Staff profiles

Photo of Monica Azzolini

Dr Monica Azzolini

MPhil, PhD

Senior Lecturer; Early Modern European History


Summary of research interests

  • Europe
  • Mediterranean
  • Culture
  • Medieval
  • Early Modern

Research interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of the history of science and the cultural and political history of Italy in the Renaissance.  Thematically, I am particularly interested in how 'scientific' knowledge is produced and circulates in early modern societies. I am also keen to explore how this knowledge shaped the lives of early modern men and women in practical ways. Within this broader framework I have recently concentrated on the practice of astrology within Italian Renaissance courts to illustrate the many ways in which astrological counsel was used to shape both public and private action. The outcome of this research has now appeared in The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan  (Harvard University Press, 2013) and a series of related articles.

Current research activities

Page from the Crawford Collection

Image from the Crawford Collection

I am presently engaged in a number of projects related to the broader applications of astrology in Renaissance and Early Modern society. I have now collected a wealth of material that can complement and enrich my early findings on Renaissance Milan. My new book project aims to explore the political dimension of astrology in Early Modern Italy more broadly by expanding both the geographic and the chronological scope of my researches to include the courts of Mantua, Ferrara, Florence, and Rome. I also plan to devote an article to the study of astrology and sexuality with particular attention to marriage and procreation. This last project situates itself into a broader investigation of the rites and rituals of fertility and procreation in Early Modern Italy, a project that will allow me to return to the field of history of medicine proper.

Page from the Crawford Collection

Image from the Crawford Collection

Research projects

My current research remains engaged with the history of astrology and astronomy. In recent years I have been particularly keen to promote a better understanding of the history of astronomy and astrology among the wider public. This has translated into a series of lectures in the history of astronomy revolving around the Crawford Collection in the History of Astronomy housed at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. I have devised a collaborative blog that functions as an active forum of discussion of all things related to this topic. The blog has a dedicated section about the Crawford Collection and another with podcasts of all the annual lectures that have taken place since 2009. To go to the blog, please click here.












I am also particularly keen to develop collaborations with colleagues engaging in research on the political uses of scientific knowledge, namely the ways in which politics shaped (or was shaped) by scientific ideas.