The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the tradition of Galileo's Daughter and Brunelleschi's Dome, this exciting story illuminates the captivating world of the late Renaissance—in this case its plagues, remedies, and alchemy—through the life of Leonardo Fioravanti, a brilliant, remarkably forward-thinking, and utterly unconventional doctor. Fioravanti's marvelous cures and talent for self-aggrandizement earned him the adoration of the people, the scorn of the medical establishment, and a reputation as one of the age's most colorful, combative ...
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The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy

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Overview

In the tradition of Galileo's Daughter and Brunelleschi's Dome, this exciting story illuminates the captivating world of the late Renaissance—in this case its plagues, remedies, and alchemy—through the life of Leonardo Fioravanti, a brilliant, remarkably forward-thinking, and utterly unconventional doctor. Fioravanti's marvelous cures and talent for self-aggrandizement earned him the adoration of the people, the scorn of the medical establishment, and a reputation as one of the age's most colorful, combative figures. Written by Pulitzer-prize nominated historian William Eamon, The Professor of Secrets entices readers into a dangerous scientific underworld of sorcerers and surgeons. Meticulously researched and engagingly written, this gripping narrative will appeal to those interested in Renaissance history, the development of science, and the historical thrillers so popular today.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The author presents what medicine was like during the Renaissance with a wealth of unexpected details…and a light, accessible touch…that makes this book welcome reading not only for the summer but for any time of year.” —Los Angeles Times

“In this entertaining biography of Neapolitan physician and self-promoter Leonardo Fioravanti, Eamon gives a portrait of sixteenth century Italy that is far more realistic than that of those who follow the myth of the Renaissance.” –Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426206856
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 7/20/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 517,477
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

William Eamon is a widely published, internationally known and respected scholar based at New Mexico State University. His first book, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in the Medieval and Early Modern Culture was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history and won the History Book Award from the Association of American Publishers. He is co-editor of the excellently reviewedBeyond the Black Legend: Spain and the Scientific Revolution.
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Read an Excerpt

If the Italian Renaissance was a dream, the late Renaissance in Italy was a nightmare. As a checkerboard of independent principalities, Italy was tantalizing territory for the powerful, centralized monarchies newly arrived on the Continental scene. The French monarchy, which had consolidated its domestic power following the Hundred Years’ War, and the Catholic monarchs of Spain—Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who in 1492 had completed thereconquista of the Spanish peninsula by taking the last Muslim stronghold, Granada—regarded Italy as a region of vast wealth and strategic importance. For both France and Spain, the prospect of expansion into the Italian peninsula held a powerful appeal.

Whenever they faced a crisis, all too often the Italian city-states called upon some foreign ally to tip the balance of power in their favor. In 1494, the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, “Il Moro,” invited the King of France to invade Naples in order to punish his old enemy, Ferrante II, the Aragonese king of Naples. French King Charles VIII, who had just come of age, wanted to do something bold, and Il Moro gave him his chance. Pressing an ancient claim to the Kingdom of Naples, Charles gathered an army of 25,000 men and invaded the peninsula. Unexpectedly, city after city capitulated to him, and within a few short months Charles marched into Naples, having conquered virtually all of Italy.

The French invasion heralded a period of foreign involvement in Italian aff airs that would last for more than 60 years. Machiavelli found the situation so desperate that he exhorted some “new prince”—a thinly veiled reference to Lorenzo de’ Medici of Florence—to step forth and “liberate Italy from the barbarians.” What happened instead was a succession of foreign incursions, culminating in the humiliating Sack of Rome in 1527—a fi tting measure of Italy’s impotence. Even if it was only a dream, to many of Leonardo Fioravanti’s contemporaries the age of Italy’s glory seemed far in the past.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: Experience and Memory 7

1 Mia Dolce Patria 14

2 The Empire of Disease 22

3 Medical Bologna 34

4 Leonardo and the Anatomists 41

5 The Education of a Surgeon 48

6 The Road of Experience 57

7 The Carnival Doctor 62

8 The New Asclepius 69

9 The Marvelous Virtues of Precipitato 77

10 Chalatan or Wonder Worker? 86

11 An Ingenious Surgery 91

12 The Marvels of Naples 102

13 An Academy of Magi 111

14 The University of War 122

15 The Cardinal's House 134

16 A Surgeon in Rome 140

17 A Road Not Taken 150

18 Venetian Curiosities 157

19 The Lure of the Charlatan 166

20 A Writer for the Ages 175

21 Venice's Scientific Underworld 188

22 Mathematical Magic 196

23 The Search for the Philosopher's Stone 204

24 A Star is Born 210

25 The Medical Entrepreneur 219

26 Ambition and Glory 228

27 A Conspiracy of Doctors 242

28 Leonardo the Chameleon 250

29 Life and Art 259

30 In the Court of the Catholic King 266

31 Masters of Fire 277

32 The Charlatan's Trial 283

33 "Il mio sacco é vuoto" 294

34 The Judgment of History 302

Epilogue: Traces 315

Acknowledgments 320

Appendix 322

Notes 324

Bibliography 344

Index 360

Image Credits 368

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    I am a nursing major who has always found the history of medicin

    I am a nursing major who has always found the history of medicine to be a fascinating subject. For me, this was a wonderfully written book, showing not only details of procedures from the time period, but the politics that surrounded the issues of medicine as well. However, I cannot say that I recommend this for all, since many might find the subject boring, if they are not history nerds like I am. But if the history of medicine is what interests you, then I really do recommend this for you!

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    Posted December 5, 2010

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