Jacopo Berengario was born in Carpi, a medieval city close to Modena (northern Italy), circa 1460. He studied medicine at Bologna University and, in 1489, graduated in philosophy and medicine. He was appointed lecturer in anatomy and surgery at the same university, a position that he maintained for 24 years. Between 1514 and 1523, Berengario published some important anatomic and surgical works, which gave considerable fame to him.
Commentaria… supra Anatomiam Mundini (Commentary… on the Anatomy of Mondino), published in 1521, constitutes the first example of an illustrated anatomic textbook ever printed. The anatomic illustrations were intended for explaining the text. Artistically speaking, the plates are typical examples of the Renaissance period and worthy of the greatest consideration.
De Fractura Calvae sive Cranei (On Fracture of the Calvaria or Cranium), published in Bologna in 1518, is the first treatise devoted to head injuries ever printed. It is a landmark in the development of cranial surgery that went through numerous editions. The text was prepared in 2 months and dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, who experienced a skull injury in the occipital region. Berengario wanted to demonstrate to other physicians his knowledge of anatomy and his expertise on the brain and head traumas. The book includes the illustration of an entire surgical kit or a corpus instrumentorum for performing cranial operations, which appeared for the first time in a printed book. However, Berengario's highly commendable aim was to indicate to the reader the step-by-step procedure of craniotomy for management of skull fractures along with the sequential use of the previously presented instruments.