[Vicq d'Azyr and the French Revolution].

Histoire des sciences médicales 07/2001; 35(3):263-70.
Source: PubMed


Born in April 23th, 1748, at Valognes, in Normandy, Félix Vicq d'Azyr was at once a great doctor, a talented naturalist and a distinguished man of letters. Member of the "Académie des sciences" in 1774, he founded, in 1776, the "Société royale de médecine" in Paris, future "Académie", whose he was the permanent secretary. He is the originator of the comparative anatomy. The successor to Buffon at the "Académie française" in 1788, he became Principal Doctor to the Queen Marie-Antoinette in 1789. From that time, his aristocratic tendencies drew revolutionary court's attention to him. Already sick, summary executions of his friends terrified him. He escaped Guillotine, but tuberculosis killed him, on June the 20th, 1794. He left a great work, especially in anatomy and physiology, and a lot of historical eulogies.

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    ABSTRACT: Félix Vicq d'Azyr was born in 1748 in the small town of Valognes, Normandy. He studied medicine in Paris but he was particularly impressed by the lectures given at the Jardin du Roi by the comparative anatomist Louis Daubenton and the surgeon Antoine Petit. In 1773, Vicq d'Azyr initiated a series of successful lectures on human and animal anatomy at the Paris Medical School, from which he received his medical degree in 1774. He was elected the same year at the Academy of Sciences at age 26, thanks to his outstanding contributions to comparative anatomy. Vicq d'Azyr became widely known after his successful management of a severe cattle plague that occurred in the southern part of France in 1774, an event that led to the foundation of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1778. As Permanent Secretary of this society, Vicq d'Azyr wrote several eulogies that were models of eloquence and erudition and worth him a seat at the French Academy in 1788. Vicq d'Azyr published in 1786 a remarkable anatomy and physiology treatise: a large in-folio that contained original descriptions illustrated by means of nature-sized, colored, human brain figures of a quality and exactitude never attained before. In 1789, Vicq d'Azyr was appointed physician to the Queen Marie-Antoinette and, in 1790, he presented to the Constituent Assembly a decisive plan to reform the teaching of medicine in France. Unfortunately, Vicq d'Azyr did not survive the turmoil of the French Revolution; he died at age 46 on June 20, 1794.
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