Leonardo Ariel Carrió Cataldi

Leonardo Ariel Carrió Cataldi

Berenson Fellow
Iberian Science “made in Veneto?": New Worlds and Renaissance traditions in the Iberian Peninsula


Leonardo Ariel Carrió Cataldi received a PhD in History from L'École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) jointly through the European doctoral programme ‘Europe and the Invention of Modernity.’ His dissertation dealt with early modern cosmography and its relationship to different conceptions of time in the framework of the Iberian monarchies. His research focuses on the early modern Portuguese and Spanish empires through the lens of the history of science and technology. He has taught at various institutions, and has been a fellow at the John Carter Brown Library, the Centre Alexandre-Koyré (EHES-CNRS, Paris), and the European University Institute.

Project Summary

In historical scholarship, the Spanish ‘discovery’ of the Americas and the Portuguese ‘discovery’ of a route to the Indian Ocean, both in the 1490s, are often presented as a moment of epistemic crisis. This interpretation, rooted in a supposed clash between ‘Ancients’ (the Greek and Roman writers of classical antiquity) and ‘Moderns’ (voyagers, astronomers, and others exploring ‘New Worlds’), obscures a vital form of knowledge circulation in the early modern Mediterranean: the transmission of neo-Platonic and Aristotelian ideas from Northern Italy to Iberian centers of cosmography and mathematics. Drawing upon methodological and theoretical tools of history of science, intellectual history, and the history of the book, this project explores how different important Iberian libraries were assembled, and traces the circulation of key books and their impact on the writing of cosmographical and mathematical treatises in Iberia between the middle of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century. It uses cases to evaluate how, in a moment of epistemological challenges caused by the discoveries of the New World, Iberian cosmographers and mathematicians integrated different traditions of the Renaissance in their texts and the physical spaces of their libraries.