Andreas Vesalius facts and biography

Andreas Vesalius facts: biography and contribution to medicine, Today we will talk about such a great scientist as Andrew Vesalius. You can find photos and biography of him in this article. If you can consider someone the father of anatomy, then of course that is Vesalius. This is a naturalist, maker and founder of modern anatomy. He started one of the first to study the human body through autopsies. It is from him that all later developments in anatomy arise.

Andreas Vesalius worked in a very difficult time. The century in which he lived was characterized by the dominance of the church in all areas of life, including medicine. Autopsy of the corpses was banned and violations of this ban were severely punished. Andreas Vesalius, however, would not retreat at all. The contribution to this scientist’s biology would be much smaller if he would not dare to exceed prohibitions and traditions. But like many of those who were ahead of their time, he paid for his bold ideas.


Do you want to know more about such a great man as Andreas Vesalius, whose contribution to biology is invaluable? We recommend getting to know him better by reading this article.

Origin of Andreas Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius facts biography photos

Andreas Vesalius (years 1514-1564) belongs to the Whiting family, who have lived in Nimwegen for a long time. Medical scientists were different generations of his family. For example, Andreas’ great-great-grandfather, Peter, was the rector and professor of the University of Leuven, the doctor of Emperor Maximilian himself. A bibliophile and fascinated by treatises on medicine, he had no money left for acquiring manuscripts, and he outsourced part of his assets to him. Peter wrote a commentary on the fourth book of Avicenna, the great Eastern encyclopaedist. The book is called “Canon of Medicine”.


Andreas’ great-grandfather, John, was also a teacher. He worked at the University of Leuven, where he taught mathematics, and was also a doctor. Everard, the son of John and Andreas grandfather, also followed in the footsteps of his father, realized in medicine. Andreas, the father of Andreas Vesalius, served as a pharmacist with the aunt of Charles V, Princess Margherita. Francis, the younger brother of our hero, also loved medicine and became a doctor.

Youth of the future scientist

December 31, 1514 Andreas was born Vesalius. He was born in Brussels and grew up among doctors who visited his father’s house. From his early years Andreas used a library of medical treatises that were passed on from generation to generation in this family. He was interested in this knowledge area. It must be said that Andreas was extremely erudite. He remembered all the discoveries made by various authors, and commented on them in his writings.

Studying at the University of Leuven and the Education College

Andreas at the age of 16 received classical education in Brussels. In 1530 he became a student at the University of Leuven. It was founded in 1426 by Johann IV from Brabant. The university was closed after the Great French Revolution began. Again, students started studying in it in 1817. It taught Latin and Greek, oratory and mathematics. To get ahead in science, you had to know the languages of antiquity well. Andreas, dissatisfied with teaching, joined the Pedagogical College in 1531, which was founded in 1517 in Leuven.

Vesalius in Paris

Very early on, the future scientist Andreas Vesalius became interested in anatomy. With great enthusiasm in his spare time, Andreas dissected the bodies of pets and dissected them. Nikolai Floren, a friend of his father’s and a court doctor, advised the young man to go to Paris to study medicine. Later, in 1539, Andrew consecrated the Message of Blood Guilt to this man, calling him the second father.

So, Vesalius goes to Paris in 1533 to study medicine. He has been doing anatomy here for 3-4 years, listening to lectures by a doctor from Italy Guido-Guidi, better known as Jacques Dubois or Silvius, who is one of the first to study the anatomical structure of the peritoneum, hollow veins, etc. Studied on human corpses. Sylvius has taught brilliantly. Vesalius also listened to Fernel, who was called the best doctor in Europe.


However, Andreas was not limited to lectures by these two doctors. He also studied under Johann Günther, who taught surgery and anatomy in Paris. He previously taught in Greek at the University of Leuven, after which he moved to Paris (in 1527), where he studied anatomy. We Vesalius have built a cordial relationship with Gunter.

The difficulties associated with the autopsy

Vesalius needed the dead for anatomical examinations. However, this problem has always been very difficult. As you know, this occupation was never considered a divine act. The church has traditionally rebelled against it. Herophilus was probably the only doctor who opened corpses and was not prosecuted. Vesalius, fascinated by scientific interest, went to the graveyard of the Silly Children. He also came to the execution site of Villar de Montfaucon, where he challenged the body of this abbot in stray dogs.


In 1376 at the University of Montpellier, where The main subject was anatomy, the doctors were allowed to reveal the body of the executed criminal every year. This permission was given by the brother of Charles V, Louis of Anjou, who was the ruler of the Languedoc. It was very important for the development of medicines and anatomy. This permission was then confirmed by Charles VI, the French king, and then by Charles VIII. In 1496 the latter confirmed it with a letter.

