Monday, August 23, 2010

Renaissance Overviews

Zophy, Jonathan W. 2009. A short history of Renaissance and Reformation Europe: dances over fire and water. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall. Ex Libris.

Holmes, George. 1996. Renaissance. 1st U.S. ed. New York: St. Martin's Press. Ex Libris. Review.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bibliographies Summary

Renaissance Overviews

Renaissance Primary Sources

Specific Renaissance Topics
Gender and Women
Science and Technology

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Renaissance Primary Sources - Bibliography

 Borgia, Lucrezia, and Pietro Bembo. 1987. The prettiest love letters in the world: letters between Lucrezia Borgia & Pietro Bembo, 1503 to 1519. Translated by H. Shankland. Boston: David R. Godine. Ex Libris.

Freedberg. 2002. The Eye of the Lynx

Freedberg, David. 2002. The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. xii+513. $50/$30

The Eye of the Lynx is primarily about the research into natural history carried out by the members of the Accademia dei Lincei. The Academy was founded in 1603 by a young Roman nobleman, Federico Cesi (1585-1630), the prince of Aqauasparta. Galileo was the group’s sixth member. Often called the first modern scientific academy, it preceded the Accademia del Cimento in Florence, the Royal Society in Britain, and the Académie des sciences in France. The book tells the story of the Linceans’ attempt to observe, collect, classify, and disseminate terrestrial nature. Cast as an account of the origins of ‘modern’ natural history, Freedberg retells the history of Galileo as the story of a star among a collaborative and supportive scientific community of scholars.
            The primary evidence for the book comes from several large collections of natural history drawings. In 1986, Freedberg discovered hundreds of drawings in ‘a cupboard’ in Windsor Castle. A search into their origin developed into a much larger research project. It turned out that they were originally commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo, a Roman antiquarian and collector, for his museo cartaceo or ‘paper museum.’ Others Lincean pictures in turn were found in the British Museum, Montpellier medical school library, and the Institut de France in Paris. Much of the evidence Freedberg draws upon is unpublished and will be new to scholars of natural history and to historians of science. Many of the Lincean pictures and documents have only become available since the 1980s. Altogether, Freedberg examined over 6,000 drawings of nature, some loose, some bound together. Taken as a whole they are an attempt to visually document and classify all of nature in the Old World and New. Up to that point in time, the only other collection of illustrations of similar size was the encyclopedic documentation of nature by the Bolognese doctor Ulisse Aldrovandi. Most of these pictures, Freedberg claims, have never previously been studied or even photographed. Among the most important are a large number of the first drawings ever made with the aid of a microscope including the very first botanical illustration made this way: the seed of a Chinese rose (Hibiscus mutabilis L.) by Cornelis Bloemaert. The scroll in Latin beneath the seeds reveals its origins: “the same seed presented in threefold view beneath a microscope.” This illustration gives some idea of how the Linceans used visual images as part of their natural history research program and hints at their larger interest in reproduction and generation. The seed is carefully and realistically rendered with great care and attention to detail. It is presented from the front, side, and back to give as complete as possible visual account.
            This book crosses disciplinary boundaries. As Freedberg is a professor of art history at Columbia University, understandably, it draws most heavily upon art history; yet it also crosses over into the history of science, and the history of the book. One of the most appealing features of the book is its abundance of pictures. To grasp the essence of what they were doing, it was helpful to have so many of the Lincean drawings included—and many are skillfully rendered and delightful to view. This is not to suggest that the illustrations are merely decorative. It could be said that Freedberg is in his own right a generous curator and helpful docent for what is a kind of modern museo cartaceo. The role of the visual in the study of nature is in fact one of the principal themes of the book. Freedberg reaches some interesting conclusions about the role of observation in sixteenth-century science. The Linceans put a strong emphasis on observation and start out believing in the usefulness of illustrations in the study of nature. In the end, however, he argues they came to see the limits of vision as a reliable guide to knowledge. Sight was essential but not sufficient for good science. Our senses, Cesi concluded, cannot reveal the essence of things.

Cornelis Bloemaert, seed of a Chinese rose (Hibiscus mutabilis L.) seen under a microscope. Engraving, Ferrari, De Florum Cultura, p. 499.

