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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.

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Review: Julian Rathbone, The Last English King

Julian Rathbone’s, The Last English King (1997), is one of the most memorable historical crime stories that I’ve ever read – assuming, that is, that you count pillage, rape, murder and indeed genocide as crimes. ‘The last English King’ of the title is, of course, King Harold (c.1022-1066), aka Harold Godwinson. Harold was killed at…

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Review: Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower

Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower (1995). A truly wonderful book, based on a true story. It is probably the best work of historical fiction ever written. Full stop. Although, superficially, I must admit, the story is almost Mills & Boon. Germany in the 1790s, the French Revolution rumbling in the background. Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801),…

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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.

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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.

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