Italian Physicians at the Habsburg Courts in the Second Half of the Sixteenth Century. Professional Relationships, Cultural Exchanges and Transmission of Knowledge

Project leader: Dr. Alessandra Quaranta

Mentor: DDr. Sonia Horn

Funding Institution: FWF Der Wissenschaftsfonds (Lise Meitner M 2907-G)

Project Duration: 2020 – October 2022

The research project focuses on the group of the Italian physicians who, in various capacities, worked at the Habsburg courts in Vienna, Prague and Innsbruck in the period 1500–1600. Their professional tasks, their scientific activities and their friendship relationships are studied within a broad social, cultural, political and religious context. The latter includes both the imperial courts – critical hubs of power, knowledge and patronage in early modern period –, and the medical institutions in Austrian territories, such as the medical faculty of Vienna and the city hospitals.

Primary matter of concern is the reconstruction of the role both the Italian physicians’ functions and their humanistic erudition played in shaping the socio-political identity of the Habsburg courts and their cultural orientations. To this end, the history of ideas and social history are interweaved with each other, and the connections between the physicians’ intellectual activity on the one hand, and their social status and their professional roles on the other are taken into account. I also dedicate particular attention to the networks of the cultural and scientific exchanges carried out by the Italian physicians, and I explore the production and transmission processes of the Italian medical knowledge across Europe, and the transformations it underwent, in the awareness that the dynamics of knowledge transfer were bound up with the evolution of knowledge itself.