Book Series Lectio, vol. 6

Towards the Authority of Vesalius

Studies on Medicine and the Human Body from Antiquity to the Renaissance and beyond

Erika Gielen, Michèle Goyens (eds)

  • Pages: 475 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:13 b/w, 6 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2018

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57914-6
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57915-3
  • E-book
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Studies on medicine and the human body from Antiquity to the Renaissance and beyond, working towards the authority of Vesalius


Erika Gielen obtained her doctoral degree in Classics from KU Leuven, with a thesis on Joseph Rhakendytès' Peri aretês. At present she is managing director of the Research Centre Lectio (KU Leuven).
Michèle Goyens is Professor of French diachronic linguistics at the University of Leuven. Her research focuses on medieval translations and the development of a scientific vocabulary in the vernacular.


The authority of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) in reviving human anatomy is without any doubt a landmark in the history of science. Yet his breakthrough was inconceivable without his predecessor’s works. Moreover, later on, his own legacy would not remain untouched or undisputed. The question of scientific authority is not new; however it has hardly been tackled in a multidisciplinary and diachronic way. This volume brings together contributions from international scholars working in the field of theology, art history, philosophy, history of science and historical linguistics. Its goal is to contextualize and analyse the complex interaction between dogma and authority on the one hand and empirical progress on the other, both in the development of anatomy and the views on the human body, mainly before Vesalius’s time. Indeed, it is not the volume’s aim to focus exclusively on the role of Vesalius nor to assess the concept of medical and anatomical authority in a comprehensive way. Avoiding to repeat insights from the history of science as such, it intends to put old views to the test, and to bring up new questions and answers from diverse perspectives concerning the work of Vesalius and his predecessors and successors, by presenting different case studies from Antiquity to the Early Modern Times.


Towards the Authority of Vesalius (Erika Gielen & Michèle Goyens)
En guise d'avant-propos... petite introduction à la lecture de la Fabrique de Vésale (Jan Godderis)

I. Vesalius as Authority
Vesalius as Authority: From the First Publications to the Opera omnia of 1725 (Ian Maclean)
Sous l'autorité d'André Vésale ou l'écriture de la science (Jacqueline Vons)
Admiration, étonnement et mirabilia chez André Vésale (Thierry Grandjean)
Anatomy, Physiology and Teleology: Galen as a Controversial Source for Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (Maria Luisa Garofalo)

II. Towards the Authority of Vesalius: Medieval Conceptions on Anatomy
Représenter et conceptualiser le corps entre médecine et anthropologie philosophique : racines, genèse et transformations de la Fabrica corporis vésalienne (Roberto Lo Presti)
La théorie des humeurs à l'aube du Moyen Âge vernaculaire (Gianluca Valenti)
L'oeil et la vision entre anatomie, pharmacopée et chirurgie au Moyen Âge : un dialogue difficile entre savoirs et développement (Iolanda Ventura)
Troubles de la vision et anatomie dans une consultation de Giovanni Battista Da Monte (Concetta Pennuto)
Des modes de vernacularisation du savoir anatomique : paradigmes désignationnels et sélection de formes. L'exemple du vocabulaire de la région des nutritifs d'après différents traités rédigés en et (XIIIe-XVe siècles) (Isabelle Verdenne-Fajolles)
L'anatomie comme base du savoir chirurgical à la fin du Moyen Âge (Sylvie Bazin-Tacchella)

III. Beyond Vesalius
The Illustrated Dissection: Drawings in the Extant Student Notes from Vesalius's Dissections (R. Allen Shotwell)
History of a Productive Failure. The Use of Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica in Some Sixteenth-Century Books on the Soul (Davide Cellamare)
Naufrages et hommages sur l'île d'André Vésale : reconnaissances d'une autorité contre la tradition (Hélène Cazes)