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Publishing Sacrobosco’s De sphaera in Early Modern Europe

Modes of Material and Scientific Exchange


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  • The first book to cover the entire history of early modern textbooks of astronomy

  • The only book dealing with history of astronomy from the perspective of the economy of printed books

  • Investigates the community of pre-modern European publishers and sellers as a single literary endeavor

  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

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Softcover Book
USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD 59.99
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Table of contents (13 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xiv
  2. Paratexts, Printers, and Publishers: Book Production in Social Context

    • Matteo Valleriani, Christoph Sander
    Pages 337-367Open Access
  3. The Sphaera in Jesuit Education

    • Paul F. Grendler
    Pages 369-407Open Access
  4. Back Matter

    Pages 485-492

About this book

This open access volume focuses on the cultural background of the pivotal transformations

of scientific knowledge in the early modern period.

It investigates the rich edition history of Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de sphaera,

by far the most widely disseminated textbook on geocentric cosmology, from the unique

standpoint of the many printers, publishers, and booksellers who steered this text from

manuscript to print culture, and in doing so transformed it into an established platform

of scientific learning. The corpus, constituted of 359 different editions featuring

Sacrobosco’s treatise on cosmology and astronomy printed between 1472 and 1650,

represents the scientific European shared knowledge concerned with the cosmological

worldview of the early modern period until far after the publication of Copernicus’ De

revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543.

The contributions to this volume show how the academic book trade influenced the

process of homogenization of scientific knowledge. They also describe the material

infrastructure through which such knowledge was disseminated, and thus define the

premises for the foundation of modern scientific communities.


  • Johannes de Sacrobosco
  • Tractatus de sphaera
  • Academic Book Market
  • Early Modern Prints
  • History of Astronomy
  • Open Access

Editors and Affiliations

  • Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany

    Matteo Valleriani

  • Department of Economics, Management, Quantitative, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

    Andrea Ottone

About the editors

Matteo Valleriani is Research Group Leader in Dept. I, Honorary Professor at the Technische Universität Berlin, Professor for Special Appointments at the Faculty of Humanities at Tel Aviv University, and Principal Investigator of the Project “Images and Configurations in Corpora of University Textbooks” at the Berlin Center for Machine Learning. In his research, he investigates processes of 1) emergence of scientific knowledge in relation to its practical, social, and institutional dimensions, and 2) homogenization of scientific knowledge in the framework of Cultural Heritage Studies. 
Centering on cosmological knowledge, Matteo Valleriani’s current major research project is concerned with the evolution of the scientific knowledge system and with the establishment of a shared scientific identity in Europe in the period between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries. In the frame of this project he also co-develops and implements multi-layered network models ( A further focus of his research is on the epistemic function of visual material in scientific research and in the framework of processes of knowledge transformation. Within this context he co-develops and applies machine learning technologies. Among his major publications: The Structures of Practical Knowledge, Springer Nature, 2017, Metallurgy, Ballistics and Epistemic Instruments: The “Nova Scientia” of Nicolò Tartaglia. A New Edition, Edition Open Access, 2013, Galileo Engineer, Springer, 2010. 
Andrea Ottone is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Economics of the University of Milan where he collaborates with Angela Nuovo’s ERC founded project EMoBookTrade. In the frame of this project he studies the economic background of Venice’s book industry in the Renaissance, with particular reference to costs and prices and the methods of market assessment. He is also fellow at Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin where he partakes to Matteo Valleriani’s Sphaera project. In this context he assists the prime investigator in studying the mechanisms of material circulation Sacrobosco’s printed editions in late Renaissance early Baroque Europe. He holds an adjunct position at the Technische Universität Berlin where he offers classes of European history with a focus on the history of communication, history of science in the frame of the Counter Reformation, and Renaissance empiricism in political thinking. Between 2007 and 2015, in the capacity of Graduate Teaching Associate, he taught classes of Western civilization and European history at the Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio). Between 2002 and 2012, in the frame of the RICI program (an Italy based project involving the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” University of Rome “Tre,” University of Milan “Cattolica” and University of Macerata), he extensively explored topics related to Cinquecento book censorship, Counter Reformation institutions, book circulation and the morphology of private and common book collections. 

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Publishing Sacrobosco’s De sphaera in Early Modern Europe

  • Book Subtitle: Modes of Material and Scientific Exchange

  • Editors: Matteo Valleriani, Andrea Ottone

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2022

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-86599-3

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-86602-0

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-86600-6

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIV, 492

  • Number of Illustrations: 2 b/w illustrations, 70 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: History of Science, History of Philosophy

Buying options

Softcover Book
USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)