- Harvey, William
- (1578-1657)English physician, famous in the history of medicine as the discoverer of the circulation of the blood. His discovery appeared in his principal publication, De motu cordis / On the Motion of the Heart (1628). His theory undermined the theoretical foundations of traditional Galenic medicine. He studied medicine at Cambridge and at Padua in Italy, the most famous medical school of the Renaissance. He then worked at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London and also lectured on medicine. Beginning in 1618, he served as royal physician to Kings James I and Charles I.Observing from animal studies that that the valves in the circulatory system permit the blood to flow in only one direction, he calculated the volume of blood pumped out of the heart at each beat and concluded that the amount of blood passing through the heart was so great that the same blood must circulate repeatedly through the veins and arteries. His work is also important in the field of scientific methodology, for he permitted his quantitative calculations of the volume of blood to overrule the lack of any experimental demonstration of a connecting link between the venous system and the arteries. Not until a generation later, after the invention of the compound microscope, was there experimental confirmation of the blood's circulation when the capillaries linking veins and arteries in the lungs were discovered.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.