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Title: Courtly mathematics in sixteenth-century Florence : practical mathematics at the Medici court 1540-1609
Author: Sheppard, Eleanor
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis presents a number of linked views of court-sponsored mathematical practice in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Medici Tuscany, drawn from various sources of different types. Egnatio Danti's Le scienze matematiche n'dotte in tavole (1577), a series of 'tables' or trees outlining the range and scope of the mathematical sciences, as presented by a Medici court cosmographer, provides the framework for investigation into the mathematical practice of a range of mathematicians and 'practical mathematicians' working at or for the Medici court between 1540 and 1609 (under the first three grand dukes of Florence and Tuscany). Further views of mathematical practice are then sought through closer examination of the careers of a number of Florentine 'practical mathematicians', using official court records, instruments and maps, printed and manuscript writings, and private letters. Examination of these differing views of mathematics, both public and formulated (Danti's tables), and more derivative (views taken from the official court records and private letters), aims to contribute towards an understanding of Florentine courtly mathematics in its working setting. My identification of Medici mathematicians is taken from the activities of practitioners and categories used by their patrons and employers. Using the term 'practical mathematician' as defined explicitly in Danti's tables, this thesis will test the usefulness of this actor's categorisation. Comparison of the careers and activities of a range of 'practical mathematicians', more or less concerned with the mathematical basis of their activities, from cosmographers and teachers at the Medici court, to ducal military and hydraulic engineers and a ducal scenographer, reveals certain similarities of mathematical practice between these men, and a range of mathematical practice in Medici Tuscany much in keeping with the view of the mathematical sciences presented in Danti's tables.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available