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The Bookseller of Florence

The Bookseller of Florence

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Ross King
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A gripping story of ancient wisdom, new technology and 'the king of the world's booksellers', set in Renaissance Florence

A gripping story of ancient wisdom, new technology and 'the king of the world's booksellers', set in Renaissance Florence

In the mid-1400s, Vespasiano da Bisticci's bookshop in Florence was said to contain all the wisdom of the world. Vespasiano and his team of scribes and illuminators produced exquisite manuscripts for popes and princes across Europe, rediscovering and disseminating some of the most significant texts from classical antiquity. At his shop, the most formidable minds of the city would gather to debate these old ideas of revolutionary power.

But in 1476 a new technology arrived in Florence. The convent of San Jacopo di Ripoli, a community of Dominican nuns on the other side of the city, acquired a printing press from a bankrupt German printer. Before long, with the enterprising nuns working tirelessly as typesetters, the Ripoli Press began printing a series of books and pamphlets that triggered an explosion of ideas in politics, philosophy and religion.