            Additionally Freedberg addresses the interrelated concerns of the Linceans with the use of illustrations and the problem of classification. Cesi was committed to using pictures in his investigation of nature. A tension existed, however, between Cesi’s desire to record everything as a picture and the desire for order. Pictures conveyed texture, color, irregularity, and anomaly better than what was regular and essential in nature. Freedberg argues that recording and describing was in a kind of fundamental tension with reducing and classifying. Illustrations of the surface of things eventually gave way to finding the essence of things by counting and by geometrical abstraction. Freedberg traces the move from a belief in the importance of pictures for knowledge of the world—which the Linceans shared with earlier men such as Aldrovandi and Gesner—to an increasing reliance on geometry and mathematics. As in so much else, Galileo was an inspiration and model for the Linceans.  One of Freedberg’s central arguments is that the descriptive and synthetic aspects of picture making stood at odds with the need for order and analysis. The old Aristotelian notion of difference as a means of distinguishing between species was not proving helpful. Freedberg adopts Foucault’s argument that difference and identity replaced similitude and resemblance as the primary ways to classify and order the world. According to this theory, the doctrine of similitude was the leading episteme of pre-classical science. (For example, a walnut being good for curing head ailments since its kernel is similar to the brain.) Perhaps overstating his case, Freedberg, see Cesi’s work as making an epistemological rupture with its sixteenth-century predecessors akin to the “geometrization of the world” by Galileo’s physics. (p. 4) “Cesi began to move away from reliance on similitude and resemblance, in the direction of number and geometry…. In this way, he was stimulated by his awareness that the geometrical diagram, more abstract that pictures, could tell one more about the essential aspects of things than pictures ever could.” (p. 385) The microscope offered the possibility to group species on the basis of their inner constitution rather than on surfaces and outer appearance. Influenced by Galileo’s example. Cesi and fellow Linceans tried to reduce the variety and complexity of the natural world to “structure, order, and number.” (p. 181)  To substantiate this ‘rupture’ Freedberg places Cesi and Linceans on linear continuum toward ‘modern science.’ He also frames the story as a straightforward opposition between the empirical study of nature (the future) and the literary attachment to authoritative texts (the past). While both Galileo and Cesi rejected Aristotle, I would argue that this approach downplays their attachment to Plato, Pythagoras and other classical authorities.
            In addition to observation, illustration, classification—and a concern with Foucauldian epistemes—Freedberg tackles the theme of patronage. The Lincean’s paid homage to Maffeo Barberini, Pope Urban VIII with three of their publications: Melissographia, Apes Dianiae, and Apiarium. Melissographia apparently was the first printed illustration to be made with the aid of the microscope. (p. 162) It is a large engraved sheet measuring 41.6 by 30.7 cm—about as large as copper sheets came at that time—celebrating the chief Barberini emblem, three bees. It also shows two putti hold aloft the papal tiara and the keys of St. Peter. Most importantly and originally it shows these three bees greatly magnified and illustrated with realistic detail. The illustration reveals details the naked eye cannot see. Like the seed of the Chinese rose, the bees are carefully arranged to show a top, bottom and side view. Melissographia also illustrates several bee body parts: a head, antennae, proboscis, eyes, stinger, mouth parts, and a pair of posterior legs. This illustration is meant to serve as a testament to the keen gaze of the Linceans and show that the Barberini and the bee were “worthy of wonder.” [1] It is a good example of the promise and the limits of their research program.

Johann Friedrich Greuter, Melissographia (1625). Engraved broadsheet showing trigon of bees under magnification, with details of microscopic examination of the bee.

