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Hardcover | $45.00 Short | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780262123082 | 384 pp. | 8 x 10 in | 86 b&w illus.| June 2009

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The Book of Michael of Rhodes, Volume 3 - Studies

A Fifteenth-Century Maritime Manuscript
Edited by Pamela O. Long


In the fifteenth century, a Venetian mariner, Michael of Rhodes, wrote and illustrated a text describing his experiences in the Venetian merchant and military fleets. He included a treatise on commercial mathematics and treatments of contemporary shipbuilding practices, navigation, calendrical systems, and astrological ideas. This manuscript, "lost," or at least in unknown hands for over 400 years, has never been published or translated in its entirety until now.

In volume 3, nine experts, including the editors, discuss the manuscript, its historical context, and its scholarly importance. Their essays examine the Venetian maritime world of the fifteenth century, Michael's life, the discovery of the manuscript, the mathematics in the book, the use of illustration, the navigational directions, Michael's knowledge of shipbuilding in the Venetian context, and the manuscript’s extensive calendrical material.

About the Editor

Pamela O. Long is an independent historian who has published widely in medieval and Renaissance history of science and technology.


“[A] fascinating document concerning the life, interests, and skills of an early modern sailor.” — David Elton Gay, Journal of Folklore Research


"In this volume of essays, meant to accompany the first published edition of Michael of Rhode's remarkable maritime manuscript, an international community of scholars offers a brilliant assessment of the context and significance of Michael's surprisingly rich compendium of writings on mathematics, astronomy, shipbuilding, and his own life. Not only is this collection a model of collaborative scholarship; it also opens a window onto the highly textured world of a mariner whose curiosity and genius will do no less than transform our understanding of the Renaissance. That Michael started out his career as an oarsman for the Venetian fleet is only one of the surprises in the life of this extraordinary intellectual."
John Jeffries Martin, professor of history, Duke University

"The book of Michael of Rhodes, a Greek by birth who integrated within Venetian society, is a unique document. It offers an exceptionally precious insight into the life, interests, and knowledge of a mariner whose career in the Venetian navy, on state missions and commercial expeditions extended from 1401 to 1443. In his numerous sailings between Venice, England, Egypt, and the Black Sea he gathered extensive data about shipbuilding, navigation, time reckoning, ports, maritime transportation, commodities, trade, and commercial calculation. This book will appeal to scholars of economic, maritime, and cultural history of the late Middle Ages."
David Jacoby, Department of History, Hebrew University

"The Book of Michael of Rhodes provides a remarkable glimpse into the individual life of a mariner, the harsh conditions of his service at sea, the material conditions of Venetian trade, the making of knowledge in Renaissance culture, and the fraught process for a vernacular author of transforming his lived experience into the written word. This collection is a marvel."
Pamela H. Smith, Department of History, Columbia University


2011 Eugene S. Ferguson Prize, presented by the Society for the History of Technology

2011 J. Franklin Jameson Prize, presented by the American Historical Association