Significant new research on Vesalius’ life and work published in Medical History

Posted on 14 November 2012

A momentous history of medicine article appears in the latest issue of Medical History journal, which is housed in the Centre for Global Health Histories at York: ‘Vesalius Revised: His Annotations to the 1555 Fabrica’ by Professor Vivian Nutton.

Professor Nutton writes: "On the fabric of the human body (1543) by the Flemish physician Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) was acknowledged immediately as marking a revolution in the understanding of the anatomy of the human body. It set new standards with the quality of its illustrations and accuracy of descriptions. A second, corrected edition followed in 1555, by which time Vesalius was employed by the King of Spain as one of his doctors. Little further was known of his activities."

A remarkable discovery has thrown new light on many aspects of Vesalius' life and work. In his article in October’s Medical History, Professor Nutton describes the hundreds of notes and corrections to both text and drawings made by Vesalius for a planned, but never published third edition. "They range from changes of wording to instructions to the publisher, and from information gained from reading to new thoughts on osteology." The new notes show how Vesalius' passion for anatomy continued in Spain, and illuminate his methods of working as well as his relations with his publisher, Oporinus.

This is a truly significant find: no future history of medicine in the Renaissance will be able to neglect this evidence for the greatest of all anatomists at work.

The full article is freely available to all scholars via Medical History’s website.

Vesalius Revised. His Annotations to the 1555 Fabrica’ is freely available to download via Medical History’s website.

The Department of History's Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya is editor of Medical History, and the editorial office is housed within the Centre for Global Health Histories.

Medical History is a refereed journal devoted to all aspects of the history of medicine, health and related sciences, with the goal of broadening and deepening the understanding of the field, in the widest sense, by historical studies of the highest quality. For more information, please visit Medical History's website at Cambridge Journals Online.