Giorgio Baglivi, Groundbreaking Anatomist

Giorgio Baglivi, Groundbreaking Anatomist

"…The two chief Pillars of Physick [i.e. medicine] are Reason and Observation: But Observation is the Thread to which Reason must point."

Who he was

Giorgio Baglivi was a renowned anatomist and physician in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. 

Baglivi was born Giorgio Armeno in the Republic of Ragusa, part of modern-day Croatia. He took the last name of his adoptive father, Pietro Angelo Baglivi. Taking after Pietro Angelo, a physician, in the course of his education Giorgio chose the profession of medicine and received a medical degree. He was fascinated by anatomy and avidly performed experimental dissections of animals. Upon becoming the assistant to Marcello Malpighi, the era’s most renowned anatomist, he continued exploratory dissections of animals and corpses. 

During his research, Baglivi came to reject the unthinking devotion of many physicians of his time to systems and procedures that had not been tested. He insisted on using observation and reason as the means to establish knowledge and procedure, invoking a soon-to-be widespread principle of the nascent Enlightenment. 

When Malpighi was called to Rome to serve as the physician to Pope Innocent XII, Baglivi followed him and effectively became the Pope’s second physician. After his mentor’s death and the death of the Pope, Baglivi was given a position at court by the new pope, Clement XI, and was appointed professor of theoretical medicine at Sapienza University in Rome.

Interesting fact

The entry on Giogio Baglivi in the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica referred to him as “an illustrious Italian physician.”

Learn more about him

Giorgio Baglivi - Encyclopedia.com

Giorgio Baglivi - Treccani Italian Encyclopedia