Marsigli's Europe, 1680-1730


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The Life and Times of Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli, Soldier and Virtuoso

John Stoye

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Count Luigi Marsigli (1658-1730) was a nobleman, Habsburg general, emissary of popes, scientist, and patron of the arts and letters. His fascinating life and activities—recounted for the first time by the eminent historian John Stoye—illuminate the many worlds of European civilization during this important period.

Born in Bologna, Marsigli traveled throughout Europe from Istanbul to London, but spent much of his time in the Balkan countries and the lands south of the Danube. Stoye follows the count as he moved through the Habsburg Empire, mapping the terrain, determining boundary lines, and participating in a train of events with a crucial impact on Bosnia and Croatia today. He shows how Marsigli pursued his varied interests, classifying mushrooms, finding geological specimens, describing Roman ruins, studying marine biology, and making his place in the increasingly scientific community of the early Enlightenment.

Stoye tells how Marsigli, founder of an observatory and museum in Bologna, was welcomed by academics and scientific societies throughout Europe, revealing that the interest in science and antiquity transcended national boundaries during this period. Through the activities of Marsigli, Stoye sheds light on the complexities of European social, political, and military life and the contrast between conditions of war and peace in the phases of European history. Brilliantly narrated by one of the best-known authorities on the era, this account of Marsigli's life is an engrossing and highly entertaining story.

John Stoye, Emeritus Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University, is also the author of English Travellers Abroad, 1609-1667, Revised Edition, published by Yale University Press.

"The magnum opus of a fine scholar evokes a true European, magnificently baroque in his Faustian thirst for knowledge."—The Times (London)

"Dr. Stoye has written an elegant and unpretentious biography of this interesting—if minor—figure. . . . The Marsiglis of the Republic of Letters, busy observing, collecting and classifying, were just as important to the great eighteenth-century explosion of knowledge as the Newtons and Boyles, and the author's skill in teasing out the details of this rather humdrum life is everywhere apparent."—Robert I. Frost, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

"The great achievement of John Stoye has been to illuminate each of Marsigli's many worlds, and, in so doing, to give us a new and distinctive vision of Europe itself in an age of transition. . . . Stoye has made the most of these possibilities, and writing with wit and grace has produced a brilliant, and immensely enjoyable, book."—J. H. Elliott, London Review of Books

ISBN: 9780300055429
Publication Date: March 23, 1994
368 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
30 b/w illus.