Jacopo Berengario da Carpi (also known as Jacobus Berengarius Carpensis, Jacopo Barigazzi, Giacomo Berengario da Carpi or simply Carpus; c. 1460 – c. 1530) was an Italian physician. His book "''Isagoge breves''" published in 1522 made him the most important
anatomist Anatomy () is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science that deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its ...
Andreas Vesalius Andreas Vesalius (Latinized from Andries van Wezel) () was a 16th-century anatomist, physician, and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, ''De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem'' (''On the fabric of the human body'' '' ...

Early years

Jacopo Berengario da Carpi was the son of a
surgeon In modern medicine, a surgeon is a medical professional who performs surgery. Although there are different traditions in different times and places, a modern surgeon usually is also a licensed physician or received the same medical training ...
. As a youth he assisted his father in surgical work, and his surgical skills became the basis of his later work as a
physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner ( Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a health professional who practices medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring health through t ...
. In his late teens, through the association of his family with Lionello Pio, Berengario came under the tutelage of the great humanist printer, Aldo Manuzio who came to Carpi to tutor
Alberto III Pio, Prince of Carpi Alberto III Pio, Prince of Carpi (23 July 1475 – 1531), was an Italian Renaissance prince. He cultivated interest in humanism and was an intimate of the Medici popes. Born at Carpi in 1475, only two years before the death of his father, he h ...
and apparently included Berengario in his instruction. In the 1480s, Berengario attended university in
Bologna Bologna (, , ; egl, label= Emilian, Bulåggna ; lat, Bononia) is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy with about 400,000 inhabitants and 150 different nat ...
receiving his degree in medicine in 1489.

Fame through mercury cure for syphilis

After obtaining his degree, Berengario returned to his father and assisted him with his surgery practice for a short time, but the influx of the " French disease" in 1494 provided Berengario with a chance to advance his career as a physician. Traveling to
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption ...
, he treated several patients who suffered from the ailment. Judging by an admittedly one-sided account, his work in Rome was a mix of financial success and medical failure. As quoted in
Lind Lind is a surname of both Swedish and Estonian origin. In Swedish, it is the word for the linden tree. In Estonian, it is the word for bird. Geographical distribution As of 2014, 36.1% of all known bearers of the surname ''Lind'' were resid ...
's introduction to the ''
Isagoge The ''Isagoge'' ( el, Εἰσαγωγή, ''Eisagōgḗ''; ) or "Introduction" to Aristotle's "Categories", written by Porphyry in Greek and translated into Latin by Boethius, was the standard textbook on logic for at least a millennium after his ...
'', Benvenuto Cellini provided a scathing account of Berengario's practice of treating
syphilis Syphilis () is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium ''Treponema pallidum'' subspecies ''pallidum''. The signs and symptoms of syphilis vary depending in which of the four stages it presents (primary, secondary, latent, and ...
with doses of mercury while charging "hundreds of crowns" paid in advance. Berengario apparently developed enough of a reputation that the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, 'father'), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome), head of the worldwide Cathol ...
invited him into his service, but he turned down the offer and left Rome shortly thereafter.

