"He described himself as a man of skill in all Christian modes of physical science"

Scientific understanding accelerated rapidly following the onset of the Scientific Revolution. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) had described the heliocentric universe; Andreas Vesalius (1514-64) had produced his ground-breaking work on human anatomy; Ambroise Paré (1510-90) pioneered surgery; and Michael Servetus (1509/11-53) described pulmonary circulation. Despite this, incursions into the field of medicine were minor: belief in the four humors prevailed and diseases were usually treated by bloodletting. Plant medicines were also used, though with opium among the most popular, the remedy could sometimes be more damaging than the disease.

One of only three known photographs of bloodletting in existence (1860)
Public DomainOne of only three known photographs of bloodletting in existence (1860) - Credit: Burns Archive
Raw opium
Public DomainRaw opium - Credit: Erik Fenderson