My historical novel ‘Galileo’s Revenge’ is set in sixteenth-century Florence, ruled by the Medici Dukes of Tuscany. Originally a family of merchants and bankers, the Medici dominated the government and culture of Florence
The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
Galileo’s Revenge is based on events that took place in Florence in 1587. It was a world very different to ours. Italy was still divided into a dozen or more independent, competitive principalities – the Papal States, the Republic of Venice, the Duchy of Florence and Tuscany, the Two Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples (under Spanish rule), and so forth. The European super-powers – France, Spain and the Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire – constantly manoeuvred for influence. The Ottoman Empire was ever a threat in the Mediterranean. At the same time Europe was torn apart by religious conflict: broadly-speaking, the Roman Catholic Church against the new Protestant faiths. With the deaths of Michelangelo (1564) and Titian (1576), the High Renaissance in art may have finished, but there were exciting new developments in the sciences.
Read more about the book, get a glimpse of the first pages and check out reviews …
I shall collect here my posts about life in Galileo’s Italy: about politics and religion, about literature and the arts, and about anything else that appears in my story – from hunting and alchemy, through pornography and poison, to clothing, wine, ice-cream and football.
But first and foremost, click on the image below to learn about the Medici family. They provided the inescapable background to everybody’s life in sixteenth-century Florence and Tuscany.
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 (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 (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.
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.
Fynes Moryson (1566-1630) was an Elizabethan gentleman, a couple of years younger than Shakespeare and Galileo. As a young man, in the 1590s, he travelled widely in Europe, and to the Holy Land. This article is the first in a series of blogs recording his travels, especially through Galileo’s Italy.
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.
The banner image at the top of this page is ‘Venus and Cupid with a Lute Player’ by Titian © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge