Do you usually link Renaissance to advances in medicine? Typically, when we talk about the Renaissance period, we talk about an explosion of learning and creativity. From paintings to music, this was a tremendous time for the arts in particular. However, the era of the Renaissance, which lasted from the middle 1400s until the 1700s, also featured major developments in European medicine. Here are some of the important facts surrounding the Renaissance period and medicine:
1. New knowledge and inventions improved medicine
A flurry of new knowledge and inventions helped to advance medicine quickly, during the Renaissance. There were no instruments yet to observe bacteria, and thus create a need for cheap urbane scrubs. However, diagrams of the human body and the printing press both had a huge influence on the world of medicine. Thus, doctors had a better comprehension of how the human body functioned, than during any previous era in Europe’s history.
2. Galen was no longer king
During the previous Middle Ages, the medical world considered Galen’s writings to be infallible. Galen was an ancient Greek living in Rome, who had developed the concepts of Hippocrates, “The Father of Medicine.”
However, during the Renaissance, doctors took a more practical and academic approach to training in their profession. Medical students studied from books with realistic diagrams of humans. In addition to better books, doctors-in-training also had access to more of them, thanks to the invention of the printing press. In fact, universities even permitted students to dissect humans, towards the end of the Renaissance. This practice had previously been limited to animals.
3. Science began to supersede spirituality
During the Renaissance, people still held to some spiritual reasoning regarding diseases. For instance, people were unaware that bacteria existed, and could spread from person-to-person. However, logic became king, due to a new wealth of knowledge available, and an efficient way to distribute it faster-the printing press. In addition, the training for surgical procedures greatly improved. Apprentices would learn surgical techniques, from an active surgeon. Interestingly, universities themselves failed to supply doctors-in-training with these skills. Nevertheless, the improvements in textbooks about human anatomy significantly boosted the complexity of the surgeries that doctors did.
4. Many did not embrace advances in medicine
While the Renaissance ushered in a new era of medical knowledge and skills, not everyone was impressed. During the Renaissance, home remedies remained a vital aspect of medical treatment, for many people. In fact, some people still sought treatments from local shaman who lacked formal training in the medical profession. Also, many “old-school” doctors and the Catholic Church still adhered to the teachings of Galen. However, within time, medical advances during the Renaissance would revolutionize the whole professional.
The Renaissance was clearly an era of enlightenment and developments. Besides the fantastic output in the arts, the medical profession flourished as well. While doctors were yet unaware of bacteria or the need to wear scrubs during surgeries, they were nonetheless learning. Essentially starting with the Renaissance, spiritual doctors were becoming scientific doctors!