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ITALIAN JOURNAL OF VASCULAR AND ENDOVASCULAR SURGERY

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Official Journal of the Italian Society of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
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HISTORY OF VASCULAR SURGERY: PERSONALITIES, TECHNIQUES, TURNING POINTS  


Giornale Italiano di Chirurgia Vascolare 1999 September;6(3):215-26

language: English, Italian

Michele Serveto d’Aragona and the less­er cir­cu­la­tion

Argenteri A.

From the Department of Vascular Surgery University of Pavia, Italy Division of Vascular Surgery, Polo Universitario Istituto di Cura, Città di Pavia


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Miguel Servet y Rives (Michele Serveto), a Spaniard ­from Saragossa who was ­born in 1510 and was ­burnt at the ­stake in 1543 by the Inquisition, ­remains one of the ­most mys­ter­i­ous and fas­ci­nat­ing fig­ures of the 16th cen­tu­ry. A theo­lo­gian, phi­los­o­pher, geog­ra­pher, astron­o­mer, astrol­o­ger and phy­si­cian, he embod­ies the pur­est and ­most com­plete expres­sion of Renaissance man pro­ject­ed ­towards new ­faiths, in eve­ry ­field. While ­still a ­young man, his inquir­ing and live­ly ­mind led him to ­write “Trinitatis error­i­bus” ­whose con­tents imme­di­ate­ly result­ed in an inqui­si­to­ri­al ­trial and sub­se­quent con­dem­na­tion. The ­author was ­forced to ­take ref­uge in Lyons ­where he start­ed his med­i­cal stud­ies. He stud­ied med­i­cine ­under Jacob Dubois (Sylvius) in Paris, and it is ­from ­this ­date ­that his friend­ship ­with Vesalius ­also ­dates. The meet­ing of ­these two live­ly ­minds ­laid the ear­ly foun­da­tions for the ­future Galenic rev­o­lu­tion. Serveto ­then ­moved to Vienne, a ­city in the Dauphiné, ­where he ­worked as a doc­tor with­out aban­don­ing his theo­log­i­cal and phil­o­soph­i­cal stud­ies. He ­entered ­into a ­long cor­re­spon­dence ­with Calvin, but ­their ide­as and char­ac­ters ­were rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent: as a ­result of ­this ­clash, Calvin him­self anon­y­mous­ly ­denounced Serveto’s ­book “Christianismi resti­tu­tio” to the Inquisition. He was impris­oned but man­aged to ­escape to Geneva ­where he was recap­tured, ­tried and sen­tenced to the ­stake. In ­this ­last ­book, writ­ten ­against a theo­log­i­cal back­ground, Serveto ded­i­cates six pag­es to his intui­tions regard­ing the pul­mo­nary cir­cu­la­tion, over­throw­ing Galenic dog­ma on the sub­ject. The descrip­tion of the less­er cir­cu­la­tion is ana­lyt­i­cal and pre­cise, start­ing ­from the pre­sump­tion ­that ­there ­were no ­pores in the inter­ven­tric­u­lar sep­tum, as was ­thought at the ­time. Above all, his intui­tion was ­opposed to the the­o­ries of Realdo Colombo, who ­despite ­being ­more accu­rate ­than the Spanish ­author, pub­lished his ­data post­hu­mous­ly in 1559.

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