The whole matter, however, resolves itself into the simple question, “Was dissection prevented and anatomical investigation hampered after the issuance of the bull?” This is entirely a question of fact. The history of anatomy will show whether dissection ceased or not at this time…Within twenty years after the bull was issued dissection was practiced to such an extent, that body-snatching became so common that there were prosecutions for it, and public dissections seem to have been held every year in the universities of Italy during most of the fourteenth century…

At the Italian universities after the middle of the fourteenth century there is abundant evidence for perfect freedom with regard to dissection. We have already shown by our quotation from Roth that Bertrucci was very active in dissection work and did many public dissections. He was followed by Pietro di Argelata, who died toward the end of the fourteenth century. These men followed Mondino in the chair of anatomy at Bologna, and Julius Pagel, in his chapter on Anatomy and Physiology in Puschmann’s Handbuch der Geschichte der Medizin (Vol. I., p. 707), says that “the successors of Mondino were in a position, owing to the gradual enlightenment of the spirit of the time and the general realization of the importance of anatomy as well as the fostering liberality of the authorities, to make regular, systematic dissections of the human body.”

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


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