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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

11 - Courts and Academies

from Part II - Personae and Sites of Natural Knowledge
Ducal courts predominated in German speaking areas, and wealthier Italian courts, including the papal court in Rome, were able to bestow status and authority in a proportion far exceeding regional power. Whether a court was large or small, the personality and interests of its ruler directed court life and organized its vitality as a cultural site. In this regard, Renaissance and early modern courts shared much in common with their medieval predecessors. At the Prague court of the emperor Rudolf II, science, art, humanism, and technology intertwined, thanks in large part to the heterogeneity of the interests and backgrounds of court members. The court workshop was closely related to the curiosity cabinet, and some objects on display combined fictive and natural elements in such a way as to communicate personal messages when works of nature were marvelously turned into works of art. Members of court aristocracies shaped and influenced early scientific academies, and participation by the nobility enhanced their respectability.
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The Cambridge History of Science
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