            For Galileo scholars, chapters 4 and 5 are likely to be the most interesting as they lay out the roles played by Cesi and the Academy of Linceans in the Galileo controversy. Freedberg covers Galileo in the years between the Starry Messenger (1610) and the Assyaer (1624). This account sheds some light on the intellectual community of which he was a part: Galileo appears less as a genius standing alone against the institutional church and as more of a star among a loose-knit and potentially subversive group of brilliant scholars. Galileo joined the Academy in 1611, and Freedberg does a convincing job of showing how from that point forward the Linceans did much to support Galileo in all his endeavors. For instance, Cesi played a crucial role in Galileo’s trip to Rome in 1611. “The young prince accompanied Galileo at every step of the way, was present at almost every important occasion, and helped him devise the strategy, sometimes successful and sometimes a failure, by which he presented his discoveries. It was he, more than anyone else,” Freedberg writes, “who stood alongside Galileo together as they fired the opening salvos of their pro-Copernican and anti-Aristotelian campaign.” (pp. 107-8) As is well known, The Linceans played a central role in some of his publications. Freedberg relates the important history of the editing and publication of Galileo’s books in great detail. Much of this will also be interesting and new to historians of the book. The Linceans believed in Galileo’s work and supported him when and where they could. They also helped disseminate Galileo’s ideas, and Cesi and others attempted to protect Galileo’s reputation in Rome. Freedberg documents these efforts convincingly but is largely silent on how effective or influential they were. For instance, as early as 1612 Cesi accepted Kepler’s elliptical orbits and wrote to Galileo urging him to do the same. Galileo at this time was still cautious about renouncing Ptolemaic epicyclic and eccentric orbits. Cesi’s also attempts to persuade Galileo to be cautions in Rome—warning him not to directly confront the philosophers and theologians of the Collegio Romano. If Cesi were more influential in this regard, of course, it would have been to Galileo’s benefit. Ironically, however, Freedberg’s careful reconstruction of Cesi’s warnings and his astronomical advice shows Cesi’s lack of effective influence as much as it supports Freedberg’s case for seeing the Academy’s as an important part of the Galileo story.     
            For readers primarily interested in natural history, the book offers up several tantalizing ‘discoveries.’ Chapter 6 outlines the Linceans’ “pathfinding and as yet largely unknown” use of the microscope. (p. xi) Freedberg claims that analogous to Galileo’s discoveries of astronomical nature using the telescope, Cesi and the Lynceans were the first to systematically use the microscope to observe and record terrestrial nature. “The telescope had helped Galileo discover not just how new stars were born, but also stars that could otherwise not be seen; now the microscope was helping Cesi and his friends discover things hitherto unseen on earth and resolve the problems of how they were generated.” (p. 232) Another ‘first’ comes with the Lyncean investigations into fungi, lichens, mosses and other exotic plants. ‘Modern mycology,’ Freedberg claims, begins with the researches illustrated in the Lyncean volumes in the Institut de France, and his discoveries in the Paris volumes means that the history of mycology and “other critical botanical issues” has to be rewritten. (p. 226)
            Arguably more pathbreaking than rewriting the history of mycology—as interesting to some specialists as that may be—is Freedberg’s revisionist attempts to show that the Linceans, who he argues have been misunderstood by modern scholars, represented an important Foucauldian ‘epistemic rupture’ with the science of the past. Their importance lay with their break from predecessors by their recognition of the importance of classification based on reproduction, dissection, and examination by microscope. This would put the Linceans’ natural history research into the main story of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century alongside (and equal to) the advances in astronomy, physics and mathematics associated with Galileo. This larger claims is less convincing and less likely to succeed than his more modest claim that “the achievements of Federico Cesi are still far from having received their due.” This book will certainly help rectify Cesi’s neglect. (p. 66)
            Overall this is an excellent and seemingly important study with several ‘discoveries’ and insights that should interest art historians, historians of science, and historians of the book. Freedberg has read widely and done original and extensive primary research for his study. I suspect his knowledge of astronomy is limited, however, as he naively claimed that Copernicus had only proposed the heliocentric system as a hypothesis. (p 85) Perhaps, like many others, he did not read beyond the introduction to De Revolutionibus—or did not read it at all: the book does not even appear in the bibliography. As if to make them more ‘modern’ than they were, we are told that the Academy appeals to ‘experiment’ rather than the authority of antiquity, but are not given substantial evidence of experiments they conducted. My main criticism of the book though is not with its factual errors but with the larger vision of the history of science that frames the study. While Foucault is invoked at the start of the book, it is never made clear what Freedberg’s philosophy of science is. Without further explanation or support, we are told Galileo separated physics from metaphysics. This claim is interesting but does not seem to me at least to be self-evident. Equally mystifying (and equally unsupported) is the assertion that Urban VIII must have seen Cesi’s theories as undermining the Church. His own evidence suggests that Cesi’s research supported the Church, or at least by linking the Barberini to the wonder of nature, added to their prestige. The book repeatedly evaluates the Linceans along a continuum leading to modern science therefore they are described as “forward-thinking” (p. 105) and their contemporary historical impact is less important than their precedence in historical discovery. Their portrayal as breaking a Medieval attitude bound to ‘authority and tradition’ is unconvincing. This larger philosophical framework, however, does not detract significantly from the new historical insights that are well grounded on a huge collection of fascinating visual materials.

