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Hardcover | $48.00 Short | £39.95 | 384 pp. | 8 x 10 in | 86 b&w illus. | June 2009 | ISBN: 9780262123082
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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.”—Journal of Folklore Research


“In this volume of essays—meant to accompany the first published edition of Michael of Rhodes'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 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