In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Girolamo Cardano

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Overall Studies
  • Medicine
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology
  • Logic
  • Techniques and Arts
  • Writing the Self
  • Religion and Libertinism
  • Life and Works
  • The Trial by the Catholic Inquisition
  • Editions and Translations
  • Manuscripts

Renaissance and Reformation Girolamo Cardano
Marialuisa Baldi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 February 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0344


Cardano (Girolamo, Gerolamo, b. 1501–d. 1576) is an Italian polymath, one of the most prominent authors of the Renaissance. He was not only a physician, mathematician, and astrologer but also a philosopher and a curious researcher of nature, interested in all areas of human knowledge and experience. At the end of his life, he was brought to trial by the Catholic Inquisition, and all his works, except the medical ones, were condemned. Yet his writings in the philosophy of nature, especially the encyclopedic De subtilitate and De rerum varietate, were frequently read until the Enlightenment. For the general public, his name is renowned for some inventions and discoveries as the solution of cubic equations. What we call Cardan joint is named after him. His fascinating autobiography has been translated in many languages. Scholars read him as a radical thinker, crypto-Reformer critic of religions, and a forerunner of the new science still immersed in magic. A more complex image of Cardano has now been emerging, thanks to recent editions and translations of his works. Cardano sensed the crisis of the humanistic tradition in the age of the Counter-Reformation. As then, he still offers tools for understanding what is continuously transforming, and getting closer to the truth.


Cardano’s thought is very difficult to categorize. Given the variety and technical content of many of his writings, the bibliographical tradition has been establishing slowly and has long been focused on some favorite areas of study. The only comprehensive bibliography is Schütze 1998.

  • Eckman, James. “Jerome Cardan.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine Suppl. 7 (1946): 90–112.

    A bibliography of the older literature.

  • Schütze, Ingo, ed. “Bibliografia degli studi su Girolamo Cardano dal 1850 al 1995.” Bruniana & Campanelliana 4 (1998): 449–467.

    A comprehensive bibliography from 1850 to 1995. Expanded and updated online edition.

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