edited by Bruce T. Moran
Works dealing with the institutional history of science have usually looked to the formation of scientific societies and academies when defining the social context of an emerging experimental approach to nature. This book takes a different approach, focusing attention on the involvement of princely and royal courts in science, technology and medicine from the late Renaissance to the mid-18th century. Courts and court patronage served to animate or shape scientific, technical or medical ideas and practices in a number of different ways: by defining specialized roles oriented toward the examination of nature; by giving credibility and legitimacy to new ideas; through the assumption of social functions by scientific activity at court; by operating within particular political and commercial interests which affected attitudes toward the study and manipulation of nature; and by encouraging an evolving experimental tradition through certain forms of court ideology. This study of patronage relationships draws information from remaining archival collections, providing an understanding of the styles and expectations of individual courts.
It offers an overview of the period and sheds light on the relationship between the tradition of patronage and the formal organization of science in the 17th century.