Raffaele Danna

PhD candidate

I am a PhD candidate in History at the University of Cambridge. I hold an MA (Hons) in Philosophical Sciences (2015) and a BA (Hons) in Philosophy (2013) at the University of Bologna. I am a former student of the University's excellence institution, the Collegio Superiore. I have been a visiting student at the University of California, San Diego (2013-14) and at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa (2015-16).

I am fascinated by the complex intertwining of economic, scientific as well as cultural factors in bringing about historical change. My PhD project, supervised by Professor Craig Muldrew, focuses on the diffusion of the Commercial Revolution from Italy to northern Europe (13th-16th centuries). Relying on a study of the diffusion of commercial mathematics, I aim to track the spread of key innovations characteristic of the early modern European economy. The aim of this project is to concentrate on an overlooked aspect of the heritage of the Renaissance. My broader research interests include Early Modern History, Economic and Social History, the Renaissance, the History of Economic Thought, Intellectual History.

- Paper 14 (2018-19)

- Historical Argument and Practices (2017-18, 2018-19) (The Renaissance, Intellectual History, Cultural History)

- “Figuring out: the spread of Hindu-Arabic numerals in the European tradition of practical mathematics (13th-16th centuries)” Institute of Historical Research, Economic and Social History of the Early Modern World Seminar, 7 February 2020.

- “The adoption of Hindu-Arabic numerals in England and Italy, a comparative perspective (13th-16th c.)”, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Departmental Seminar, University of Cambridge, 7 November 2019.

- “The numeracy revolution and its application to solidaristic institutions in the Italian medieval cities”, summer school Balancing the books. Administration and bookkeeping in premodern charitable and civic agencies, organised by the University of Bologna and the Fondazione del Monte di Bologna, 24-27 June 2019.

- “The spread of Hindu-Arabic numerals in the tradition of European practical mathematics: A socio-economic perspective, 13th-16th centuries”, Economic History Society Conference 2019, Queen’s University Belfast, 5-7 April 2019.

- “The Spread of Hindu-Arabic Numerals in the Tradition of European Practical Mathematics, a Socio-Economic Perspective” Renaissance Society of America Conference, Toronto, 17-19 March 2019.

- “From 1202 Pisa to 1600 London: a Sketch of the European Tradition of Practical Arithmetic” Il Fibonacci e i percorsi mediterranei delle scienze matematiche, University of Naples Federico II, 28-29 November 2018.

- "Hindu-Arabic Numerals and the spread of the Commercial Revolution: 13th-16th Centuries”, Associazione per la Storia Economica Workshop, Bocconi University, Milan, 14-15 September 2018.


Tags & Themes


Pembroke College, Cambridge CB2 1RF


Selected publications

Danna, R., Una scienza per la rinascita. Note su Paolo dell’Abaco e la matematica abacistica fiorentina, Rinascimento (2019), 59, 245-269.

Danna, R. “William Deringer, Calculated Values: Finance, Politics, and the Quantitative Age (Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press)”, Economic History Review (2019), 72(1), 411-412. [book review]