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'De Motu Cordis', by William Harvey, Frankfurt, Germany, 1628

William Harvey (1578-1657), an English physician, was the first person to accurately describe the circulation of blood pumped by the heart. This was one of the most important anatomical discoveries of the Renaissance. These famous illustrations – the only ones in the book – show experiments made on the veins to prove the presence of valves that permit blood flow in one direction only. Most traditional views about blood and its circulation, prior to this time, originated with Galen, who had believed that blood was produced in the liver. The full title of the work was Exerciatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus, which translates from Latin as An Anatomical Essay Concerning the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals. It was first published in Frankfurt in 1628. This copy is bound with a critical assessment of Harvey’s work.

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Glossary: book

A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers. Usually continuous printing or writing.

Glossary: circulation

The system of movement of the blood through the heart and blood vessels around the body.