Bemmel, William van (attributed) (Dutch 1630-1708)

Dr. William Harvey (1578-1657)

Reference Type:
c. 1655
William Harvey (1578-1657) studied medicine at the University of Padua after being educated at King’s College, Canterbury, and Cambridge. He was tutored by scientist and surgeon Hieronymus Fabricius, who was fascinated by anatomy and realized that the veins in the body had one-way valves. He did not understand their function, however. Harvey built upon Fabricius’s teaching, and after further investigation finally discovered the truth. After returning to England in 1602, he married the daughter of Elizabeth I’s physician in 1604 and became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1607. In 1609 he was appointed physician to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. In 1618 he became physician to James I and then his son Charles I, both of whom took a close interest in his research. He dissected animals to assist his studies, and in 1628 published “An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals,” where he explained how the heart sent blood throughout the body. He was also the first to suggest that mammals reproduced through sperm fertilizing an egg; while it was given credibility during his lifetime, it would be 200 years before a mammalian egg was actually observed. Notes by Mariann Smith
History of Medicine
The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow