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Transalpine Messengers

Transalpine Messengers

(p.89) 6 Transalpine Messengers
Galileo's Idol
Nick Wilding
University of Chicago Press

Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (1610) is usually viewed as a clarion call of the new science. Little, however, has been done to understand its production, and close analysis of its ornamental woodcuts identifies its presses as belonging to Niccolò Polo, and its printer as Roberto Meietti. Its title-page claims it was produced by Tommaso Baglioni, one of Meietti’s workmen, but this obscures the fact that Meietti had been excommunicated in 1606, as the prime printer of anti-papal tracts in the Interdict crisis. Galileo’s use of Meietti for the Difesa (1607) and the Sidereus Nuncius (1610) reveals a multi-pronged approach to patronage: the Sidereus is dedicated to Cosimo de’ Medici, but printed by the Doge’s client, who also had unrivaled transalpine distribution networks via the Frankfurt book fair. Meietti also printed anti-Jesuit propaganda and erotica, most notably by the convicted forger Celio Malespina.

Keywords:   Sidereus nuncius, Tommaso Baglioni, ornamental woodcuts, Roberto Meietti, Paolo Sarpi, patronage, Frankfurt Book Fair, Celio Malespina

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