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Vesalius, Andreas

Born: 1514 AD
Died: 1564 AD
Nationality: Belgian
Categories: Anatomist, Authors, Physicians

1514 – He was born on the 31st day of Decmber this year in Brussels.


1528 – He entered the University of Leuven (Pedagogium Castrensis) taking arts, but when his father was appointed as the Valet de Chambre in 1532, he decided to pursue a career in medicine at the University of Paris, where he moved in 1533.


1536 – He was forced to leave Paris in this year due to the opening of hostilities between the Holy Roman Empire and France, and returned to Leuven.


1537 – After settling briefly in Venice, he moved to the University of Padua (Universitas aristarum) to study for his doctorate, which he received in this year.


1538 – He also published a letter on venesection, or bloodletting. This was a popular treatment for almost any illness, but there was some debate about where to take the blood from.


1539 – A Paduan judge became interested in his work, and made bodies of executed criminals available for dissection. He soon built up a wealth of detailed anatomical diagrams, the first accurate set to be produced.


1541 – While he was in Bologna, he uncovered the fact that all of Galen’s research had been based upon animal anatomy rather than the human; since dissection had been banned in ancient Rome, Galen had dissected Barbary Apes instead, and argued that they would be anatomically similar to humans.


1543 – He had Johannes Oporinus publish the seven-volume De humani corporis fabrica (On the fabric of the human body), a groundbreaking work of human anatomy he dedicated to Charles V and which most believe was illustrated by Titian’s pupil Jan Stephen van Calcar.


1551 – Charles V commissioned an inquiry in Salamanca to investigate the religious implications of his methods. Vesalius’ work was cleared by the board, but the attacks continued. Four years later one of his main detractors published an article that claimed that the human body itself had changed since Galen had studied it.


1555 – After the abdication of Charles he continued at court in great favour with his son Philip II, who rewarded him with a pension for life and by being made a count palatine. This year he published a revised edition of De Corporis.


1564 – He died on the 15th day of October this year.O’Malley Andreas Vesalius’ Pilgrimage, Isis 45:2, 1954) and is dismissed by modern biographers. It appears the story was spread by Hubert Languet, who served as de Saxe under Charles V and then the prince of Orange. He claimed in 1565 that Vesalius was performing an autopsy on an aristocrat in Spain when it was found that the heart was still beating, leading to the Inquisition condemning him to death. The story went on to claim that Philip II had the sentence transformed into a pilgrimage. The story re-surfaced several times over the next few years, living on until recent times.