Davide Martino

PhD Candidate

I am a PhD candidate at St John's College, supervised by Dr Richard Serjeantson.
My research on 'Hydraulic philosophy in three early modern European cities' is generously funded by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

From September 2021 to February 2022, I am an Associate Researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History (ACUH), Universiteit van Amsterdam.
From April to July 2021, I was a Visiting Student at the Department of History and Civilisation of the European University Institute (EUI), Florence.
From October to December 2020, I was a Gastwissenschaftler (Visiting Scholar) at the Institut für Europäische Kulturgeschichte of the Universität Augsburg.
In 2020–21, I was a co-convenor of the Cambridge postgraduate Workshop for the Early Modern Period (WEMP).

I completed my History BA (2016) and an Early Modern History MPhil (2017) at Cambridge. Prior to starting the PhD I worked as a primary school teacher for two years, and I remain passionate about the role of education in society.

My PhD is a study of hydraulic philosophy, that is, of the branch of early modern natural philosophy concerned with water. Both the production of hydraulic knowledge and its practical application happened in context; my thesis focuses on one of these contexts, early modern European cities. Three case-studies—Augsburg, Florence, and Amsterdam—are approached from an interdisciplinary perspective. First, borrowing from environmental history, urban centres are understood as terraqueous sites, where humans interacted with the surrounding environment, and viceversa. Second, the tools of art and cultural history are essential to understand the passion for fountains, hydraulic displays, and 'giochi d'acqua' which seized princely courts and mercantile polities alike. Third, the history of science and technology can explain how hydraulic machinery functioned, and how it developed over time.

Other interests include architectural history, global history, and innovative methodologies for the environmental humanities.

I offer undergraduate supervisions for Part I Paper 16 ('European history, 1450-1750') as well as classes for HAP ('Historical Argument and Practice').

In 2019, I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in 'Leadership in Learning - Primary'. I obtained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in July 2018, and completed my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year in July 2019. Since 2020, I have mentored trainee teachers with the charity Insegnare per l'Italia - Teach for Italy.

‘Liquid streets: early modern waterways in urban spaces’ - Colloquium ‘A Rua na Estrutura Urbana | The Street in the City Structure’ - Faculdade de Letras de Universidade do Porto - Porto, Portugal, 11–13/11/2021.

‘Harnessing turbulent rivers: Augsburg, the Lech and the Wertach, c. 1450–1750’ - Panel on ‘German Citites in Turbulent Times’ sponsored by the Environmental Studies Network - 45th Annual Conference of the German Studies Association (GSA) - Indianapolis/online, 02/10/2021.

‘Turning a (blind) wet eye: confessional heterodoxy among hydraulic experts’ - 8th annual workshop, DAAD-Cambridge Hub funded Network Religious Knowledge in the Early Modern World, Universität Tübingen & University of Cambridge - online, 14/09/2021.

‘The sources of early modern hydraulic philosophy’ - History of Science Working Group, Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute (EUI) - Florence, 16/06/2021.

‘Agostino del Riccio and early modern hydraulic philosophy' - Early modernists’ group meeting, Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute (EUI) - online, 08/06/2021.

Chair of ‘Food in colonial contexts’ panel - 2nd EUI Conference in Visual and Material Culture Studies, ‘Scandalous Feasts and Holy Meals: Food in Medieval and Early Modern Societies’ - online, 25–26/05/2021.

'Neptune and the Lech: The co-creation of borders in early modern Augsburg' - Monthly seminar of the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History (ACUH), Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) - online, 15/04/2021.

'From tunnel to tower: The transfer of hydraulic expertise from mines to cities in early modern Europe' - Panel on ‘Subterranean Fictions: early modern underworlds and otherworlds’ - RSA Virtual 2021: The 67th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) - online, 13/04/2021.

‘Neptune and the Lech: An environmental history of the borders of early modern Augsburg’ - Postgraduate Conference of the German Historical Institute in London (GHIL) - online, 07/01/2021.

‘The lost fountains of Augsburg’ - International Researchers’ Scientific Talks, Universität Augsburg - online, 05/11/2020.

‘Who designed Weimar Castle?’ - Early Modern History Graduate Workshop (EMHGW) - Cambridge, 13/07/2020.

‘Crossing the Alps in the seventeenth century: the religious, linguistic, and gastronomic horizons of the de’ Servi family’ - Workshop on Migration & Multiculturalism (Cambridge Migration Research Network) - Cambridge, 06/03/2017.

Staged an adaptation of L. Pirandello’s Il gioco delle parti (1918) at the conference of The Society for Pirandello Studies - Christ Church College, Oxford, 15/10/2016.


Tags & Themes


St John's College


Key publications

'The 1618 Reconstruction Plan of the Weimar Residenzschloss by Costantino de’ Servi' in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 83:2 (June 2020), 213-235. https://doi.org/10.1515/ZKG-2020-2003