Anatomy in Bologna

Shortly after his work in Rome, he was appointed Maestro nello Studio at Bologna, a university whose faculty were only rarely foreign and then only when they were scholars of considerable reputations. Berengario’s reputation and personal connections with powerful patrons were indeed quite strong. In 1504, the Pope granted him Bolognese citizenship, and he was asked to treat distinguished patients on several occasions including Alessandro Soderini (relative of a
Cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Animals * Cardinal (bird) or Cardinalidae, a family of North and South American birds **'' Cardinalis'', genus of cardinal in the family Cardinalidae **'' Cardinalis cardinalis'', or northern cardinal, ...
and part of the Medici family) in 1513 and
Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici (; 12 September 1492 – 4 May 1519) was the ruler of Florence from 1516 until his death in 1519. He was also Duke of Urbino during the same period. His daughter Catherine de' Medici became Queen Consort of Franc ...
in 1517. Along with his reputation, Berengario increased his wealth becoming a collector of a variety of artworks including a Roman statue, a painting attributed to
Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael (; or ; March 28 or April 6, 1483April 6, 1520), was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual ...
and a pair of vases by
Cellini Benvenuto Cellini (, ; 3 November 150013 February 1571) was an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, and author. His best-known extant works include the '' Cellini Salt Cellar'', the sculpture of '' Perseus with the Head of Medusa'', and his autobiograp ...
and eventually a house large enough to hold them all. By all accounts, Berengario was both a popular teacher and an accomplished cultivator of powerful friends. Official university records indicate his success as a teacher over one of his colleagues. He was adept enough at diplomacy to be made court surgeon to the Duke of Ferrara in 1529 after leaving Bologna despite having been condemned to pay a fine or have his nose cut off in 1500 for speaking insultingly of that ducal court. Berengario’s personality is commonly characterized by citing his tendency to violent confrontation. In 1511, he attacked and robbed a stipendiary of the Pope. Also in 1511, he attacked a doctor who sought refuge in a nearby house. The wife of the owner of the house was injured in the process. In 1520, for reasons not quite clear, Berengario along with an entourage attacked the home of Zambelli Petenghi with the intention of taking possession of it and killing its owner. Unable to gain entry, he was forced to content himself with doing damage to the house instead. Apparently due to his personal connections, he remained unpunished for any of his misdeeds.


Berengario’s publishing record began in 1514 with an edition of Mondino. In 1518 he published his De fractura cranei and in 1521 his Commentary on Mondino. The Commentary was then supplemented by the Isagogae Breves in 1522 which was a greatly condensed version of the same work “for the common use of all good men”. Berengario made several important advances in
anatomy Anatomy () is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science that deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its ...
including the first anatomical text augmented by illustrations, "''Anatomia Carpi. Isagoge breves perlucide ac uberime, in Anatomiam humani corporis''". This book emphasized the sensory over textual versions of the truth, an emphasis on
dissection Dissection (from Latin ' "to cut to pieces"; also called anatomization) is the dismembering of the body of a deceased animal or plant to study its anatomical structure. Autopsy is used in pathology and forensic medicine to determine the cause o ...
of human cadavers, some first denials of Galenic anatomy based on personal experience in dissection, and a preference for dissection of numerous bodies following a specific program of investigation. Whereas other anatomists claimed few actual dissections to their name, in 1522 Berengario da Carpi claimed to have anatomized several hundred bodies. He also denied the existence of Galen's rete mirabile. Later
Vesalius Andreas Vesalius (Latinized from Andries van Wezel) () was a 16th-century anatomist, physician, and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, '' De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem'' (''On the fabric of the human body'' ...
claimed ''he'' was the first to do so.


* * *



* *De Santo, N.G.; Touwaide, A., et al. "Berengario da Carpi." ''American Journal of Nephrology.'' 1999;19(2):199-212. *Merlini L, Tomba P, Vigano A. "Berengario da Carpi, a pioneer in anatomy, rediscovered by Vittorio Putti." ''Neuromuscular Disorders.'' 2003 Jun; 13(5):421-5. *''Morton's Medical Bibliography (Garrison and Morton).'' Ed. By Jeremy Norman. Fifth ed. Aldershot, Hants, England : Scolar Press; Brookfield, Vt., USA : Gower Pub. Co., 1991. Nos. 367 and 368. *L.R. Lind Studies in Pre-Vesalian Anatomy. Biography, translations, documents. The American Philosophical Society, 1975 *Putti, Berengario da Carpi, Saggio Biografico e Bibliografico Seguito dalla Traduzione del “De Fractura Calvae Sive Cranei”, L. Capelli, Bologna, 1937 *L.R. Lind (trans), “Berengario da Carpi on Fracture of the Skull or Cranium”, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 80(4), 1990

External links

Jacopo Berengario da Carpi: Isagogae breues, perlucidae ac uberrimae, in anatomiam humani corporis a communi medicorum academia usitatam (Bologna, 1523)
Selected pages scanned from the original work. Historical Anatomies on the Web. US National Library of Medicine.
Some places and memories related to Jacopo Berengario
Selected images from ''Isagogae breves''
From The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library {{DEFAULTSORT:Berengario da Carpi, Jacopo 1460 births 1530 deaths 16th-century Italian physicians Italian anatomists People from Carpi, Emilia-Romagna History of anatomy