[1] The engraving in Latin says “O great Parent of Things, to whom Nature willingly submits itself, behold the BEE in the BARBERINI escutcheon. NATURE has nothing more remarkable than this. Surveying it with a keener gaze, the work of the Linceans has set it forth in these pictures, and explained it. The genius of the Cesi family has stimulated this sacred labor; the art of Pallas has aided these willing men. Great miracles have emerged as a result of their work with the polished glass, and the eye has learned to have greater faith. Had it not been for the divine discoveries of the new art, who would have known that there are five tounges on the Hyblean body [i.e. the bee’s], that the neck is similar to a lion’s mane, that the eyes are hirsute, and that there are two sheaths on each mandible? Thus it is fitting that while the world looks up to you in wonder, your BEE shows itself even more worthy of wonder.” (p. 162)

Renaissance Science - Bibliography


Eamon, William. 2006. The Scientific Renaissance. In A companion to the worlds of the Renaissance, edited by G. Ruggiero. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Finocchiaro, Maurice A. 2005. Retrying Galileo, 1633-1992. Berkeley: University of California Press. Review.


Butterfield, Herbert. 1965. The origins of modern science: 1300-1800. rev. ed. New York: Free Press. Original edition, G. Bell & Sons, 1957. Ex Libris.

Hall, Marie Boas. 1994. The Scientific Renaissance 1450-1630. New York: Dover. Original edition, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962. Ex Libris. Review.


Freedberg, David. 2002. The eye of the lynx: Galileo, his friends, and the beginnings of modern natural history. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ex Libris. Review.

Edgerton, Samuel Y. 1991. The heritage of Giotto's geometry: art and science on the eve of the scientific revolution. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Finocchiaro. 2005. Retrying Galileo

