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Anatomy, Bloodletting and Emblems

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Chapter Summary

The title-page of Nathaniel Highmore's Disquisition on the Anatomy of the Human Body (1651) depicts mythological and historical characters, anatomical and medical symbols and embodiments of anatomy, contemplation and different forms of bloodletting. This chapter presents Nathaniel Highmore's methods of investigation, his views on the relationship between anatomy and medicine, and his anatomical findings. In particular, it calls attention to his argument that the effectiveness of bloodletting can only be explained on the premise that blood circulates. The standard narrative in the history of early modern medicine is that physicians ignored anatomical findings, and the continuation of venesection long after William Harvey's discovery that blood circulates is held up as a case in point. Highmore's and van den Spiegel's title-pages share several striking features: in both Queen Anatomy is enthroned at the top of a three-tier edifice holding a skull-orb.

Keywords: bloodletting; medical symbols; Nathaniel Highmore; Van den Spiegel; William Harvey

10.1163/9789004263857_005
/content/books/b9789004263857_005
dcterms_subject,pub_keyword
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