The British Journal for the History of Science

For science and for the Pope-king: writing the history of the exact sciences in nineteenth-century Rome

a1 Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, MIT E56-100, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA


This paper analyses the contents and the style of the Bullettino di bibliografia e di storia delle scienze matematiche e fisiche (1868–1887), the first journal entirely devoted to the history of mathematics. It is argued that its innovative and controversial methodological approach cannot be properly understood without considering the cultural conditions in which the journal was conceived and realized. The style of the Bullettino was far from being the mere outcome of the eccentric personality of its editor, Prince Baldassarre Boncompagni. Rather, it reflected in many ways, at the level of historiography of science, the struggle of the official Roman Catholic culture against the growing secularization of knowledge and society.


1 I thank David Bloor, John Fauvel, John Henry, Ludovica Serratrice, and the anonymous referees for advice and assistance. Research for this paper was made possible through the support of the Dibner Institute and the resources of the Burndy Library. All translations from non-English sources, unless otherwise indicated, are my own.