Dr Sara Miglietti

Contact details

Dr Sara Miglietti
PhD Philosophy 2012 (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa); PhD Renaissance Studies 2016 (University of Warwick)
Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Intellectual History
Warburg Institute
Woburn Square WC1H 0AB London
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Classics, Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Early Modern, History, History of the book, Language and Literature (French), Language and Literature (Italian), Manuscript studies, Philosophy, Politics
Research keywords:
Intellectual History, Renaissance Studies, Translation Studies, Book History, History of Political Thought, Environmental Humanitiies, History of Philosophy
Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, United Kingdom
Summary of research interests and expertise:

I am an intellectual historian with primary expertise in Renaissance and early-modern Europe (esp. Italy and France). My interests include the history of political thought, natural and moral philosophy, book history, translation studies, the relationship between Latin and vernacular cultures, Christian theology, and the history of environmental ideas. In 2013 I published a genetic edition with Italian translation of Jean Bodin's "Methodus ad facilem historiarum cognitionem" (1566-1572). Recent publications include a special issue of History of European Ideas on "Reading Publics in Renaissance Europe" (2016, with Sarah Parker), the edited volume "Governing the Environment in the Early Modern World" (Routledge 2017, with John Morgan), and a special issue of Modern Language Notes on "Climates Past and Present: Perspectives from Early Modern France" (2017). I am currently working on two books: one on early-modern theories of environmental influence and their relationship to modern forms of geographic "determinism"; the other one on bilingual writing in 16th- and 17th-century France, looking at philosophers, theologians, doctors and scientists who translated their own works across Latin and French, and asking how, why, and for whom these authors pursued the practice of self-translation, and what this practice tells us about changing language dynamics and (trans)national cultures in early modern Europe.

Spoken Written
French Fluent Fluent
Spanish - Fluent
German - Intermediate
Italian Fluent Fluent
Latin - Fluent
Portuguese - Intermediate
Other: Classical Greek - Intermediate reading knowledge Dutch - basic reading knowledge
Publication Details

Publications available on SAS-space:

Date Details
Feb-2019 "En langage latin et françoys communiqué": Antoine Mizauld's Astrometeorological Self-Translations


This article explores the phenomenon of philosophical and scientific self-translation in sixteenth-century France, focusing on the «astrophile» physician Antoine Mizauld (c. 1512-1578) who, in the 1540s and 1550s, translated several of his own astrometeorological works from French into Latin. By paying as much attention to the textual and paratextual features of Mizauld’s self-translations as to Mizauld’s cultural milieus, marketing strategies, and possible goals in self-translating, the article aims at studying Renaissance self-translation not only as a literary practice but also as a social practice of cultural mediation, shaped by contextual pressures such as book market dynamics, changing reading publics, and the political implications of language use in a time of nation-building.

Jan-2018 Sovereignty, Territory, and Population in Jean Bodin's "République"


This article offers a re-interpretation of Jean Bodin’s Six livres de la République (1576), a work that deeply transformed European political discourse at the time of the French Wars of Religion and that had important repercussions on the later ‘reason of state’ tradition. Highlighting the ties between Bodin’s definition of sovereignty in Book 1 and his discussion of demographic growth and territorial expansion in Books 4, 5, and 6, the article shows that Bodin’s critical contribution to early modern political thought, far from being limited to his reframing of the juristic concept of souveraineté or maiestas, extends to his novel understanding of the territory as a non-juridical ‘technologie politique’ (Michel Foucault). Through an examination of Bodin’s work and its later reception, the article argues that Bodin’s insights about territorial and demographic matters played a fundamental role in the early modern ‘territorialisation de la politique’ (Romain Descendre), in that they helped redefine the very terms in which the notion of territory would be understood and discussed in the following decades.

Mar-2015 An Eighteenth-Century Thought Experiment on Climate Change: Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's "De ignis seu caloris certa portione Heluetiae adsignata" (1708)


Johann Jakob Scheuchzer’s De ignis seu caloris certa portione Heluetiae adsignata (1708) is one of a series of scientific papers that the prominent Swiss physician and naturalist (1672-1733) sent to the Royal Society in the early 1700s. This particular essay provides an original contribution to physico-theological thought. Unlike most natural-theological works, it emphasises the dangers of human intervention in nature. As an early modern thought-experiment on climate warming and its expected consequences on Alpine and European ecosystems, it seems to anticipate modern anxiety over climate change. But it is also a fine piece of Neo-Latin mountain-writing in the tradition of earlier authors such as Henricus Glareanus (1488-1563) and Conrad Gesner (1516-1565). This article offers the first edition of De ignis seu caloris certa portione, based on Scheuchzer’s autograph in the Royal Society collections in London. Scheuchzer’s text is accompanied by an English translation, a full textual commentary, a short biography of the author, and an appendix providing the details of Scheuchzer’s papers and letters to the Royal Society for 1703-1708.

