By Meredith K. Ray
The period of the clinical Revolution has lengthy been epitomized via Galileo. but many girls have been at its leading edge, deeply invested in empirical tradition. They experimented with drugs and functional alchemy at domestic, at court docket, and during collaborative networks of practitioners. In academies, salons, and correspondence, they debated cosmological discoveries; of their literary creation, they used their wisdom of traditional philosophy to argue for his or her highbrow equality to men.
Meredith Ray restores the paintings of those girls to our knowing of early smooth clinical tradition. Her research starts off with Caterina Sforza’s alchemical recipes; examines the sixteenth-century style for “books of secrets”; and appears at narratives of technological know-how in works via Moderata Fonte and Lucrezia Marinella. It concludes with Camilla Erculiani’s letters on average philosophy and, ultimately, Margherita Sarrocchi’s safeguard of Galileo’s “Medicean” stars.
Combining literary and cultural research, Daughters of Alchemy contributes to the rising scholarship at the variegated nature of clinical perform within the early sleek period. Drawing on more than a few under-studied fabric together with new analyses of the Sarrocchi–Galileo correspondence and a formerly unavailable manuscript of Sforza’s Experimenti, Ray’s ebook rethinks early smooth technology, thoroughly reintroducing the critical and crucial paintings of women.
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Additional resources for Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy
Accordingly, the Experiments is plain in style and largely devoid of narrative framework or flourish, with an authorial voice making only rare appearances: for example, to direct a reader’s attention to an especially valuable prescription. 49 The extensive markings in the Cuppano 24 Daughters of Alchemy transcription (notes in the margins, asterisks, or illustrated index fingers directing the reader to particularly important points) suggest that this was a well-used text, not a presentation copy or a work meant only for display.
Caterina did not just collect recipes: she also provided prescriptions and remedies to others. 123 Other more oblique references to the exchange of recipes between Caterina and her correspondents further testify to her standing as a provider of secrets. Even letters of strictly political content contain brief mentions of remedies and prescriptions. 124 Recipes were indeed a form of currency, used here to reciprocate important political intelligence and counsel. They thus become an integral and deliberate element of Caterina’s carefully crafted, authoritative persona as a kind of prince-practitioner.
128 At the same time, however, he also seems to refer to some prior success in this area, mentioning a little book that now constitutes the sum total of his activity in this area and promising to use his knowledge of alchemy only in Caterina’s ser vice. “If Your Ladyship or indeed messer Jacomo [Feo] should wish for some proof of those things I have which I consider useful, I will provide it; and especially with regard to what is contained in that little book . . because I have no intention of ever trying anything beyond that again.