Tag Archives: Renaissance

A tale of three doctors

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Early print of an execution by guillotine, as proposed by Dr. Guillotin. Jean-François Janinet, c. 1789–1791. Musée Carnavalet, Histoire de Paris via Wikimedia. Public domain. “How true it is that it is difficult to benefit mankind without some unpleasantness resulting for oneself.” – Dr. Edme-Claude Bourru, giving Dr. Guillotin’s eulogy […]

The painting of the Good Samaritan in Bracciano Castle

Stephen Martin Thailand   Fig. 1. The Good Samaritan, Bracciano Castle, Lazio, Italy, c. 1600–1610. Photographed by author with curator’s permission to publish in Hektoen International. The Orsini of Bracciano were one of the richest and most powerful aristocratic families in early modern Italy.1 Much of their impressive collection remains in Bracciano Castle, Lazio,2 and […]

What makes a polymath, a genius, or a man who knows everything?

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Einstein playing his violin. From CMUSE via Quora. Public domain. The question posed in this title is of course imponderable and ridiculous, but nevertheless fascinating. Until the Enlightenment (c. 1750–1800), an intellectual “Renaissance man” could have read most of the important books printed. He might well […]

The wayward Paracelsus

JMS Pearce East Yorks, England   Fig 1. Aureolus Philippus Theophrastus von Hohenheim (Paracelsus). Via Wikimedia. Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest Let no man be another’s who can be himself Paracelsus 1552   Paracelsus was the most original, controversial character of the Renaissance,1 who brazenly questioned and condemned the dictates of Galen and […]

Girolamo Cardano: Renaissance physician and polymath

Born at Pavia in the duchy of Lombardy in 1501, Girolamo Cardano practiced medicine for fifty years but is remembered chiefly as a polymath. He composed 200 works, made important contributions to mathematics and algebra, invented several mechanical devices (some still in use today), and published extensive philosophical tracts and commentaries on the ancient philosophers […]

Ghirlandaio, humanism, and truth: the portrait of an elderly man and young boy

Vincent P. de Luise New Haven, Connecticut, United States   Figure 1. Portrait of an Elderly Man and Child (Ritratto di un Vecchio e Nipote) Domenico Ghirlandaio, tempera on poplar panel. 1490. Louvre. Source. “. . . There is no more human a picture in the entire range of Quattrocento painting, whether in or out […]

Faith and patron saints during the Black Death

Mariella Scerri Mellieha, Malta   Saint Roch. 1502. Francesco Francia.  Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain.  The Black Death of 1348 was the greatest biomedical disaster in European history. Although it was not the first plague epidemic, the Black Death swept through Europe, killing millions indiscriminately and affecting society like no other natural calamity.1 Attempts to understand the […]

Science versus religion: the medieval disenchantment

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. An engraving showing a monopod or sclapod, a female Cyclops, conjoined twins, a blemmye, and a cynocephali. By Sebastian Münster 1544. Source History is a novel whose author is the people. -Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863)   In medieval times, knowledge, beliefs, and faith were largely centered upon a […]

Trying to conceive: royal fertility issues in Renaissance times

Julius P. Bonello Peoria, Illinois, United States   Photos by Julius Bonello Dynasties beget legacies. An enduring legacy is important to all great leaders. However, dynasties need time—time to accomplish major national objectives or memorable feats. Today that is why our elected officials, to pass on a lasting legacy, spend much of their time campaigning […]

What can physicians learn from Benjamin Rush, blood, and the Red Cross?

Ryan Hill Jamestown, Rhode Island, United States   Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, Benjamin Rush, circa 1818. Independence National Historical Park. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Despite the adamant opposition he encountered from many of his contemporaries, Dr. Benjamin Rush was undeterred; he was certain that bloodletting was the most prudent of all medical procedures and remained […]