Renaissance Anatomy: The Path from Ars to Scientia with a Focus on Anatomical Works of Johannes Jessenius

Tomáš Nejeschleba



Johannes Jessenius (1566–1621) became known by his contemporaries mostly as an exponent of the Italian anatomical Renaissance in Central Europe at the end of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The image of Jessenius in the twentieth century was also created with respect to his activities in the area of anatomy in Wittenberg and Prague in particular. The aim of this article is to put Jessenius into the context of the development of anatomy in the sixteenth century. An important point in this progression can be seen in the change of the definition of anatomy from the art (ars) of dis- secting bodies and a “method” of instructing students to the way of acquiring knowledge (scientiaa) of bodies and nature. The crucial role in this process played anatomical writings of the second half of the 16th century and the development seems to be connected with methodological discussions at the University of Padua. Jessenius, in his anatomical writings, primarily followed the Paduan anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564), whose work De humani corporis fabrica (1543) expresses the fundamental change in Renaissance anatomy. In addition, the methodological background of the anatomical Renaissance, which Jessenius became acquainted with during his studies in Padua, also echoes in Jessenius’ works.


renaissance anatomy; Renaissance methodology; Johannes Jessenius

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