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Giovanni Boccaccio's Mysterious Death (Hardback)

A New Diagnosis for the Great Medieval Poet and Writer

Medieval History P&S History Medieval

By Francesco M. Galassi, Dr Michael Papio, Dr Giovanni Spani
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 16 b/w
ISBN: 9781526716477
Published: 30th November 2022

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RRP £19.99

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Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), was one of the greatest poets and writers of the Middle Ages (counted, alongside Petrarch and Dante, as one of Italy’s ‘Three Crowns’). His many works, including his masterpiece, the Decameron, played a fundamental role in the history of literature and ideas throughout the Renaissance and influenced other famous writers, such as Chaucer, Cervantes and Shakespeare.

Giovanni Boccaccio’s fatal disease and cause of death have long remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, a thorough multidisciplinary reassessment has finally been carried out. By combining philological and clinical approaches, the authors have at last offered a solid retrospective diagnosis based upon a study of his correspondence, poetry and iconography, as well as references to his physical decay in contemporary and later sources. In so doing they cast a light not only on Boccaccio’s life and death but on living conditions, health and medical knowledge in late Medieval and early Renaissance Europe. The authors also address the enigma of the whereabouts of Boccaccio’s remains, which they hope to locate and examine in future.

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About Francesco M. Galassi

Francesco Maria Galassi, MD, is a paleopathologist at Zurich University’s Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, where he serves as Assistant and Principal Investigator of the Italian Paleopathology Project. He graduated from the University of Bologna and has collected research experiences at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. Besides studying osteological remains and mummies, he specialises in the analysis of ancient texts in order to identify the historical presentation and evolution of diseases throughout history. Amongst his most acclaimed studies, the causes of death of Alaric I and Giovanni Boccaccio. Aged only 27, Francesco Galassi is one of the youngest palaeopathologists in the world and already an expert in the field of palaeomedicine. Francesco’s studies have received worldwide attention in quality papers such Forbes Magazine, The Guardian, The Telegraph and he regularly features in the press and radio-TV programs as commentator of paleopathological research.


About Dr Michael Papio

Michael Papio, PhD, is Professor and Director of Italian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA), and former President of the American Boccaccio Association.


About Dr Giovanni Spani

Giovanni Spani, PhD is Associate Professor of Italian at The College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA, USA).

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Julius Caesar’s Disease (Hardback)

It is generally accepted as a historical fact that Julius Caesar suffered from epilepsy, an illness which in classical times was sometimes associated with divinely bestowed genius. The ancient sources describe several episodes when, sometimes at critical junctures, one of the most famous military commanders in history was incapacitated by his illness referred to as morbus comitialis. But does the evidence really fit with the diagnosis of epilepsy? And if it was not epilepsy that afflicted Caesar, then what was it? These are the questions that doctors Galassi and Ashrafian seek to answer by applying…

By Hutan Ashrafian, Francesco M. Galassi

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