S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Travels with Vesalius

Someday I would like to write something about maps or travel in the Medieval or Early Modern time period. I don't have any particular ideas at this point. I know it's a relatively popular subject, but it's one I keep wandering back to in a very casual way.

Studying Vesalius this week reminded me of this. Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) was born in Brussels, did his undergraduate degree locally at Louvain (now Leuwens), studied medicine at the University of Paris before the war between France and the Holy Roman Empire inconveniently flared up, travelled to Padova, where the best medical university in the West of his day was, and four days later, had his doctorate of medicine in hand and was teaching. He went to Basel (conveniently en route between Padova and Louvain) to supervise the woodcuts for his De Humani Corporis Fabrica. Later, he travelled all over the place as an army surgeon. With the permission of his employer, he eventually made it to the Holy Lands and died in Greece in a shipwreck en route back home. Sure, his journeys don't begin to rival that of consummate travels such as - say - Ibn Battuta - but then travel is not what Vesalius is best known for. But travelling not only makes his life more interesting to read about, but also, at least for me, makes it easier to remember what he did and in what order. I can see it in the geography.

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