Return to Leuven, continuing research

Vesalius, who has spent more than 3 years in Paris, has returned to Leuven. Here he continued to practice anatomy with Gemma Frisius, his friend, who later became a well-known doctor. Andreas Vesalius’ first bound skeleton took a lot of effort. Together with his friend, he kidnapped the bodies of the executed, sometimes taking them off one by one. With danger to life, Andreas climbed the gallows. At night, friends hid parts of the body in bushes along the road, after which they brought them home with various suitcases. At home, the soft tissue was cut and the bones were digested. All this must be done in strict confidence. The attitude towards official autopsies was very different. Adrian van Bleghen, the mayor of Leuven, did not bother them. On the contrary, he patronized young doctors,

Disputes with the driver

Andreas Vesalius debated with the Director, the University of Leuven teacher, about making losses. Two opposing opinions have been raised against this issue. Galen and Hippocrates taught that bleeding should be done by the affected organ. Avicenna and the Arabs believed that this had to happen from the other side. Driver supported Avicen and Andreas supported Galen and Hippocrates. The driver was furious with the cheekiness of the young doctor. He did, however, respond sharply to him. After this, Driver started to treat Vesalius hostile. Andreas was of the opinion that it would be difficult for him to continue working in Leuven.

Vesalius is going to Venice

It was necessary to go somewhere for a while. But where? Spain disappears – here the church had great power, and the autopsy was considered the desecration of the deceased. It was completely impossible. Anatomy was also very difficult in France and Belgium. That is why Vesalius went to the Venetian Republic. He was attracted by the possibility of some freedom for his anatomical studies. Founded in 1222, the university in Padua became submissive to Venice in 1440. The most famous school of doctors in Europe was his medical faculty. Padua conveniently met such a promising scholar as Andreas Vesalius, whose most important achievements were known to his professors.

Andreas becomes a professor

December 5, 1537 University of Padua rewards Vesalius with a doctorate with the highest honor during a ceremonial meeting. After Andreas had demonstrated the autopsy, he was appointed professor of surgery. Vesalius’ duties now include the teaching of anatomy. So at the age of 23, Andreas became a professor. Listeners were attracted by his clear lectures. Soon under fluttering flags, to the sounds of trumpets, Andreas was appointed as a doctor at the court of the Bishop of Padua himself.


Vesalius had an active species. He could not reconcile with the routine that dominated the anatomy departments of different universities. Many professors simply read monotonous excerpts from Galen’s writings. Illiterate servants carried out the autopsy, and the teachers stood beside the volume of Galen in their hands and pointed to various organs with a stick from time to time.

The first works by Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius facts biography and contribution to medicine photo

Vesalius anatomical tables published in 1538. They consisted of six sheets of drawings. The engravings were made by S. Kalkar, a student of Titian. In the same year Vesalius reprinted Galen’s writings. A year later his own essay – Letters of Bloodletting – appeared.

Andreas Vesalius, working on the publication of works Pastors made sure that they described the structure of the human body based on the autopsy of animals. In this way, erroneous information that was legitimized was transmitted by tradition and time. Through the autopsy of the human body, Vesalius collected facts that he boldly compared to generally accepted canons.


“About the structure of the human body”

Andreas Vesalius facts and biography photo2

Andreas Vesalius for 4 years while he was in Padua, wrote an immortal work called “On the Structure of the Human Body” (Book 1-7). It was published in Basel in 1543 and was filled with many illustrations. In this work Andreas Vesalius (the photo of the cover of the work is shown above) gave a description of the structure of various systems and organs, pointing to many mistakes made by his predecessors, including Galen. It should be noted that the authority of Galen was shaken after the publication of this treatise and completely overthrown after some time.


Labor Vesalius marked the beginning of modern anatomy. In this work, for the first time in history, a fully scientific, rather than speculative, description of the structure of the human body was given, based on experimental research.

Andreas Vesalius facts and biography photo

Andreas Vesalius, founder of modern anatomy, has made a major contribution to Latin terminology. For the basis he took the names that he introduced in the 1st c. BC Aulus Cornelius Celsus, “Cicero Medicine” and “Latin Hippocrates”.

Andreas made anatomical uniformity terminology. With a few exceptions, he threw away all barbarism from the Middle Ages. At the same time he minimized the number of Grecism. This can be explained to some extent by Vesalius’ rejection of many of the provisions in Galen’s medicine.


It is remarkable that Andreas is an innovator in anatomy, he believed that mental carriers are “animal spirits” produced in the ventricles of the brain. This view was reminiscent of Galen’s theory, because these “spirits” were simply renamed the “psychic pneuma” that the ancients wrote about.

Andreas Vesalius facts and biography

"About the structure of the human brain"

“About the structure of the human brain” – another workVesalius. This is the result of his study of the performance of predecessors in the field of anatomy. However, not just him. The results of his own research are placed in this book by Andreas Vesalius. Their contribution to science was much more important than the value of describing the performance of predecessors. A scientific discovery was made in the essay based on new methods of learning. They were crucial for the development of science at that time.

