Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
The University of Bologna and The University of Edinburgh
Website URL
history of science; history of medicine; environmental history; historical anthropology; Renaissance; early modern; Leonardo da Vinci; history of dissection; history of gender and sexuality; history of astrology; history of natural history; disaster studies; science and religion; circulation of knowledge; catholics networks.
Additional Contact Information
Based in Florence; bilingual Italian-English.

Personal Info

About Me

My research interests lie at the intersection of the history of science and the cultural, political, and religious history of Italy in the period ca. 1450-1750. Thematically, I am particularly interested in how ‘scientific’ knowledge is produced and circulates in early modern societies. I am also keen to explore how this knowledge shaped the lives of early modern men and women in practical ways. Within this broader framework I recently concentrated on the practice of astrology within Italian Renaissance courts to illustrate the many ways in which astrological counsel was used to shape both public and private action. The outcome of this research has now appeared in The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan (Harvard University Press, 2013) and a series of related articles.

My new research project, which is at the core of a planned second monograph, explores the relationship between the environment and society in early modern Italy, with a focus on how early modern Italians understood and responded to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and other dramatic weather phenomena. Within this framework, I am concentrating particularly on the nexus religion-science and on the circulation of ‘scientific’ knowledge within and outwith the Italian peninsula.

I am also very keen to apply the methods of historical anthropology and environmental history to current debates about the environment and I have collaborated with human geographers, seismologists, colleagues in Digital Education, and NGO staff to study the way historical knowledge could contribute actively to enhancing disaster risk response and resilience among affected populations both in Italy and in non-European countries.

I held prestigious fellowships at I Tatti – The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, The Warburg Institute, London, and the Shelby Cullom Davis Center at Princeton University. My research has been supported by the British Academy, The Leverhulme Trust, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, The Carnegie Trust, The European Commission, and The Global Challenges Research Fund (AHRC/NERC/EHSC). I published widely on Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical studies, Renaissance astrology, and courtly science. I joined the University of Bologna in the autumn of 2017 as Associate Professor in the History of Science.

Recent Publications


2017. Italian Renaissance Diplomacy: Texts in Translation (1350-1520), ed. Monica Azzolini and Isabella Lazzarini (Toronto: PIMS/Brepols, 2017) Durham Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Translations 6, 300 pp.

2013. The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press), 392pp. Shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize (2013).

•Articles and chapters (refereed):

2017. “Coping with Catastrophe: St Filippo Neri as Patron Saint of Earthquakes,” in Prevedere/Forecasting, edited by Michela Sara Barbot and Federica Favino, Special Issue of Quaderni Storici, 52.3: pp. 1–24.

2017. “Talking of Animals: Whales, Ambergris, and the Circulation of Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century Rome,” Renaissance Studies, 31.2: 297–318.

2017. “Ritual” and “Medicine and Astrology.” In Monica Azzolini and Isabella Lazzarini, eds, Italian Renaissance Diplomacy: Texts in Translation (1350-1520) (Toronto: PIMS/Brepols): 150–173; 234–254.

—with Isabella Lazzarini. “Diplomacy and the Papacy.” In Italian Renaissance Diplomacy: Texts in Translation (1350-1520)(Toronto: PIMS/Brepols): 96–115.

2014. Monica Azzolini and Adam Mosley, “Astronomy and Astrology.” In Philip Ford, Jan Bloemendal and Charles Fantazzi eds., Brill’s Encyclopaedia of the Neo-Latin World (Leiden – Boston: Brill, 2014): 667-677.

2013. ““A Starry Gift: A New Horoscope for Cosimo I de’ Medici.” In Machtelt Isräels and Louis A. Waldman, eds, Renaissance Studies in Honor of Joseph Connors, 2 vols (Florence: Villa I Tatti-The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, 2013), vol. 2: 126-132.

2013. “L’insegnamento dell’astrologia e dell’astronomia.” In Dario Mantovani et al, eds. Almum Studium Papiense. Storia dell’Università di Pavia, vol. 1, t. 1 (Milan: Cisalpino Editore, 2013): 562-568.

2012. “Consiglieri celesti: astrologi e politica nel Rinascimento Italiano.” In Germana Ernst ed., Astrologia e divinazione nel Rinascimento (Rome: Carocci): 187-201.

2011. “Exploring Generation: A Context to Leonardo’s Anatomies of the Female and Male Bodies.” In Domenico Laurenza and Alessandro Nova eds, Leonardo da Vinci’s Anatomical World: Language, Context and “Disegno” (Venice: Marsilio Editore): 79-97.

2011. “Refining the Astrologer’s Art: Astrological diagrams in Bodleian MS Canon. Misc. 24 and Cardano’s Libelli quinque (1547),” Journal for the History of Astronomy, 42: 1-25.

2010. “The Political Uses of Astrology: Predicting the Illness and Death of Princes, Kings and Popes in the Renaissance,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, special issue Stars, Spirits, Signs: Astrology 1000-1800, edited by Lauren Kassell and Rob Ralley, vol. 41.2: 135-145 [13,000 words].

2008. “The Politics of Prognostication: Astrology, Political Conspiracy and Murder in Fifteenth-Century Italy,” History of Universities [special Issue: edited by Sven Dupré and Sachiko Kusukawa], 23.2: 6-34.

Media Coverage
Participation in 2 episodes of ‘The Mystery Files’ (National Geographic) on Leonardo da Vinci and Nostradamus (world-wide distribution).
Country Focus
Italy; Global Catholic Networks (esp. South America)
Expertise by Geography
Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Medieval, Pre-17th century, 17th century, Early Modern
Expertise by Topic
Diplomacy, Environment, Gender, Medicine, Religion, Science, Sexuality