V is for Venesection

Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, Basel: ex. off. J. Oporini, 1543, p. 150, initial V, 3.7 x 3.7 cm, N*.1.2(A).

V here stands for venesection, or blood-letting, the most common therapeutic measure known in this period and supervised closely by physicians. The initial shows a seated patient clutching a stick while an incision is made on his arm.

The initial Q below shows a dissection of a dog. Dogs were often used for dissection when human cadavers were not available; they were also used for vivisections.