Aug-2010 Amitié, harmonie et paix politique chez Aristote et Jean Bodin


La crise politique et religieuse de la seconde moitié du xvie siècle ouvre la voie en France à un débat enflammé concernant les limites du pouvoir souverain et le rôle du peuple au sein de l’État. Dans les Six livres de la République (1576), Jean Bodin développe un programme de réforme éthico-politique envisageant l’amitié entre les citoyens comme pierre angulaire de l’État. Bien que s’inspirant largement des réflexions d’Aristote sur le même sujet (Éthique à Nicomaque, Politique), il remplace toutefois la théorie aristotélicienne de l’amitié-égalité (laquelle entraîne chez le Stagirite une vision égalitariste de la société et un net refus de la monarchie) par une nouvelle théorie de l’amitié-harmonie qui lui permet de justifier la nature hiérarchique et monarchique de sa « République bien ordonnée ».

Jun-2010 "Justice et liberté". Des volontaires italiens en Catalogne (1936-1937)


Analyse de l'expérience des volontaires italiens de "Giustizia e Libertà" dans la Guerre Civile d'Espagne à travers leurs reportages de guerre, carnets personnels et lettres privées, pour faire ressortir le caractère existentiel et philosophique de leur militantisme

Jan-2016 Debating Greatness from Machiavelli to Burton


From early humanist treatises on city government in Italy to Rousseau’s "Social Contract", “greatness” (grandezza, grandeza, grandeur) was often presented as both the aim that political communities should pursue and the touchstone to measure their relative success. But what exactly should be understood by “greatness”, and how could it be achieved? Although most authors agreed that it took more than a large territory for a state to be truly “great”, they all seemed to prioritise different things: political liberty, military strength, material wealth, absence of strife, a solid social and political order, or the happiness and overall wellbeing of the citizens. In an age of state- and empire-building, the debate on the nature of political “greatness” raised critical questions and contributed to shaping the agenda and the self-representation of European powers. By concentrating on a few selected thinkers (Machiavelli, Bodin, Botero, Bacon, Burton) whose works form a complex network of mutual influences, this chapter seeks to investigate an exemplary case of unceasing dialogue between the Renaissance and the early modern period.

New Worlds, Ancient Theories: Reshaping Climate Theory in the Early Colonial Atlantic


Jul-2019 Climate Theory: An Invented Tradition?


The article responds to recent claims that the term ‘climate’ was never used in a physical or meteorological sense until the mid-eighteenth century, and that consequently the notion of 'climate theory' (often used to denote doctrines of environmental influence from Antiquity to the Enlightenment) is an anachronistic scholarly construct to be avoided at all costs. The article discusses a number of ancient and early modern examples to show that the pre-modern meaning of ‘climate’ (in its various linguistic forms) was richer than is sometimes assumed, and that a physical and/or meteorological usage of the term was in fact not completely alien to pre- modern writers. The article also raises broader methodological questions, asking whether it may be legitimate to use ‘etic’ (observer-oriented) rather than ‘emic’ (actor-oriented) categories to study the history of climate ideas.

Jan-2020 Jean Bodin on Action and Contemplation: A Reappraisal


This essay offers a new interpretation of Bodin’s stance on the classic issue of action and contemplation -- a vexata quaestio of Bodinian scholarship that takes us to the heart of Bodin's views on ethics, politics, and theology. Taking into account the entire arc of Bodin's production, from the Methodus to the Paradoxon, the article considers Bodin's changing views on the 'best form of life' and argues that towards the end of his life Bodin came to redefine completely the problem by positing a third stage of human experience, which he called "reflection" (actus reflexus in Latin, reflexion in French) and described as the passive enjoyment of God's light reflected in the human soul as in a mirror. The article explores how Bodin's theory of reflection relates to his theology and spirituality, on the one hand, and to his ethical views on the other. By raising the question of Bodin’s sources for this theory, the article also uncovers his profound debts to late-medieval Scholasticism and Christian mysticism, especially that of Nicholas of Cusa.

