Individuals of the Medical Renaissance

The three main individuals of the Medical Renaissance. GCSE HISTORY- MEDICINE AND HEALTH THROUGH TIME.

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The Medical Renaissance

Individuals from the Medical Renaissance:

(Pare, Harvey and Vesalius)

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Ambroise Pare

Specialism: Surgery                  Born: 1510- France            Died: 1590

What change did he make?

Pare re-discovered an old Roman method for treating wounds: it was type of ointment. This led to the better treatment of the wounds that the soldiers got.

Pare also invented ligatures (ribbons of silk used to tie wounds)--> now known as stitches. This was because he disagreed with cauterising (a method of sealing blood vessels.)

Factors that helped Pare:

  • War: Pare was a war surgeon and this helped him gain a huge understanding of injuries and how to deal with them- in general it gave him hands on experience.
  • Chance: Once, Pare ran out of boiling oil (an oil he was not keen on treating patients with) and so had the chance, to use his own adoption of a Roman remedy. It turned out that this cleaned the wound faster and didn't hurt the patient as much. 
  • Individuals: Pare had a very strong opinion on cauterisation and was adamant it shouldn't be used and that his own method was better. He stood by his ideas and eventually other surgeons started using these methods.
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William Harvey

Born: 1578 in Kent.  Died: 1657         Specialism: The circulation of the Blood

What change did he make?

Harvey showed that blood flows around the body, is carried away from the heart by arteries and returns by veins. He proved the heart acts like a pump, re-circulating the blood, thus it is not used up like Galen thought it was.

Even today we wouldn't be able to complete heart surgery such as repairing a hole in the heart or blood poisoning if we still believed the blood was used up

Factors that helped Harvey:

  • Individuals: It was uncommon at the time, to go against Galen and therefore the church but Harvey was willing to do this and had the natural curiosity to find out what he wanted to know.
  • Technology: Better surgical equipment meant that Harvey could dissect organs more precisely and they also allowed to him keep subjects alive for a short time as he dissected them to see how their hearts worked.
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Born: Brussels 1514     Died: 1564      Specialism: Anatomy

What change did he make?

Although it sounds silly, one of the most important changes that Vesalius made was to prove Galen wrong! This was because it gave others the opportunity to make new medical discoveries that would have originally have been overlooked (especially by the church, whom believed everything that Galen had said.)

Factors that helped Vesalius:

  • Technology: The invention of the printing press meant that Vesalius could spread his ideas from his book 'The Fabric of the Human Body' quickly and easily.
  • Education: Vesalius studied at a university in Italy. He did this when students were allowed to observe dissections of criminal's bodies. This meant that Vesalius was able to discover more about the anatomy of the human body for he had the evidence right there in front of him.


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