What difference did the Renaissance make to medicine?
The discoveries of the Renaissance didn’t make a significant difference to medicine for many reasons. The main reasons for this are that the discoveries made were primarily about anatomy and physiology, not about cures and treatments, and that even though people had proven Galen to be wrong about several things, they still wouldn’t let the four humours theory go. This meant that when King Charles II became ill even the best physicians in the country couldn’t save him which just shows that medicine didn’t advance very much from the renaissance. The main reason that the renaissance didn’t make a significant difference to medicine was that the discoveries made were primarily about anatomy, not about treatments and cures. For example, Vesalius dissected bodies and produced a book including pictures of the body drawn by renaissance artists. By doing these dissections and producing his book, he realised that Galen was wrong about several things. He proved that we only have one jaw bone, not two as Galen said, he corrected the scale of our skeleton and he proved that there were no holes in the centre of the heart and therefore Galen’s theory about the heart was wrong. Although Vesalius did all this, he had still only improved the anatomical knowledge; he hadn’t discovered any cures/treatments or anything about our physiology, just that Galen was wrong with his ideas about the heart. William Harvey also did a bit of dissection to prove his theory. He focused on the distribution of blood around the body. He discovered that blood flows only one way around the body, and that blood is reused and not constantly produced by the liver as Galen had suggested. He used many complex diagrams which, when combined with the invention of the printing press, became quickly distributed throughout the world in the form of a book entitled 'An anatomical account of the motion of the heart and blood in animals'. Although this was an...
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