Developments in the Renaissance

Medicine in the Renaissance

The Renaissance was a period of great change and innovation. The arts and culture flourished and a large number of doctors and artists took a great interest in the human body. From the likes of Leonardo da Vinci through to lesser known doctors, there is a wealth of evidence of interest, exploration and experimentation at the time. Technological change also impacted on medicine. The culture shock that was the renaissance led to several huge breakthroughs, though much remained very much the same.

The Renaissance was a period of ‘re-birth’. An era where tradition was challenged and numerous new ideas formed. This affected society in numerous ways and has had a lasted impact. The Renaissance saw the invention of the printing press, in Germany. This invention had a massive impact on medicine and allowed the anatomists of the age, such as Vesalius, to have their work mass produced and distributed. The impact on learning was immense.

Medicine in the Renaissance


The renaissance also saw new technologies emerge. Look at the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci to see how revolutionary some of the ideas of the time were. Technology impacted on numerous areas of everyday life, consequently affecting health and treatments. Warfare developed, new weapons emerged and subsequently new treatments were required. In a time of innovation, challenges to the old order and invention, experimentation and risk became more common. While dangerous, it led to huge improvements in knowledge, though not necessarily to treatments.

Medicine in the Renaissance

Andreas VesaliusAndreas Vesalius

The illustrations and research of Vesalius are incredibly detailed and accurate. Learn about his methods and the impact of his work here.
William HarveyWilliam Harvey

Discover how Harvey made his discoveries about the circulation of blood. What was the impact at the time?

Find out how a desperate battlefield situation led to Pare becoming one of the preeminent surgeons of his day.
Great Plague of 1666Great Plague of 1666

Learn about the spread of the disease and the beliefs that people had about it.

Selected Events of the Renaissance

1450 – Johannes Gutenburg invents the printing press
1485 – Start of the Tudor Dynasty in England
1492 – Columbus discovers the Americas
1503 – Da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa
1516 – Thomas More publishes ‘Utopia’
1517 – Martin Luther triggers the Reformation by posting his 96 These on the door of a church in Wittenburg
1518 – College of physicians opens in London (Now the Royal College of Physicians)
1529-1536 – Paracelsus publishes books on Medicine
1543 – Vesalius publishes De Fabrica Corporis Humani
1628 – Harvey publishes works on the circulation of blood