Jan-2020 Between Nature and Culture: The Integrated Ecology of Renaissance Climate Theories


This essay examines French Renaissance “climate theories” as a privileged locus for rethinking the relationship between “nature” and “culture” in a dynamic and non-dualistic way (B. Latour). Climate theories, first advanced in ancient Greece by authors such as Hippocrates and Aristotle, were widely invoked in the Renaissance to explain temperamental differences among individuals as well as cultural and ethnic differences among human collectives. While scholars often bring such theories together under the umbrella term of “climatic determinism”, this article argues that Renaissance climate theories are in fact predominantly anti-deterministic, as they acknowledge the possibility for humans to shield themselves from climate’s influence in a variety of ways, including diet, music, and a liberal education. Far from postulating an absolute power of “nature” over “culture”, Renaissance climate theories draw attention to the peculiar “epistemic space” (lieu epistémique, J.-B. Fressoz) in-between nature and culture, as they seek to illuminate the mutually-constitutive interactions between the two. Thus, climate theories also shed light on the radical embeddedness of humans in nature, helping us to evisage man not as “external to nature” and standing in a relation of “domination or opposition” to it, but as deeply inscribed in natural processes (C. Larrère). Building on foundational scholarship by Bruno Latour and others, this essay proposes an analysis of some better- and lesser-known examples of French Renaissance climate theories (e.g. Louis Le Roy, Jean Bodin, Nicolas Abraham de La Framboisière) in order to reflect on what the “environmental reflexivity” of early modern societies can bring to a new “integrated ecology” of nature and human culture (J.-B. Fressoz, C. Larrère).

Jan-2017 Introduction: Ruling "Climates" in the Early Modern World


Introduction to Sara Miglietti and John Morgan (eds). Governing the Environment in the Early Modern World: Theory and Practice. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017

Jan-2016 Botero, Giovanni


Encyclopedia entry

Jan-2019 Nicodemism


Encyclopedia entry

Apr-2022 Jean Bodin: une pensée en mouvement. Etude des variantes entre les deux rédactions de la Methodus (1566, 1572)


Cette étude porte sur l’évolution de la théorie politique de Jean Bodin entre 1566 et 1576, une période tout à fait décisive pour le penseur angevin, notamment par rapport au développement de ses idées sur la nature et les limites de la souveraineté. C'est dans cette période que Bodin change d'avis sur certains points-clés de sa théorie politique : passage d’un concept de souveraineté comme fonction juridictionnelle à celui de souveraineté comme fonction législative ; découverte ou clarification des « marques » de perpétuité, indivisibilité et autonomie comme propres du véritable pouvoir souverain ; mise à point d’une distinction claire entre potestas (puissance publique, de nature juridico-politique) et dominium (puissance privée, de nature économique-propriétaire). L'étude comparée des deux rédactions de la Methodus (1566, 1572) par rapport à la première République (1576) montre que cette évolution se fit de manière graduelle et pour des raisons qui ont affaire à la logique interne de la pensée bodinienne tout autant, sinon plus, qu’aux circonstances historiques dans lesquelles Bodin écrivait ses œuvres.

Un Caso Di Autotraduzione Medico-Scientifica Nel Rinascimento: Il Pourtraict De La Santé / Diaeteticon Polyhistoricon Di Joseph Duchesne (1606)


Medico paracelsiano alla corte di Enrico IV e prolifico autore di testi di medicina e di filosofia naturale, il calvinista Joseph Duchesne, detto anche Quercetanus (c. 1544 – 1609), è noto da tempo agli storici della medicina e della scienza per il contributo fondamentale che portò alla diffusione del paracelsismo e della nuova filosofica chimica in Francia a cavallo tra Cinque e Seicento. Molto meno noto è il suo doppio trattato di dietetica del 1606, uscito quasi simultaneamente in francese (Le Pourtraict de la santé) e in latino (Diaeteticon polyhistoricon), e rimasto ancora relativamente inesplorato dalla critica. Si tratta tuttavia di un testo di eccezionale interesse, in particolar modo per la sua natura di testo autotradotto. Il presente contributo si propone di riesaminare brevemente il «dittico» di Duchesne sotto il profilo della sua dimensione bilingue, traendo qualche conclusione preliminare sulle strategie autotraduttive di Duchesne e sui suoi possibili obiettivi.