Finocchiaro, Maurice A. 2005. Retrying Galileo: 1633-1992. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Twenty-six years ago, in 1980, Finocchiaro published Galileo and the Art of Reasoning, a work on logic and scientific methodology. This book appeared at the same time as the Vatican announced that a papal commission was being appointed to look into the Galileo affair. This new look at Galileo by the Catholic Church prompted Finocchiaro to become more interested in the historical dimension of Galileo, and he turned from his more narrowly philosophical interests to study the history of the trial. First, Finocchiaro set out to learn about the trial and master the relevant primary documents. This preparatory work was published in 1989 as The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History. Next, to relate the Dialogue to the trial, he published a careful scholarly translation of it entitled Galileo on the World Systems: A New Abridged Translation and Guide (1997). The next step for Finocchiaro was to study what had already been written about the Galileo affair. He undertook this research in order to understanding the limitations and to grasp any insights of past approaches. Retrying Galileo is the result of this extensive ‘preparatory’ research. It is the latest part of Finocchiaro’s long-standing systematic research project into the Galileo affair that began in 1980. Looking back over the research project so far, one gets the impression that Finocchiaro is systematic, and patient. The next and final step of his ambitious research program will be to write a critical account of the trial.
         In 1633, as is well known, the Inquisition condemned Galileo for holding that the earth moves and the Bible is not a scientific authority. Less well know are the long-standing controversies that the 1633 condemnation started. This second Galileo affair "about,” as Finocchiaro puts it, “the facts, causes, issues, and implications of the original trial" continues even today, and not just inside academic circles. Galileo is still a popular and polarizing figure. Retrying Galileo is the first systematic survey of this “subsequent Galileo affair." Finocchiaro describes the book as "a survey of the Galileo affair from the time of his condemnation by the Inquisition in 1633 to his alleged rehabilitation by Pope John Paul II in 1992.” Over three-hundred-and-fifty years is a long span of time, and Retrying Galileo covers an immense amount of material. But it is not intended to be comprehensive, and Finocchiaro has had to be selective—by his estimations, a comprehensive bibliography of primary sources would contain about 2,500 entries. To focus the massive amount of potential secondary material, Finocchiaro narrowly concentrates on the question of “whether, how, and why the condemnation was right or wrong.” This is the key issue running through the book in all its facets: "theological, scientific, philosophical, legal, moral, pastoral, practical, political." For a non-specialist, the range of documents, issues, and time-periods can be overwhelming. For the Galileo scholar, it will undoubtedly contain many new insights and should prove invaluable.
         Retrying Galileo is an unusual book. It is not simply a historiography of the trial taken in the strict sense of a study of past historical scholarship. The aim of the book is to present the primary sources, historical facts, and controversial issues surrounding the aftermath of the Galileo affair. Numerous helpful documents are included, some published in English for the first time. These include Church documents, private letters, and interpretive and critical accounts. Each chapter stresses several primary texts and goes on to analyze the facts and issues that emerge from the sources. For instance, he reprints the lengthy 1757 “Consultant Report” of Jesuit Pietro Lazzari, professor of church history at the Roman College, and commends Lazzari for his “well argued, impressively nuanced, and often insightful” account. At the same time, he takes him to task for focusing merely on the principle of Scriptural accommodation and missing the key point that Galileo makes in the Letter to Christina that propositions capable of being conclusively demonstrated need not be interpreted literally.  Throughout the entire book, Finocchiaro maintains a "threefold concern" with sources, facts, and issues; this distinguishes Retrying Galileo from a more traditional historiographical account of debates between professional historians. Finocchiaro also makes it clear that he is also interested in what philosophers, journalists, playwrights, and many others have written. By charting the impact of Galileo’s trial upon subsequent historical events it is also a work of history. For instance, after learning about what he called the “affair of Galileo,” Descartes withheld publication of his World. The history of the “reception and reaction to Galileo’s condemnation” continually expands as the affair is still far from settled.
