Cosmopolitan Academics, Pluralist Institutions, and the Emergence of the New Sciences

Stemmi of Palazzo Bo


The CAPIENS (Cosmopolitan Academics, Pluralist Institutions, and the Emergence of the New Sciences) project employs a blend of textual, philosophical and biographical approaches, to delineate the significant role played by 'cosmopolitan' academics in institutional settings from 1560-1630 - a crucial period for the development of the new sciences.

The project will examine university theses, manuscript lecture notes, and published material produced by a close network of academics who flourished at institutions that possessed relative degrees of political and religious autonomy from the respective prevalent orthodoxies within their territories. It will focus upon unearthing the emergence of a cosmopolitan scholarly culture in universities spread geographically from Europe to the Near East, especially in Britain, the Kingdom of France, the Venetian Republic, and the German Princely states, all of which were situated across Europe's varied national and confessional divides.

A recent MSCA project (ENNSE) at Venice has shown that a distinctly cosmopolitan culture was imported to Britain (Edinburgh) through this network. It infiltrated the traditional Aristotelian framework for teaching in Natural Philosophy and began the process of replacing it with emergent scientific disciplines. This group of closely-connected scholars worked and were educated across all several specific centres during this period. This project will show that the firm hold that the new knowledge took in Edinburgh, and the definitively 'modern' shape it took, must be understood in the politically-determined cosmopolitan cultures of the centres across Europe at which the network studied and worked.
Edinburgh, Helmstedt, Montpellier, Paris, Padua/Venice, and Basel were centres at which the academics from differing national and confessional backgrounds were able to congregate and work. Close reading and cross-referencing between centres will offer insight into the impact these scholars made. The initial survey suggests that each institution’s ambivalent relationship with the immediate political environment in which they operated fostered academic cultures that increasingly embraced new scientific and philosophical positions and approaches that reflected the relative freedom from local confessional constraints.

Giordano Bruno, De Monade Numero et Figura Liber Consequens Quinque De Minimo Magno & Mensura (Frankfurt, 1591)
Andre du Laurens, Historia anatomica humani corporis (Frankfurt, 1599)
Guidi Ubaldi e Marchionibus Montis, Planisphaeriorum Universalium Theorica (Pesaro, 1579)

Cosmopolitan Science


  • Cosmopolitan Galileans Quatuor Problematum
  • Cosmpolita Edinburgh Theses King 1628
  • From Basel to Britain John Jolie Theses
  • Parisian Innovators L’Uranologie Du Monin
  • Patronised Science Sinclair


  • Paris Padua Edinburgh Institutional Medicine Consilia Medicinalia
  • Venetian Medical Culture Grana Angelica


David McOmish

Project PI
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca' Foscari University of Venice (Italy)

Responsibility for examining the texts (philological; bibliographical), contexts (intellectual history; history of science), and networks (personal and institutional) of cosmopolitan Academic and scientific culture 1560-1660.

Marie-Louise Leonard

Postdoctoral Researcher
Ca' Foscari University of Venice (Italy)

Responsibilities: generating, curating, and arranging project texts; project support on medical humanities; project research output on commercial, vocational, and academic medical culture 1580-1630.

Sim Innes

Visiting Professorial Fellow
Senior Lecturer (Celtic and Gaelic), School of Humanities, University of Glasgow (UK)

Responsibilities: Gaelic manuscript sources in social and medical contexts; excavating Gaelic cultural communities in Europe through archival sources 1560-1630.