William Bennet Munro History Seminar

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
'Famous Farriers I have known:' Farriery Manuals and Vernacular Expertise in Renaissance Italy
Karl Appuhn, Associate Professor of History and Italian, New York University,

Abstract: This paper will examine the surprisingly popular Renaissance genre of the Farriery Manual. Writers such as the English polymath Gervase Markham and the Italian stablemaster Filippo Scaccho da Tagliacozzo offered interested readers detailed advice on many aspects of animal—especially equine—care and management. The most interesting of these texts combined commentaries on classical texts with empirical advice that supposedly came straight from the stables. This combination of classical and empirical knowledge is not particularly surprising when it comes from a member of the English gentry such as Markham. However, Tagliacozzo's claim to be a stablemaster raises a number of interesting questions about the ways in which tradesmen might have used their own vernacular expertise to engage with the world of classical learning. As a way of thinking through some of these questions I will analyze two key texts that offer evidence of the existence of a figure we might call the humanist farrier—Tagliacozzo's 1591 book and a Florentine manuscript I discovered by a Farrier named Dino Dini.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at cecilial@caltech.edu.