The legacy of Václav Trnka: modern medical education in Slovakia and Hungary in the eighteenth century

David Kachlik, I. Varga, Andrea D. Székely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


A fresh start of higher medical education in Slovakia and Hungary is closely related to Trnava (Nagyszombat). The University of Trnava had originally been established in 1635 but the Faculty of Medicine was added only later, in 1769, when the name of the university was also changed to Royal Hungarian University of Sciences. A fresh graduate, Václav Trnka from Křovice (1739–1791), was appointed as head of the Department of Anatomy. He was not only an anatomist, but a real polymath of the second half of the eighteenth century practicing medicine as well as becoming the Dean, then the Rector of the University. He has lived and acted within several countries of Central Europe, or rather, the Austrio-Hungarian monarchy during the reign of Empress Maria Theresia, then her son Joseph II. Born in Bohemia (now Czech Republic), studied and graduated in Austria, then finally was appointed as the first Professor of Anatomy of a newly established medical faculty in Upper Hungary (now Slovakia). In 1777, the university was moved first to Buda, then to Pest (now parts of the capital of Hungary), and the Faculty of Medicine was not separated from the rest of the faculties before the end of the Second World War. Following several institutional and name changes, this Medical Faculty is considered as the foundation of the present Semmelweis University. Trnka was a proliferous author, publishing more than 20 monographs covering various branches of clinical medicine, however, no anatomical work may be connected to his activity. And as a typical intellectual of the era, he was a keen and talented musician composing several canons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1116
Number of pages4
JournalSurgical and Radiologic Anatomy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Anatomy education
  • History of anatomy
  • Royal university of Buda and Pest
  • Trnka Venczel
  • Václav Trnka z Křovic
  • Wenzel Trnka from Krzowitz

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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