My other interest is Italian Renaissance history, with a focus on Rome and Florence – and Machiavelli.
After graduating in Medieval and Modern History from St.Andrew’s University, I completed a Ph.D. in cultural and economic history at the European University Institute (EUI, 1983) in Florence (supervised by Prof. Carlo Cipolla, Dr. David Chambers and Prof. Richard Goldthwaite).
At the EUI I was privileged to be taught by leading historians, including Charles Wilson. Professor Denys Hay was also briefly a supervisor during the time he was at the EUI in 1981-82, something that serves as a memorable link to Edinburgh, the university where I now teach part-time. While working in the Florentine State Archives – which were still in the Uffizi at the time – I also met other well-known experts on Florentine Renaissance history who were incredibly generous with their knowledge and expertise. My research also involved time spent in the Vatican Library and the State Archives in Rome (which vied with Florence for their extraordinary location – in the courtyard of Borromini’s church Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza).
The title of my thesis was “Una suprema magnificenza”: Niccolo’ Ridolfi, a Florentine Cardinal in Sixteenth-Century Rome. The following articles are based on the research.
“Aspetti giuridici e finanziari di una “famiglia” cardinalizia del XVI secolo: un progetto di ricerca”, in Famiglia del Principe e famiglia aristocratica, C. Mozzarelli (ed), Rome: Bulzoni Editore (1988) pp. 611-630.
“The Concept of Hospitality in a Cardinal’s Household in Renaissance Rome”, in Renaissance Studies, 2 (1988) pp. 312-320.
“Cardinal Ridolfi and Sant’Agata dei Goti”, in Early Modern Rome, Edisai Edizioni, Ferrara (2012), pp. 230–40
And also the following entries in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (now available online):
“Niccolò Ridolfi”, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in press)
“Roberto Ridolfi”, DBI (in press)
“Antonio Elio”, DBI, XLII (1993), pp. 480-84
“Cardinal Ippolito D’Este”, DBI, XLIII (1993), pp. 361-74
“Cardinal Ippolito II D’Este”, DBI, XLIII (1993), pp. 374-76
During the academic years 2013 to 2016 I taught an undergraduate honours course on Machiavelli and his World in the History Department at Edinburgh University. I continue to teach the course at the Centre for Open Learning at the University.
These are some of the courses I teach at the Centre for Open Learning, Edinburgh University:
The Florentine Renaissance: A Chronological Assessment.
The Republic of Venice: Myth and Reality, 1400-1650.
Rome ‘Caput Mundi’: Curia, Cardinals and Courtesans from 1300 to 1590.
The State as a Work of Art: Power and Politics in Renaissance Italy.
Food and Society in Early Modern Europe.
Niccolo Machiavelli: Politics, Society and Culture in Renaissance Italy.
Viridaria perpulchra: Gardens in and around Rome during the High Renaissance and Early Baroque.
Renaissance and Baroque Gardens in Central and Northern Italy.
Food in Italy: the Middle Ages to the Risorgimento
Mary Queen of Scots: French fashions at the Scottish court.
I have given public lectures on several of the above topics, including a talk for the Friends of the Botanics, on “The Gardens of the Savoy Residences in Piedmont: Influences and Innovations”.
Please contact me to discuss any talks that you might be interested in arranging, or get in touch with Centre for Open Learning at Edinburgh University to enquire about enrolling on a course.
(Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, Rome)