         Why study the second Galileo affair? Finocchiaro claims that it has acquired an autonomous existence of its own, and as an object of study the second Galileo affair gives us insights into the interaction between science and religion; the history of a cultural myth. The second Galileo affair raises many of the same issues as the ‘first’ Galileo affair. It is in itself an interesting case study of religion vs. science, individual freedom vs. institutional authority, myth vs. reality. Many scholars have argued over nearly every aspect of the trial. Even the facts themselves have engendered controversy, and today historians still have not achieved consensus about the causes, issues, and implications of the Galileo affair. The original impetus behind the project and the most important reason for a systematic study of the literature on the Galileo affair for Finocchiaro, however, is to provide the basis for a new, better critical history of the affair, avoiding the weaknesses and incorporating the insights of previous accounts. He has undertaken this labor in preparation for his own forthcoming account of the trial, and undoubtedly Retrying Galileo will be immensely helpful for anyone writing about the original Galileo affair. While modern professional Galileo historians are generally aware of what their colleagues have written and, of course, anchor their research in the original documents surrounding Galileo’s trial, the wider “reflective commentary” studied by Finocchiaro has never been systematically examined for what it can tell historians about how to approach the trial.
         The book itself also provides some interesting lessons in historical methodology. Finocchiaro’s general approach is to carefully examine a document and resolve ambiguities in the text that have misled previous interpreters. For instance, he clarifies the question of torture by examining the meaning of the term 'rigorous examination' used by the Inquisition. To resolve its doubts after Galileo's denial of malicious intent, the inquisition conducted what it called a 'rigorous examination.' Subsequent interpreters have claimed this means he was physically tortured, others that he was simply threatened. Finocchiaro builds up a careful, logical argument that conclusively shows 'rigorous examination' means minimally that he underwent an examination under the verbal threat of torture, but does not necessarily imply he was actually tortured. Finocchiaro repeatedly brings analytic clarity and logical rigor to resolve ambiguities in the primary texts, and his careful commentary should prevent many future misinterpretations. In addition to this kind of linguistic clarification, Finocchiaro provides a service to scholars by pointing out areas that have been previously overlooked. For instance, while most attention has focused exclusively on the inquisition condemning Galileo for insisting on the heliocentric and geokinetic doctrines that were declared contrary to Scripture, he was actually convicted of two errors. He was also condemned for believing that it is permissible to defend a doctrine contrary to Scripture. A careful reading of his Abjuration (1633) also shows a commonly overlooked element. Beyond retracting his earlier beliefs and behavior, he was made to “plead guilty to the verdict already announced by the judges and to confess to a transgression not confessed earlier." The conflation of 'heretical' and 'contrary to Scripture' early on is another good example of how easy it was for the general public and historians to become confused. The notion that Galileo’s works were considered heretical was to become one of the most persistent myths in the subsequent controversy. Finocchiaro tackles two other important mistakes in subsequent interpretation: one, almost everyone thought Galileo was condemned for defending Copernicanism and ignored the role that discussing the prescription not to discuss the earth's motion in any way whatever; "Secondly, there was a common tendency to interpret the sentence incorrectly as containing an official declaration that the Copernican doctrine was heretical, not merely contrary to Scripture." The myth of the Copernican heresy is due to this lack of ability to make a fine but important distinction. Drawing upon his philosophical training, Finocchiaro brings an analytic clarity to his judgments uncommon among historians, and he repeatedly points out the variations and inaccuracies that spread along each step, especially with oral information.
         The second Galileo affair began almost immediately after the end of the trial. Officials of the Catholic Church promulgated the news on printed posters and flyers and meetings were held where information about the trial was given to professors of philosophy and mathematics. News also spread privately and in books and newspapers. “By 1651 the educated public of Europe had available the full text of the sentence and adjuration in three languages: French, Italian, and Latin. The material basis had thus been laid for what was to become a key cause célèbre in Western culture." Historians of the book and print culture will be interested in Finocchiaro’s meticulous reconstruction of the spread and diffusion of news about the trial and the often dramatic stories about the
history of church records. It makes an interesting case study, and at times the detective work is entertaining reading.
         One of the most interesting chapters of the book concerns the Napoleonic Wars and Trials. In 1798 a French army occupied Rome, abolished papal government, and established a Roman Republic. In 1810 Napoleon transferred to Paris all Church archives in Rome and started the process of publishing the documents; this brought some new documents to light. In 1814 Napoleon "freed the pope, restored the papal state, and began returning Church records and archives to Rome."
         The best historians generally make a systematic study of the historiography on their topic. Finocchiaro has gone one step further. The book should be interesting to specialists and non-specialists alike. Studying the second Galileo affair to rewrite the first Galileo affair is an fascinating project. Among other things, is makes an interesting case study in historical methodology. However, only the next and final part of Finocchiaro’s research project, his account of the trial, will conclusively prove that he has truly avoided the pitfalls and built upon the solid ground of past commentators.