Diplomatically lavish praise for Galen and versatility of his knowledge and greatness of mind, Vesalius only pointed to the “inaccuracies” in the teachings of this physician. However, there were more than 200 in total. They are essentially a refutation of the most important provisions of the Halévo doctrine.


Vesalius in particular was the first to refute his opinion that a person has holes in the heart septum through which presumed blood is transferred from the right ventricle to the left. Andreas showed that the left and right ventricles do not communicate with each other during the postembryonic period. However, from the discovery of Vesalius, who refuted Galene’s ideas about the physiological nature of blood circulation, the scientist could not draw the right conclusions. Only Harvey has succeeded in this.

The fateful pamphlet of Silvius

A long-awaited storm broke after publication of this great work by Andreas Vesalius. His teacher, Sylvius, always regarded Galen’s authority as undisputed. He believed that anything that was inconsistent with the image or description of the great Roman was wrong. For this reason, Silvius rejected his student’s discoveries. He called Andreas a “slanderer,” a “proud man,” a “monster” whose breath infects Europe. Students Sylvia supported his teacher. They also opposed Andreas and called him a blasphemer and an ignoramus. Sylvius, however, was not limited to insults. In 1555 he wrote a sharp pamphlet called “Refutation of the Slander of a Madman …”. In 28 chapters, Sylvius witty mocks his former friend and student and renounces him.

The fateful role that this pamphlet plays in destiny was the great scientist who was Andreas Vesalius. His biography would probably have been supplemented by many more interesting discoveries in the field of anatomy, if not for this document, steeped in jealous jealousy and anger. He united his enemies and created an atmosphere of public contempt around the name Vesalius. Andreas was accused of not respecting the teachings of Galen and Hippocrates. These scholars were not formally sanctified by the Catholic Church, almighty at the time. However, their authority and judgment were accepted as the truths of Scripture. That is why the objection against them was equated with the rejection of the latter. Vesalius was also a follower of Sylvia. Therefore, if Sylvius accused his charges of defamation,


Note that the teacher defended Andreas’ authority. Gal is not at all interested. The indignation of the scientist was due to the fact that Vesalius, who undermines Galen’s reputation, destroyed Sylvius himself, because his knowledge was based on the texts of the classics of medicine, carefully studied and handed over to his students.

The fate of the Andreas department

Andreas Vesalius facts, biography and contribution to medicine

Deadly wound Vesalius struck Sylvia leaflet. Andreas Vesalius was unable to recover from this battle, whose biography from that moment was marked by many difficulties that our hero faced.

In Padua there was opposition to Andreas’ views. One of his most active opponents was Reald Colombo, a student of Vesalius and his deputy in the department. Colombo after the publication of the insinuation, Silvia changed his attitude towards Andreas dramatically. He began to criticize him, trying to discredit the scientist among students.


Vesalius left Padua in 1544. After that, Colombo was appointed anatomy department. However, he only worked as a professor for a year. In 1545 Colombo moved to the University of Pisa. And in 1551 he occupied the department in Rome and worked in this city until his death. Gabriel Fallopy replaced Colombo in the Padua department. He declared himself a disciple and heir to Vesalius and continued his traditions with honor.

Vesalius enters the royal service

Andreas Vesalius, the founder of scientific anatomy, was driven to despair by the evil stories of Sylvia. He had to stop his research work. In addition, Vesalius burned some of the materials and manuscripts that were collected for his future works. In 1544 he was forced to switch to medical practice, in the service of Charles V, who was fighting against France at that time. As a military surgeon, Vesalius had to go with him to the theater of operations.

The war ended in September 1544. Andreas went to Brussels. Here Vesalius father died soon. The scientist inherited from the death of his father and started a family. In January 1545, Charles V. arrived in Brussels, Andreas was to become his doctor. Karl suffered from gout. He ate very indecently. The doctor Andreas Vesalius has put a lot of effort into relieving his suffering.


Charles V renounced the throne in 1555. Vesalius began serving with Philip II, his son. The last in 1559 moved with his court from Brussels to Madrid, and Andreas and his family followed him.

Pilgrimage to Palestine, death

Andreas Vesalius facts biography and contribution to medicine

Vesalius mercilessly began to pursue the Spaniards, the Inquisition. He was accused of killing a living person during the corpse preparation. Andreas Vesalius, whose contribution to medicine was immense, was sentenced to death. Only thanks to the king’s intercession was it replaced by a new punishment: a pilgrimage to Palestine. Vesalius would go to the Holy Sepulcher. It was a difficult and dangerous journey at the time.

Already on the way home, the ship of Andreas The entrance to the Strait of Corinth had perished. The scientist was thrown around. Zante. He is seriously ill here. On 2 October 1564, the famous doctor died at the age of 50. Andreas Vesalius was buried on this remote pine-covered island.


The contribution to medicine of this scientist is hard to overestimate. Before his time, his performance was simply revolutionary. Fortunately, the works of such a scientist as Andreas Vesalius were not in vain. His most important discoveries were developed and supplemented by numerous followers, who appeared more and more after his death.

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