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Andreus Vesalius (Belgium)

The stamp

This stamp was issued in Belgium, where Versalius was born, in 1964, 400 years after Versalius’ death.

The doctor

Andreus Versalius was born on 31 December 1514 in Brussels, which was then part of the huge Habsberg Empire. His name was actually Andries van Wesel but was later written in Latin as Andreus Versalius.

He came from a medical family; his father was an apothecary and his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were all royal doctors. Versalius studied medicine in the Universities of Leuven, Paris and Padua and eventually became Professor of Anatomy in Padua.

He introduced the new idea of doing his own dissections of bodies and realised the books of Galen, from which everyone learned their antomy, were often wrong (Galen dissected animals not humans).

The urology connection

The first published picture of the prostate was in a series of anatomical images made by Versalius to teach his students, in a book called the Tablulae Anatomia Sex (the six tables of anatomy). They look like early posters that students would fix to the wall to revise their anatomy! There are only two copies remaining, of which one is in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

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