Thursday, 20 October 2011

More on the bibliothèque bleue

One of the productions of the Bibliothèque bleue, published at Troyes

Martine, from the Poverest class, has sent this link for finding out more about the bibliothèque bleue. Click on 'Patrimoine' at the top of the page and go to 'livres de colportages'. Then click on 'tout voir'. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The invention of Germany

Listen here for the first of Misha Glenny's fascinating programmes on German history. It deals with the Thirty Years' War so it should be familiar to you!

Monday, 17 October 2011

The crisis of the seventeenth century

The middle years of the seventeenth century saw a scale of disruption, social as well as political, that has caused some historians to write about a ‘seventeenth-century crisis’. It was a period of poor climate, bad harvests and food shortages but can these alone account for the widespread disorder?

From around 1640 major upheavals occurred in Scotland, Ireland, England, Catalonia and Portugal; in 1647 in Naples and Sicily; in 1648 and 1660 in Denmark; from 1648 to the early 1650s in France; from 1648 in Poland and Muscovy; from 1652 in Sweden.

It wasn't Galileo, it was Thomas Harriott

All these years I've been teaching people wrong! On 26 July 1609 the English polymath Thomas Harriot became the first person to look at a celestial object through a telescope. Harriot pointed his simple ‘Dutch trunke’ telescope at the Moon on 26th July 1609, making simple drawings of our nearest astronomical neighbour from his house in Syon Park in what is now West London. He made his pioneering drawings several months before Galileo

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Literacy and education

A hornbook was a primer  for children consisting of a sheet containing the letters of the alphabet, mounted on wood, bone, leather or stone and protected by a thin sheet of transparent horn or mica.ption
This post owes a great deal to David Cressy, ‘Literacy in context: meaning and measurement in early modern England’ in John Brewer and Roy Porter (eds), Consumption and the World of Goods (Routledge, 1993), 306) and to Margaret Spufford's famous and ground-breaking, Small Books and Pleasant Histories (Methuen 1981).

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Princess and the Philosopher

You can find more information about Princess Elizabeth of the Palatinate (1618-80)  and her correspondence with René Descartes on Wikipedia - also  here. and here.

Some scholars think she was in love with Descartes. Philosophers admire her for the way she criticised his philosophy of dualism.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Scientific Revolution

[Above is a depiction of Louis XIV visiting the French Academy of Sciences in 1671.]
‘Religion provided a universal mode of thinking and of expression which pervaded all aspects of life in seventeenth-century Europe…For the great majority, strict conformity was both natural and unquestioned. Yet historians agree that this period also marked a crucial stage in the emancipation of the human mind from the blindly accepted dogma and intellectual traditions of the past.’ Thomas Munck, Seventeenth-Century Europe (Palgrave, 2005), 287.
The decline of the devil
The middle decades of the century saw a subtle yet significant shift as the primary source of danger came to be seen not as the devil but as human sin and weakness. Stories about divine judgement did not go away but they became marginalized. There was a growing scepticism about hell and eternal torments. This does not mean that religion was less important and it is misleading to see the period as witnessing a growing secularism.