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How much progress had been made in medicine by the end of the renaissance?

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Introduction

Charlotte Allen 24th October '07 How much progress had been made in medicine by the end of the Renaissance? The Renaissance was a time of profound change for the people of Western Europe. During the era from 1500 to 1750, great developments were taking place. There were new artists to show accurate representations of the body, new learning such as the rediscovery of old ideas, reformation and the church became less powerful, new inventions such as the printing press and what I think maybe is the most important of all is travel. The discovery of new lands and new ideas was vital, because doctors learnt new methods and techniques, but they also were able to get new herbs and foods, therefore enabling us to create more medicines and remedies. Although not all the ideas and thoughts were correct in the Renaissance, compared to the Middle Ages it was a real breakthrough. During the Middle Ages there was hardly any effective natural cures and the doctors etc. still believed and used Galen and Hippocrates' ideas about the four humours. They were getting nowhere with no new ideas. The Black Death just proves how little they actually knew about disease and how it's spread. ...read more.

Middle

Individuals Versalius: Versalius was a very important figure in history. He proved Galen wrong. Galen had said that there were two bones in the jaw, but Versalius proved that there was only one. This didn't go down very well because people had believed in Galen and his ideas for hundreds of years, and the church really like Galen as well, because he believed that it was God who created the body. But Versalius began doing lots of dissections and people eventually could see that he was telling the truth. Versalius also published books and with the printing press they were widely popular. Harvey: Harvey was also important. He discovered lots about the circulation of blood around the body. Harvey also proved Galen wrong. Galen had claimed that blood was burnt up in the muscles, but Harvey proved this was, in fact, impossible. He then discovered that blood only travelled around the body in one direction. He did experiments to prove this. He would insert a probe into the vein, and then slide it up and down. It would slide easily one way, but then it wouldn't the other way, so it would be the same with blood. Harvey then wrote a book called 'Anatomical Account of the Motion of the Heart and Blood'. ...read more.

Conclusion

It shows that they still don't really know what causes disease, but they knew (or guessed) that dirty streets didn't help and that if someone had the plague, they shouldn't go near anyone else. They sort of knew about germs. They said that there was nasty monsters, but they didn't know what they were or how the spread, but they knew a lot more than they did in the Black Death, where practically none of this measures were enforced, because they were not as well informed about it all. Conclusion The Renaissance was about changes in ideas and attitudes but this did not increase life expectancy because not all of the new ideas were correct, and therefore some people were still dying and also the streets were hardly any cleaner, and because they were so dirty, people were getting ill that way. Rats, lice and fleas were a part of everyday life for most people. Houses were made of wood, mud and horse dung. The Renaissance writer, Erasmus, gave a description of the floors in English houses as being full of '...spittle and vomit and urine of dogs and men, beer that has been thrown out, remnants of fishes and filth unnameable.' So quite a lot of progress had been made, but not all of it helped life expectancy very much, and the streets were all dirty. ...read more.

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