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Andreas Vesalius

Physician and Anatomist Andreas Vesalius

Profession: Physician and Anatomist

Nationality: Flemish

Biography: Andreas Vesalius's fame rests on not one but two major achievements; the establishment of the study of Anatomy based on observations and the publication of an anatomy text that would change not only medicine but book publishing forever.

Born in Brussel, Vesalius studied and taught at the prestigious progressive universities of Leuven, Paris and Padua. By dissecting cadavers himself he came to question the writing of the great Greek physician Galen, whose teachings were still standard 1300 years later. Veralius realised Galen's teaching were based on dissections of animals not people.

Vesalius, while teaching in Venice had begun publishing anatomical illustrations to support his teaching. In 1543 he took this much further publishing "De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (On the Fabric of the Human Body in Seven Volumes)". This revolutionary book contained over 600 illustrations of the body, presenting the body in not only a naturalistic way but also an artistic one, and intermixed illustrations with text. It was made using woodblocks, probably the work of Flemish artist Flemish artist, Jan Stephan van Calcar.

Vesalius presented his work to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who gave him a position as a physician to the royal household. He died in 1564 travelling home from visiting Jerusalem.

Born: December 31, 1514
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium, Holy Roman Empire
Star Sign: Capricorn

Died: October 2, 1564 (aged 49)
Cause of Death: Became ill after being shipwrecked on the island of Zakynthos

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  • 1543-06-01 Flemish physician Andreas Vesalius publishes "De humani corporis fabrica (On the fabric of the human body in seven books)" a major step forward in understanding human anatomy [date is representative as exact date of publication unknown]

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