Jun-2020 Environmental Ethics For A Fallen World: Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672–1733) And The Boundaries Of Human Agency


This article traces the formation of a (self-)critical discourse around human environmental agency in early Enlightenment Europe, focusing on the Swiss naturalist Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672–1733) and the Royal Society milieus to which he was connected. In manuscript and printed writings, and particularly in his beautifully illustrated Physica sacra (1731–1735), Scheuchzer used a combination of biblical exegesis, thought experiments, and ecological insights to reflect about the relationship between God, humankind, and nature. Against claims that the tradition of natural theology in which Scheuchzer belonged “prevented and delayed the acknowledgment of the earth as vulnerable” (Kempe 2003b, p. 166), the article shows how different thinkers could use the Bible to support competing claims regarding the role of humans as agents in God’s creation. While some authors enthusiastically upheld contemporary ideologies of environmental ‘improvement’, others—including Scheuchzer himself—called for greater self-restraint and developed a biblically-grounded form of precautionary environmental ethics.

Publications available on SAS-space

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:


Writing Bilingually, 1465–1700: Self-Translated Books in Italy and France Warburg Institute
Project period: 04-Jan-2023 - 31-Mar-2026

Research interests: Cultural memory, History of the book, Language and Literature (French), Language and Literature (Italian)

Antiquity and Its Uses: Reception and Renewal

A programme of meetings, mutual visits, and exchanges (including both academic staff and PhD students) around the topic ‘Antiquity and its Uses: Reception and Renewal’, between Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance and Johns Hopkins University's Charles Singleton Center for Pre-Modern History. The project ran between 2015-2017. PI: David Lines (Warwick). CIs Ingrid De Smet (Warwick), Sara Miglietti (JHU), Eugenio Refini (JHU)

The Empire of Climate, c. 1550-c. 1750

This project examines the long history of 'climate theories' (i.e. theories of environmental influence) and the ways in which people in early modern Europe sought to cope with the perceived impact of place and climate on their character and behaviour. The results will be shared in a book tentatively entitled 'The Empire of Climate: Early Modern Climate Theories and the Problem of Human Agency'. This book will offer the first monographic discussion of climate theories and their practical applications in medicine, colonial expansion, and environmental engineering, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. A spin-off of this project looks at the ethical and theological implications of environmental intervention in early modern Europe, focusing on the work of natural theologians such as William Derham and Johann Jakob Scheuchzer.

Writing Bilingually, 1465-1700: Self-Translated Books in Italy and France

LEVERHULME PROJECT GRANT RPG-2022-221 (January 2023-March 2026, £344,547), PI Sara Miglietti

Early modern Europe was a multilingual world: while Latin was still the lingua franca of international scholarly exchanges, vernacular languages were increasingly being used for both literary and scientific endeavours. Mediating between these realms were legions of translators, but also a surprisingly large number of authors who chose to translate their own works, mainly between Latin and a vernacular. This project aims to produce the first annotated repertory and analysis of prose self-translations printed in Italy and France between 1465 and 1700, asking how, why, and in what contexts they were produced and what impact they had at the time.

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
The Passions Across Mind, Body and Soul: Transforming the Theory of Emotion in Seventeenth Century England

Daniel Samuel - in progress

Women in Arms: Female Warriors in Italian art, 1500-1700

Elisa Stafferini - in progress

Scientific Instruments and Clocks in a Florentine Workshop: the Della Volpaia Family

Marisa Addomine - in progress

Giovanni Pontano's Convivial Humanism: The Art of Living Together in Quattrocento Naples

George Brocklehurst - in progress

The Renaissance of Platonic Theurgy from Ficino to Agrippa

Merlin Cox - in progress

Pierre Gassendi and the Epicurean Anatomists, 1620-1680

Guillermo Willis (deferred start January 2021)

Reformations after the Reformation: Defining Protestantism and Reformed Catholicism in France, 1580-1616

Claire Konieczny (Johns Hopkins University) - in progress

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
International Association for Neo-Latin Studies Member
Renaissance Society of America Discipline Representative for Philosophy
Renaissance Society of America Member


Name Type Activity Start date End date
De Gruyter book series "Renaissance Mind: Studies on the History of Knowledge" Advisory board member 2022
Brepols book series "Warwick Studies in Renaissance Thought and Culture" Advisory board member 2021
From East to West, and Back Again: Student Travel and Transcultural Knowledge Production in Renaissance Europe (c. 1470- c. 1620) Advisory board 2020
The Archaeology of Reading Advisory board 2015 2019
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
01-Feb-2019 Interventions: The Intellectual History Podcast

Episode on "Bodin, self-translation, and the environment in early modern Europe"

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