• Charles T. Ambrose


The fame of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) rests on his anatomy text, De humani corporis fabrica, regarded as a seminal book in modern medicine. It was compiled while he taught anatomy at Padua, 1537-1543. Some of his findings challenged Galen’s writings of the 2c AD, and caused De fabrica to be rejected immediately by classically trained anatomists. At age 29, Vesalius abandoned his studies and over the next two decades served as physician to Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) and later to King Philip II of Spain in Madrid. In 1564, he sought to resume teaching anatomy in Padua, but release from royal service obliged him first to make a pilgrimage to Palestine. During the return voyage to Venice, he became ill and was put ashore alone on an Ionian island Zakynthos, where he died days later at age 50.

Key words: History of medicine; human anatomy; 16th century; Andreas Vesalius; De humani corporis fabrica;Emperor Charles V; King Philip II of Spain