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.
Galileo in a nutshell
Galileo Galilei, a young man 23 years old in Galileo’s Revenge, went on to become the most famous astronomer and scientist of his day.
His use of the newly discovered telescope to explore the Heavens made him famous, but also led him to clash with the Roman Inquisition.
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.
Ambroise Paré (c.1510 – 90) was an innovative barber-surgeon, who became chief surgeon to the kings of France. His collected works, first published in 1582, discuss a wide range of surgical and medical problems, including poisons.
Orlando Furioso – that is, Mad Orlando, or Orlando goes Mad – is a wonderful 33,000-line epic poem written in Italian by the poet and courtier Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1535).
In Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso, the noble knight Orlando is driven mad by jealousy. Eventually, his friend, the English knight Duke Astolfo, travels to the Moon to recover Orlando’s lost wits.
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…