Medical Renaissance

Medical Renaissance

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Medical Renaissance is the term often applied to the period, around 1400 to 1700, of major progress in medical knowledge and a renewed interest in the ancient ideas of the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. This movement was made possible by the Reformation of the Church
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, a decline in Conservatism
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

, the work of individuals such as Andreas Vesalius & William Harvey
William Harvey
William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...

 and technological advances. All of these took place during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 period.

Despite the medical advances made during this period, it would take many hundreds of years before the effects of the progress would be felt, even by the people highest in the social ranks; Charles II of England
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 died at the age of 55, in 1685, of a stroke, despite having some of the most respected and educated doctors in the country treating him. They tried methods such as bleeding
Bleeding
Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging or haemorrhaging is the loss of blood or blood escape from the circulatory system...

, laxative
Laxative
Laxatives are foods, compounds, or drugs taken to induce bowel movements or to loosen the stool, most often taken to treat constipation. Certain stimulant, lubricant, and saline laxatives are used to evacuate the colon for rectal and/or bowel examinations, and may be supplemented by enemas under...

s and giving him a potion containing a bezoar
Bezoar
A bezoar is a mass found trapped in the gastrointestinal system , though it can occur in other locations. A pseudobezoar is an indigestible object introduced intentionally into the digestive system....

 stone, despite these methods having been proved ineffective by Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré was a French surgeon. He was the great official royal surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and is considered as one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology. He was a leader in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially the...

 and having been made inferior by other treatments that were developed during this time.

Factors


Without several interlinking factors, the progress made during the Medical Renaissance towards medical understanding could not have been possible.

Science and technology


One of the most important inventions of the Renaissance was the Printing Press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

; in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 books were written by hand, by monks and scholars, and therefore were few in number and very precious, so very few left the monasteries where they were kept. The Printing Press lead to the creation of thousands of copies of books, containing no mistakes, and had a dramatic impact on Medicine during this time. This meant that the books containing these new ideas could be spread quickly and accurately. They also were able to contain detailed drawings made by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, which accompanied the text. For the first time physicians had detailed, accurate drawings of the human body.

The Microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

 was another very important invention which occurred during the Renaissance and would continue to be improved upon until modern times, though the writings of Seneca and Pliny the Elder mention 'magnifying glasses' as far back as the first century A.D.. In the 17th Century, Anthony van Leeuwenhoek made microscopes with magnification up to 270X, and was able to see micro-organisms; nobody suggested, however, that these were the cause of disease and for hundreds of years no progress would be made upon the matter. The microscope would later be used by both Pasteur and Koch, to view micro-organisms, and to help them to make vital discoveries.

Protestant Reformation


The Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 during this time was itself due to many things, including the perception of corruption within the Church. The ideas of Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, a Greek physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 of the 2nd century AD, were enforced and adopted by the Church; Galen was a Monotheist and his ideas did not question any of the Church's, additionally his ideas had been the accepted wisdom of the medical world for over a thousand years; anyone who went against these ideas were either punished or suppressed, and that was unlikely considering that the Church controlled the teachings that went on inside the medical profession and universities. Individuals such as Vesalius (see below) found it very difficult to overcome such opposition and were forced to dissect human subjects in secret, because it was banned. However once they began investigating they found things which challenged Galen's theories on the human body, because Galen had only been able to dissect animals. In 1531 Johannes Guinter published a Latin translation of 'On Anatomical Procedures', written by Galen, in which he stressed the need to dissect human bodies, bringing to light a previously unknown approval of human dissection. This discovery would prove vital in the lifting of the ban on human dissections. Thanks to the recent invention of the printing press (see above), news of the discoveries made by individuals such as Vesalius was impossible for the Church to stop spreading, having been severely weakened by the Reformation.

William Harvey


Main article William Harvey
William Harvey
William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...



William Harvey was an English medical doctor-physician, most famous for his contributions in heart and blood movement. Although not the first to propose pulmonary circulation (Ibn an-Nafis, Servetus and Columbo preceded him), he is credited as the first person in the Western world to give quantitative arguments for the circulation of blood around the body. Previous thought had believed blood to be transformed food made in the liver and that it was consumed by the tissues, not recirculated. Harvey calculated that 600 lbs of blood was pumped per day, therefore making the hypothesis absurd. Without his contributions, the development of medical science and its life-saving ability would have been severely impeded. He was the foundation for all modern research on the heart and blood vessels. He got a degree for medical studies at age 16 at Oxford.

Andreas Vesalius


Main article Andreas Vesalius

Vesalius was a Flemish-born anatomist whose dissections of the human body helped to correct the misconceptions made in Ancient Times, particularly by Galen, who (for religious reasons) had been able only to study animals such as dogs and monkeys. Dissection of human bodies was still frowned upon in Vesalius' time (1514-64), as it had been for many hundreds of years, and Vesalius was forced to take the bodies of executed prisoners in secret. He wrote many books on anatomy from his observations, most notably 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica', which contained detailed drawings of the human body posed as if alive.

Ambroise Paré


Main article Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré was a French surgeon. He was the great official royal surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and is considered as one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology. He was a leader in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially the...



Paré was a French Surgeon, anatomist and inventor of many surgical instruments
Surgical instruments
A surgical instrument is a specially designed tool or device for performing specific actions of carrying out desired effects during a surgery or operation, such as modifying biological tissue, or to provide access for viewing it. Over time, many different kinds of surgical instruments and tools...

. Through 1533–36 he was a military surgeon
Surgeon
In medicine, a surgeon is a specialist in surgery. Surgery is a broad category of invasive medical treatment that involves the cutting of a body, whether human or animal, for a specific reason such as the removal of diseased tissue or to repair a tear or breakage...

 during the French campaigns in Italy. It was here that, having run out of boiling oil, which was the accepted way of treating firearm wounds, Paré turned to an ancient roman remedy of turpentine, egg yolk and oil of roses. He applied it to the wounds and found that it relieved pain and sealed the wound effectively. As well as this breakthrough Paré also introduced the ligatures of arteries; silk threads would be used to tie up the arteries of amputated limbs to try and stop the bleeding, unfortunately, as antiseptics had not yet been invented this method lead to an increased fatality rate and was quickly abandoned by medical professionals of the time.

Additionally, Paré set up a school for midwives in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and designed artificial limbs.

Impact


Many of the discoveries made during the Renaissance had a major impact on the medical community as they disproved Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

's theory of the opposites, something that had been previously believed for centuries. However, Galen's theories were still widely accepted despite having been disproven by these discoveries