Vesalius established the modern study of anatomy in
a massive folio volume, Harvey the modern science of physiology in this deceptively brief Anatomical Treatise on the Movement of
the Heart and Blood in Animals. Before the work of William Harvey
(1578-1657), physiologists followed the teachings of the Greek physician
Galen (ca. AD 130-201); they knew that blood was not a stationary fluid,
but it was usually assumed that it acted as a sort of drip-irrigation
system for the body.
A member of the Royal College of Physicians in London, and later, physician
to kings James I and Charles I, Harvey becamed convinced after
years of dissection and physiological experimentation on cats, dogs,
pigs, shrimp, flies, and evan an ostrich that the blood is in
constant motion and pumped by the heart. Here, for the first time, the
circulation of the blood was demonstrated, and its itinerary, from lungs
to heart to body, clearly charted. Brief, well argued, and clearly written, De motu cordis is very probably the one and only great classic of Western
science written before 1800 that is still widely read today.
The original book imaged for this digital edition:
7 1/4 x 5 7/8 inches (184 x 150 mm)
After proving that the motion of the heart caused blood to circulate through the body, William Harvey extended this logic to other matters of the heart. In his 1628 De motu cordis, Harvey argued that if any of the passions, such as grief, love, or anxiety, was strong enough to get access to the heart, it would afflict the entire body. Find out more about Harvey’s landmark study and have a look at the Octavo Edition of De Motu Cordis.
William Harvey was the first to prove, through a series of scientific experiments published in 1628, that veins and arteries are part of the same circulatory system. For 1500 years before his discoveries, scientists thought veins and arteries were two distinct systems that were essentially unrelated. Learn more about Harvey’s classic experiments and have a look at the Octavo Edition of De Motu Cordis.
Although humble in appearance, William Harvey’s field-changing work on the circulation of blood, Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus (Anatomical Treatise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, 1628), attracted readers of very high social standing throughout the early twentieth century. The copy of Harvey’s book reproduced by Octavo, for example, was owned by the Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich (1859-1919), a grandson of the Tsar Nicholas I. The Grand Duke was himself not only something of a historian but something of a scientist, publishing several books in both disciplines and holding high office in the Russian societies devoted to each. In history, he favored the study of genealogy and the biography of the ruling class; in his chosen science – entomology – he pursued only the most glamorous insects, the most impressive when pinned: the lepidoptera. His Memoires sur les Lepidopteres appeared in nine volumes between 1884 and 1901, under the name “N. M. Romanoff.” Nikolai Mikhailovich was murdered in St. Petersburg in 1919, and along with the rest of the imperial family, more or less vanished from Soviet history. His bookplate has been lost to rebinding.