Science and medicine in the renaissance

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science and medicine in the renaissance

The Devils Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science by Philip Ball

Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, who called himself Paracelsus, stands at the cusp of medieval and modern times. A contemporary of Luther, an enemy of the medical establishment, a scourge of the universities, an alchemist, an army surgeon, and a radical theologian, he attracted myths even before he died. His fantastic journeys across Europe and beyond were said to be made on a magical white horse, and he was rumored to carry the elixir of life in the pommel of his great broadsword. His name was linked with Faust, who bargained with the devil.


Who was the man behind these stories? Some have accused him of being a charlatan, a windbag who filled his books with wild speculations and invented words. Others claim him as the father of modern medicine. Philip Ball exposes a more complex truth in The Devils Doctor—one that emerges only by entering into Paracelsus’s time. He explores the intellectual, political, and religious undercurrents of the sixteenth century and looks at how doctors really practiced, at how people traveled, and at how wars were fought. For Paracelsus was a product of an age of change and strife, of renaissance and reformation. And yet by uniting the diverse disciplines of medicine, biology, and alchemy, he assisted, almost in spite of himself, in the birth of science and the emergence of the age of rationalism.  
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Medical Renaissance

Here are the tales of 13 unnerving but real life-saver practices from old times that are still used today. The medical practices of the Middle Ages have always made us more grateful for the modern advancement in medical sciences. The scary instruments, nasty medicines and weird rituals of the old time are enough to make a healthy guy sick, leave curing them. But like everything in the Universe, it was not all bad. While scary and weird, some of these practices were very effective. Later-half of the Middle Ages saw a new development in the medical science. Renaissance thinkers and physicians like Vesalius, Da Vinci, Pare et al, innovated new practices and revived some very old ones.

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Middle Ages

Some knowledge of Western civilisation at the time of the Renaissance will help you understand the medicine of the Early Modern Age. In the 15th century AD, there was a 'rebirth' of European civilisation. Although the Renaissance saw an improvement in medical knowledge, particularly of anatomy and physiology, many people rejected the new ideas. Further, doctors still did not manage to use their discoveries to develop better cures for their patients, because they had still not discovered the role that germs play in causing disease. Six key changes Some knowledge of Western civilisation at the time of the Renaissance will help you understand the medicine of the Early Modern Age. The economy boomed and trade prospered. People could afford doctors.

The Medical Renaissance , from to CE, is the period of progress in European medical knowledge, and a renewed interest in the ideas of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations , along with Arabic-Persian medicine , after the Latin translation movement. Such medical discoveries during the Medical Renaissance are credited with paving the way for modern medicine. The Medical Renaissance began just as the original Renaissance did, in the early s. Medical researchers continued their Renaissance-evoked practices into the late s. Florence, Italy was credited by most historians for being an influential hub for medical research and communications of proven advancements in the field of medicine.

Before the Renaissance, medicine in Europe was largely built upon theories, with little research into what actually worked. Knowledge filtering from the Islamic world improved the situation somewhat, but even their contribution hailed back to the incorrect assumptions made by Aristotle and Pliny the Elder. Once a disease has entered the body, all parts which are healthy must fight it: not one alone, but all. Because a disease might mean their common death. Nature knows this; and Nature attacks the disease with whatever help she can muster. Largely due to a shift towards a more scientific approach, aided by the anatomical expertise of Renaissance artists, the situation improved as physicians gradually threw out superstition and alchemy, developing cures and improving surgical procedures. The main change in Renaissance medicine was largely due to the increase in anatomical knowledge, aided by an easing of the legal and cultural restrictions on dissecting cadavers.

4 COMMENTS

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  2. Rhys G. says:

    Medical Renaissance.

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