Introduction by Vivian Nutton

Historical Introduction
THE birth of Andreas Vesalius took place on the last day of 1514 or early on the following morning. This uncertainty about the origins of so famous an anatomist exemplifies much about his career, his aims, and his intellectual debts to others. His eventual appointment as personal physician to the most powerful monarch in Europe has been regularly viewed as an aberration or as a decision he came ultimately to regret. The very success of his programme for the revival of human dissection has obscured what others were doing, or had already done. The fame of his most important book, De humani corporis fabrica, On the fabric of the human body, a prized possession of more than a hundred libraries worldwide, has often led it to be seen as a typical product of the renaissance genius, although it is almost alone as a medical book in the elegance of its printing and in the beauty of its illustrations. This introduction will attempt a more nuanced view by placing Vesalius into a broad context, looking in turn at his life, his great book, and his impact on his contemporaries.

Introduction by Vivian Nutton