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Brief Overview of Renaissance Period Medicine

The Renaissance (15th and 16th centuries) was a time of new ideas and fresh thinking. People began to challenge old beliefs and put forward new theories.

There was a rediscovery of knowledge from classical Greek and Roman times, as Western doctors gained access to the original writings of Hippocrates, Galen and Avicenna. These had not been available in the medieval period. This led to greater interest in the Four Humours Theory.

The Renaissance also saw the emergence of science as we know it today, from the magic and mysticism of medieval medicine. People began thinking about the human body and came to their own conclusions about the causes of disease. People began to question Galen and other ancient doctors. Although religion was still very important, the church no longer had so much control over the medical teaching due to the Reformation.

The Renaissance period saw a revival of learning. Universities established schools where experiments were conducted, observations recorded, and conclusion reached. Soon, scholars began to conduct experiments which led them to question the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans.

Renaissance period artists, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Titian revolutionised painting – this led to the study of the body in more detail and was connected to improved knowledge of anatomy. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg also allowed new ideas to spread more quickly around Europe.