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Hardcover | $65.00 Short | £44.95 | ISBN: 9780262135030 | 534 pp. | 8 x 10 in | 48 illus.| June 2009

The Book of Michael of Rhodes, Volume 1 - Facsimile

A Fifteenth-Century Maritime Manuscript
Edited by David McGee


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.

Volume 1 is a facsimile of the manuscript, reproduced in full color. The text is written out by hand and beautifully illustrated (probably at least in part by Michael himself), featuring color diagrams and illustrations of naval architecture, original drawings of astrological signs, calendrical charts, and a coat of arms Michael devised for himself.

About the Editor

David McGee, formerly Research Associate and Head of Secondary Acquisitions at the Dibner Institute's Burndy Library, is an independent scholar, working recently with the Canadian Science and Technology Museum.


"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