1536. The medical faculty at Paris was under the influence of Galen, the great second century Greek medical writer, whose authority in anatomical matters was unchallenged. Vesalius found that there was little practical teaching...
(The entire section is 2259 words.)
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