Renaissance MEDICINE

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Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Renaissance was a period in European history during which there was a revival in the ideas of Ancient Rome and Greece. Culture, art, science and medicine were studied by aristocrats and scholars who prized themselves on their education. Ideas flourished and the newly invented printing press allowed books to be produced quickly. Before this, books were slowly and painstakingly copied by hand. Although very few people could read and write, the printing press was a revolution in information technology and resulted in ideas spreading around Europe like never before. It is hard to believe its impact but the printing press was the information superhighway of its day.

"Genius lives on, all else is mortal"
Andreas Vesalius

Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiMedicine remained dominated by the teachings of the church but physicians began to learn more about the human body. They read books translated from Arabic medical texts and began to study anatomy in a scientific and systematic way. Andreas Vesalius (pictured left) and Leonardo da Vinci dissected human bodies and made the first anatomical drawings. These helped in understanding the organs and systems of the human body. The church did not permit the dissection of 'God fearing bodies' so it was often the bodies of criminals or 'sinners' that were used. Doctors learned about anatomy from watching these dissections. Sometimes the criminal was alive at the start of proceedings as part of their punishment!

During the Renaissance, the human body was regarded as a creation of God and the ancient Greek view of the four humors prevailed. Sickness was due to an imbalance in these humors and treatments, such as bleeding the patient or inducing vomiting, were aimed at restoring the balance of these four humors.

"I am not accustomed to saying anything with certainty after only one or two observations".
Andreas Vesalius

As the understanding of the body increased, so did the development of new medicines. Building on knowledge of herbs and minerals taken from Arabic writings, Renaissance apothecaries experimented with new plants brought from distant lands by explorers like Christopheer Colombus. The bark of the Quina tree contained an ingredient called quinine which is still used in the treatment of malaria. The leaves of the tobacco plant were thought to have medicinal properties, although we now know it is responsible for an enormous number of deaths. Laudunum, an opium-based painkiller, was prescribed for many disorders and remained in use up until Victorian times. However, progress was slow and many medicines remained little more than superstitious potions containing ingredients like worm's livers and tongue of newt.
Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiAs new continents were explored, and trade between different parts of the world increased, it allowed the global spread of disease. This often had devastating effects as whole populations were exposed to pathogens against which they had no natural immunity. Bubonic plague moved along trade routes from China and killed more than a third of Europe's population. When the Spanish colonised South America, they brought smallpox which killed many native Aztecs and Incas.
"Adam sons do not lack a rib, therefore Eva must have originated from somewhere else."
Andreas Vesalius
Diseases can spread rapidly when a pathogen enters a new population that has never been exposed to it. This is because none of the population has any natural immunity to the disease.
"The nerves may be considered as the diligent servants and messengers of the brain’.
Andreas Vesalius
The majority of people were too poor to be treated by trained doctors. Major cities had hospitals. For example,the Santa Maria Nouva in Florence, treated wealthy patients. These hospitals were amongst the first medical schools in Europe to start teaching medicine. Surgery improved and techniques such as tying wounds to stop bleeding began to be used. Previously, bleeding was stopped by cauterising, or burning the wound with red hot metal.

Surgical instruments remained basic. A surgeon would perform operations with the most basic set of instruments: a drill, a saw, forceps and pliers for removing teeth. If a trained surgeon was not available, it was usually the local barber who performed operations and removed teeth.

Anatomical Studies

The first medical in Europe was established in Salerno, in southern Italy, and remarkably they admitted women.
Much of the knowledge and many of the discoveries of Renaissance medicine were not readily accepted. It took many years, and in some cases, decades for these new concepts to be accepted and applied.

Renaissance Medicine

This book was written by Ian Dawson and it covers a history of medicine from the Renaissance period of the 15th and 16th century.

