John Najemy is a pre-eminent historian of Renaissance Florence.
In a seminal article on Portuguese merchants published 35 years ago (1), David Grant Smith suggested (on p. 247) that emigrants from Madeira ‘constituted a sort of gentile Diaspora’, highlighting how family ties and friendships originating on this small Portuguese Atlantic island ‘endured and formed the basis for a network of commercial relationships’.
This work of literary criticism is inevitably aimed more at people working in French departments than at social or intellectual historians. Despite the interdisciplinary potential of the subject-matter, there is little here of direct interest to the latter, hence this review is addressed primarily to the former.
Portuguese Colonial Cities in the Early Modern World provides a nuanced investigation into cities with varying degrees of connection to the Portuguese empire during the 16th through the 18th centuries.
Maxwell-Stuart's The Chemical Choir is a potentially useful book about the history of alchemy from its roots in ancient China and Egypt in the 4th century AD until the 20th century. It has several merits. Firstly, it breaks down a complex subject – the study of nature through experiments with chemicals – into ten easy-to-read chapters.
If quincentenaries are anything to go by, then 1492 is now commemorated principally for Christopher Columbus’s transatlantic voyage of exploration rather than either the conclusion of Ferdinand’s and Isabella’s eleven year conquest of Islamic Granada – which completed the Reconquista – or the expulsion of Jews from Castile and Aragon.
Glenn Richardson’s latest contribution to early modern Anglo-French relations comes in the form of this edited volume covering nearly three centuries of contact between England and France from 1420 to 1700. The Contending Kingdoms is essentially the proceedings of a Society for Court Studies conference which took place in London in November 2004.
Chandra Mukerji offers us an important book on the design and construction of the Canal du Midi, called Canal royal du Languedoc during the French Ancient Regime. This outstanding canal was constructed during the Louis XIV reign, in parallel to Versailles, at the time was both the largest civil engineering work and the biggest canal ever built in the Western world.
The Rule of Women in Early Modern Europe is a collection of papers which originated in a 2005 conference at the University of Miami. The women examined in the essays include queens regnant, consorts and various regents all of whom exercised power either in their own right or through their marital or familial ties.
In this book, Tonio Andrade tells the story of a wild and uncultivated island originally inhabited by aboriginal hunters and traders.