Detail of title page of Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire image.

Detail of title page of Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire image.

Detail map of Innenstadt I, Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany Overview map of Innenstadt I, Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany

A: Innenstadt I, Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany

William Harvey Publishes His Discovery and Experimental Proof of the Circulation of the Blood

1628
<p>Detail from plate 1 of <em>Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus</em>.&nbsp; Please click on link below to view and resize entire image.</p>

Detail from plate 1 of Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire image.

Wlliam Harvey's Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus was published in Frankfurt in 1628. In this work Harvey presented the discovery and experimental proof of the circulation of the blood. Since antiquity, ideas about the physiology and pathology of most parts of the body had been based to an important degree on assumptions made about the function of the heart and blood vessels. In fundamentally changing the conception of these functions, Harvey pointed the way to reform of all of physiology and medicine.

Why Harvey chose a European publisher for his book has long provoked speculation— the most plausible conjecture is that Harvey wanted his book published on the Continent so that it would more easily gain international distribution and acceptance. His choice of the Frankfurt publisher William Fitzer seems to have arisen from his long acquaintance with Robert Fludd, whose books were then being published by Fitzer.

The physical distance between Harvey and his publisher seems to have precluded Harvey from correcting proofs, as he was compelled to issue an errata leaf with no less than 126 corrections. Since very few copies of De motu cordis include this errata leaf, it has been argued that it was probably added after a large portion of the edition had already been sold. Even so, Harvey's errata list must have been compiled with some haste, as the Latin text edited by Akenside for the College of Physicians in 1766 contains 246 emendations. Fitzer had Harvey's book printed on paper of poor quality, which has deteriorated in virtually all surviving copies. The first edition must have been relatively small since only about 68 copies have survived, nearly all in institutions.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, (1991) no. 1006.

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