Medicine Transformed

Classical Texts and Modern Anatomists

The Renaissance saw new forms of medical study flourish at Rome. Scholars like Raphael's friend Marco Fabio Calvo studied the ancient medical works attributed to Hippocrates. These had been known only in part in the Middle Ages. Read as a whole (and translated into Latin), they offered an important new model for medicine based on close observation and unemotional, precise case histories (of which the Hippocratic texts contained a good many). Anatomists like Juan Valverde de Amusco and Bartolomeo Eustachi followed the lead of Andreas Vesalius, basing their accounts of human bones and blood vessels on the direct evidence they found by dissection, and publishing their results, magnificently illustrated, as improvements on Vesalius's work.

  • Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiAvicenna (al-Husain b. Abdallah Ibn Sina, d. 1037), Avicennae canonis libri In Latin, translated from Arabic by Gerard of Cremona, Fourteenth century The papal library also acquired copies of standard medical works used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Portions of the twelfth-century Latin translation of Avicenna's medical encyclopedia were used as textbooks in universities, and the work as a whole served as a medical reference tool. In this copy, numerous miniatures vividly depict patient problems with which the medical practitioner was likely to be confronted. Here a patient has hemorrhoids. Urb. lat. 241 fol. 280 recto medbio07 NAN.01

  • Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiGalen, De usu partium In Greek, Tenth or eleventh century Galen's "De usu partium" (second century A.D.) was one of the most important ancient contributions to physiology and anatomy and this work greatly influenced the development of those subjects in the Renaissance. The copy shown here is one of the earliest and best manuscripts, of great significance for establishing the text. It is one of many books that came to the papal library from the libraries of the cardinals. In the fifteenth century, it belonged to Cardinal Jacopo Ammannati Piccolomini, who was a member of humanist circles in Rome. Urb. gr. 69 fols. I verso - 1 recto medbio08 NAN.02

  • Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiHippocrates, Works In Greek, Fourteenth century The first Latin translation of the complete corpus of treatises ascribed to Hippocrates (fifth century B.C.) was an important development in Renaissance medical learning. This undertaking, accomplished at Rome by Marco Fabio Calvo (d. ca. 1527), greatly enlarged knowledge of one of the most important ancient medical writers, even though some Hippocratic books had long been available in older translations. Marco Fabio Calvo based his transcription and translation of the corpus on this fourteenth- century manuscript in the mistaken belief that it was of great antiquity. Vat. gr. 277 fols. 10 verso-11 recto medbio09 NAN.03

  • Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiHippocrates, Works In Greek, Transcribed by Marco Fabio Calvo, Rome, Completed 1512 Calvo originally planned to publish a Greek edition as well as a Latin translation of the complete Hippocratic corpus and transcribed the whole Greek text from the older manuscript [Vat. gr. 277 (medbio09)]. Vat. gr. 278 fol. 1 recto medbio10 NAN.04

  • Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiHippocratis octoginta volumina In Latin, Translated by Marco Fabio Calvo, Rome, Completed 1515 Marco Fabio Calvo's Latin translation of the Hippocratic corpus was completed in 1515 and printed at Rome in 1525, by Francesco Calvo, then "apostolic printer" to the papacy. The following year Marco Fabio deposited this holograph manuscript of his Latin translation in the papal library, so that it could serve as an archetype (official text) for future editions of his work. The papal library thus still served as a library of record, as it had for Lorenzo Valla 75 years before. Vat. lat. 4416 fols. ii verso-iii recto medbio11 NAN.05

  • Renaissance Medicine - THE  BORGIAS   wikiJuan Valverde de Amusco, Anatomia del corpo humano In Italian, Rome: Ant. Salamanca et Antonio Lafreri, 1560 Valverde was one of a group of anatomists who worked in Rome in the middle years of the sixteenth century, when anatomy based on the dissection of the human cadaver was the focus of much scientific and public interest in Italy. In this work, dedicated to Amusco's patron Cardinal Juan Alvarez de Toledo, the author refers to the greater opportunities for anatomical study in Italy, including Rome, as compared to his native Spain. Sharp rivalries existed among anatomists. Here, a muscle man holds up his own flayed skin; the accompanying text points out the independence of the illustration from that of the pioneer Andreas Vesalius and discusses the differences with the latter's teaching.