A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A lot can be fatal.’

Florence, October 1587. Francesco de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany collapses whilst out hunting with his ambitious younger brother, the Cardinal Ferdinand. Soon the Duke is dead. Officially the Cardinal insists that his brother has died of a malarial fever. But secretly an investigation begins to find the killer – or a suitable scapegoat?

Galileo, a brilliant, impecunious, and unscrupulous young scientist, is struggling to make a name for himself at the corrupt court of the Medici. He is horrified to be arrested as the Duke’s murderer: nothing burns so well as a wicked magician! His only hope is to find the real killer – or, at least, a better scapegoat. His search takes him through the piazzas and palaces of Florence, through the barber-shops and brothels, the cloisters and the taverns. Especially the taverns.

The inspiration behind the book…

You can read more about how I was inspired to write this book about Galileo in a blog post I wrote for Judith Arnopp and if you like you can read an extract from the novel itself.

Of Bezoar, and Bezoarticke medicines

In my novel ‘Galileo’s Revenge’, our hero Galileo Galilei has to solve the suspicious death of Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici (1541-87). In the course of his investigation, Galileo turns to the work of French barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré (c.1510-90), especially the treatise on poisons.

Fynes Moryson, 3: Where to stay and what to eat in Padua

Fynes Moryson (1566-1630) needed to find board and lodging for the winter. The young English gentleman, a near contemporary of Galileo (and Shakespeare), had left England on Mayday, 1591. (See my first Fynes Moryson blog, A rough guide to Shakespeare’s Europe.) After two years of travel around northern Europe, he had crossed the Alps into Italy on Hallow’een, 1593, and headed straight for the Venetian university city of Padua.

Fynes Moryson arrives in Italy

Fynes Moryson (1566-1630) was a well-connected young gentleman from the East of England. In 1591 he left England to travel around Europe. For the next two and a half years he travelled through the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Prussia, Poland and Bohemia.

Galileo’s guru: Archimedes of Syracuse

Galileo was a huge admirer of the ancient Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse (c.287-212BC). In his earliest published work, La bilancetta (1586), Galileo says that anyone ‘who has read and understood the very subtle inventions of this divine man in his own writings…