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.


front cover of Galileo's Revenge

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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.


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.

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

Fynes Moryson’s ‘Itinerary’: a rough guide to Shakespeare’s Europe.

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.

Continue Reading Fynes Moryson’s ‘Itinerary’: a rough guide to Shakespeare’s Europe.

The banner image at the top of this page is ‘Venus and Cupid with a Lute Player’ by Titian © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge