André Du Laurens (Andreae Laurentii)

André Du Laurens


André Du Laurens Book Cover


Historia Anatomica Humani Corporis (The History of Human Anatomy, 1599)

André du Laurens (Andreae Delaurentii) was a French physician to the King of France Henry IV (1589-1610), to whom he dedicates the current book. He was trained in, Avignon, Paris and Montpellier. His book appeared almost 60 years after the famous Vesalius atlas and text of Anatomy. Although du Laurens does not provide much original knowledge in this text, and his illustrations are taken directly from Vesalius, this textbook was highly successful in its time and is beautifully illustrated in its own right.

The book was first published in 1593 in Lyon and in 1595 in Hanau under the title "Opera anatomica" and in this rare, 1599 edition published in Frankfurt, the work appears under a different title: "Historia Anatomica…" The volume has 25 full page engravings. In it, du Laurens defends Galen and his teachings, challenged by Vesalius in his famous 1543 atlas/text, De Humanis Fabrica. The Historia Anatomica also includes 178 controversies that are argued in this book. These include the nature of the "natural spirit" one of the three "spirits" displayed in the Galenic dogma (natural, vital and animal spirits). Du Laurens' anatomical text uses concise and clear descriptions, one of the reasons for the success of the textbook. Throughout the following 40-50 years the book had seen French and Latin translations and multiple editions.

Du Laurens was born near Arles, France and died in Paris. He comes from a line of physicians including his uncle and later two of his brothers, a royal physicians. He assumed the chairmanship of medicine in Montpellier after Lauren Joubert, a famous surgeon and anatomist, the editor of the Guy de Chaulic’s Chirurgia Magna, died. In 1603 he was named chancellor of the University of Montpellier. After a successful carreer as an anatomist and surgeon, Du Laurens became royal physician to Henry IV and to the queen, Marie de Medicis.

Editorial notes by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Version

1599 Version >>>