Hall, Marie Boas. 1994. The Scientific Renaissance 1450-1630

Hall, Marie Boas. 1994. The Scientific Renaissance 1450-1630. New York: Dover, with a new preface by the author. First published New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962 as Volume II in The Rise of Modern Science Series, edited by A. Rupert Hall.

First published in 1962, The Scientific Renaissance 1450—1630 has aged well. The new preface in the 1994 edition says that the book has not been superseded, but correctly acknowledges that revising it would entail entirely rewriting it. The field of Renaissance science has significantly expanded since 1962, yet, still, no new synthesis has replaced Marie Boas Hall’s classic. Its cracks are starting to appear, and reading The Scientific Renaissance today tells us as much about the early days of the history of science as it tells us about the early days of modern science.
            The main argument of the book is that the period from 1450 to 1630 marks a “definite stage in the history of science.” Without denying the importance of the medieval contribution to science, especially in mathematical physics, Hall makes a strong case that the attempt to revive Greco-Roman antiquity in the mid-fifteenth century (the start date for the study) separated Renaissance science from its medieval predecessor. The theories of this early scientific renaissance, Hall's argument continues, were fully realized in practice by 1630, the end date for the study. Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (completed 1630) and Harvey’s De Motu Cordis (published 1628) mark the culmination of this distinct "Renaissance" stage in the history of science and signify a definitive break. Thus as well as being the starting point of the traditional seventeenth-century scientific revolution, Galileo and Harvey are seen as the culmination of an earlier stage in the history of modern science.
            Hall views Renaissance science sympathetically, but always from the vantage point of modern science, which she sees as unified and universal. The majority of the book consists in expositions of the writings and scientific contributions of a vast array of Renaissance scientists: Georg Agricola, Cornelius Agrippa, Ulysee Aldrovandi, Francis Bacon, Cardinal Bellarmine, Giordano Bruno, Jerome Cardan, Andreas Cesalpino, Duke Frederigo Cesi, Copernicus, John Dee, and dozens of more minor figures. Alongside these generally even-handed expositions, Hall frequently interjects her acerbic judgment about the significance of individual scientists and their contribution to knowledge. Regarding della Porta, she remarks: “Porta made a parade of learning, but his interest was really that of the party conjurer who deceives the eye by the quickness of his hand or mind before demonstrating how the thing was done.” (p. 187) Because her primary purpose is to trace how Renaissance investigations led to modern scientific thinking, alchemists, astrologers, magicians, and mystics are depicted alternately as visionaries or blind guides depending upon the outcome of their investigations. Complementing these individual portraits, Hall covers the rise of scientific education and scientific societies: The Accademia dei Lincei in Italy, the Royal Society in England, and the Académie des Sciences in France.
            Among the sciences, pride of place is given to astronomy followed by mathematics and physics. Hall attributes advances in the science of biology to the study of medicine rather than the practice of Renaissance natural history with its dead-end encyclopedic approach and jejune preoccupation with wonders.
            The change in attitude of early scientists toward the ancients helps define and validate the outer bounds of the Scientific Renaissance stage of science. While modern scientists, including Hall, are preoccupied with progress, she admirably demonstrates how fifteenth century scientists were not: “In 1450 the scientist was either a classical scholar or dangerously close to a magician. By 1630 he was either a new kind of learned man or a technical craftsman.” Renaissance scientists saw themselves as humanists reviving Greek scientific texts not revolutionaries or innovators. By the end of this stage, the non-scientist leaves the classically trained university scholar and his literary studies behind—astronomy was no longer comprehensible by the non-specialist. Hall’s over-reliance on dichotomies emerges in her depiction the stage as a transition from bad to good science: the magical tradition gives way to rationalism, number mysticism transforms into number theory, chemistry replaces alchemy, and math free itself from astrology—all this presages things to come: soon experimental science and mechanical philosophy dispel natural magic.
            The Scientific Renaissance stage, according to Hall, ends with the twin triumphs of Galileo over the church and Harvey over Galen. Galileo lost his trial, she writes, but won the bigger debate about natural science being a question of empirical evidence rather than religious belief. Harvey’s modern study of anatomy and physiology built upon and finally surpasses the ancient learning of Galen. The experimental methods drawn from medicine, in turn, freed botany and zoology from their dependence on the authority of antiquity.
            Despite Hall committing what may seem to a contemporary reader as the unforgivable sins of Whigism and presentism, The Scientific Renaissance remains valuable because of its heavy reliance on primary sources and the absence of a clear alternative. The bibliographical notes say that the book relied upon the primary texts wherever possible and compared English translations to the originals—in some cases Hall made her own translations. The reliance on primary texts is reflected in its expository style, with frequent block quotations and book summaries. Though its unfashionable perspective is clear to any contemporary reader, Hall also rarely engages in open historiographical debate, which helps to keep the book from seeming as old as it is.

Renaissance Festivals - Bibliography

Mulryne, J. R., Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, and Margaret Shewring, eds. 2004. Europa triumphans: court and civic festivals in early modern Europe. 2 vols. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Mulryne, J. R., and Elizabeth Goldring, eds. 2002. Court festivals of the European Renaissance: art, politics, and performance. Burlington,VT: Ashgate.
Mulryne, J. R., and Margaret Shewring, eds. 1992. Italian Renaissance festivals and their European influence. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press.
Strong, Roy C. 1984. Art and power: Renaissance festivals, 1450-1650. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.