This work examines the contrasts and shifts in fortune experienced in 17th-century Italy. The book begins with an analysis of political developments, placing the Italian states in their wider context. The state of the economy and the far-reaching transformations it underwent are then considered. Also examined are society, religion and culture, in particular the influence of the Counter Reformation on Italian life. The text concludes with an account of Galileo's work and trial, and an overview of the contributions made by other scientists in the later part of the century.