Grave robbing

Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, Basel: ex. off. J. Oporini, 1543, p. 169, initial I, woodcut 7.3 x 7.3 cm, N*.1.2(A).

The large initial I shows some putti robbing a grave. Vesalius urged students to find as many opportunities as possible to dissect a human cadaver, and he described his own escapades of stealing bodies from churchyards and gallows. The practice of raiding cemeteries seems to have become quite common, as Felix Platter (1536-1614) also recounts it while he was a student at Montpellier.