The Empirical Spy: Filippo Cavriana (1536–1606) and the Political Authority of Medicine.
Clément Godbarge defended his PhD in Italian Studies at New York University in 2017. Since then, he has taught at NYU and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University, where he took part in the Making and Knowing Project. He has published research on early-modern literature, intellectual history, and the digital humanities. He is co-editor of Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France. A Digital Critical Edition and English Translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640 (New York: Making and Knowing Project, 2020).
Over the course of the sixteenth century, an increasing number of court physicians performed the roles of ambassador, secretary and councilor. This research follows the colorful life of Filippo Cavriana (1536–1606), a doctor and spy at the court of France during the wars of religion. In doing so, it explores the cultural context, interrogates the philosophical assumptions, and analyzes the rhetorical strategies that enable sixteenth-century physicians to extend their expertise to the contested field of statecraft. It argues that, in their persuasive efforts to gain authority in affairs of state, these elite doctors rejuvenated the language of political analysis through a repurposing of notions drawn from medical epistemology.