The Early Modern European Palaces of the Qianlong Emperor

These works represent an artistic encounter between East and West. A Controversial Auction In 2009, two eighteenth-century Chinese bronze sculptures — one representing a rat’s head and the other a rabbit’s — sold at a Christie’s auction in Paris for $40.4 million. Soon afterwards, the art world watched, stunned, as the winning bidder, Cai Mingchao,[…]

Crossing Borders Across Venetian, Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, 1500-1800

How the Ottoman, Habsburg, and Venetian empires interacted with each other and how their competition over southeastern Europe shaped these borderlands and their inhabitants? Introduction Between 1500 and 1800, three empires—Ottoman, Habsburg, and Venetian—competed for the lands and seas of southeast Europe. The arrival of Suleyman the Magnificent to the gates of Vienna in 1529[…]

The “Souls” of Magnets in the 17th Century

Lodestones are dull, lumpy, and slate-gray, but their “magnetic intelligence” made them fabulously expensive. Magnets have souls. At least, that was the leading scientific explanation for magnetism circa 1600, as laid out in the highly influential De Magnete. Its author, William Gilbert, experimented with lodestones, lumps of magnetite that, after being struck by lightning, turn into natural magnets.[…]

“The Godly Greedy Appetite”: New Religious Relic Circulation in the Early Modern World

England became one of the greatest producers of new Catholic relics during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Abstract Having lost all monasteries and a good deal of its medieval Christian movable assets, England became one of the greatest producers of new Catholic relics during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This article aims to look, from[…]

Imagine Nation: How Pocket Maps Helped Poets and Subjects Reenvision England

A GPS for sixteenth-century travelers. By Mary Alexandra Agner Like many other familiar objects, the road map has been transformed by digital technology. From unfoldable glove-compartment staple to robotically voiced GPS system, maps have become more portable, easier to hold, and just plain different. Whether or not we pause to reflect on it, these gadgets[…]

Robert Hooke: The ‘English Leonardo’ Who Was a 17th-Century Scientific Superstar

Born on July 18, 1635, this polymath broke ground in fields ranging from pneumatics, microscopy, mechanics and astronomy to civil engineering and architecture. Introduction Considering his accomplishments, it’s a surprise that Robert Hooke isn’t more renowned. As a physician, I especially esteem him as the person who identified biology’s most essential unit, the cell. Like Leonardo[…]

‘Spanish Atlanteans’: Crisis of Empire and Reconstruction of Spanish Monarchy, 1672-1740

A new national imaginary emerged that legitimized the task of redefinition. With variations, a concern with origins dominated Spain’s introspection in the eighteenth century. As a result of a internal crisis, the Spanish Monarchy underwent a process of redefinition between the end of the seventeenth century and the decade of the 1740s. By synthesizing traditional[…]

The Myth of Blubber Town, an Arctic Metropolis

Though the 17th-century whaling station of Smeerenburg was in reality, at its height, just a few dwellings and structures for processing blubber, over the decades and centuries a more extravagant picture took hold — that there once had stood, defying its far-flung Arctic location, a bustling urban centre complete with bakeries, churches, gambling dens, and[…]

Religious Change and the Ottoman Empire, 1450-1750

How did the Ottomans shape the political and religious history of early modern Europe? Introduction The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and longest-lasting empires in world history, stretching across the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Northern Africa at its zenith in the sixteenth century. Many European observers of the time experienced and depicted[…]

Religious Wars in Early Modern Europe

The splintering of the medieval church ushered in a volatile new era of increased anxiety, tension, and religious fervor during. Introduction For nearly 150 years, the battle for “true” Christianity tore early modern Europe apart. The spiritual divisions created by the Protestant Reformation led to a series of international and domestic conflicts that caused incalculable destruction and[…]

Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

Although magic and witchcraft had existed since antiquity, early modern Europe underwent a growth in anxiety about witches and their practices. Introduction Historians have named the era in Europe that lasted from about 1500 to 1650 the age of the “Witch Hunts.” During this period approximately 100,000 people went on trial for the crime of[…]

“Such Fictitious Evil Spirits”: Adriaan Koerbagh’s Rejection of Biblical Demons and Demonic Possession, 1668

The devil, once a part of the sacred truth, could now be seen as a fragment of a human cultural heritage. Introduction This paper traces Adriaan Koerbagh’s interpretation of biblical devils and scriptural instances of demonic possession in his 1668 Een Ligt Schijnende in Duystere Plaatsen (A light shining in dark places). Koerbagh’s book is a radical[…]

These Early Modern Gravity-Defying Sculptures Provoked Accusations of Demonic Possession

Demons and artists, it seems, pull from the same bag of tricks. They take ordinary matter and transform it into something more wondrous, more terrifying. Around 1737, the Italian sculptor Francesco Bertos was hauled before the Inquisition. The charge: He had colluded with the Devil to produce his latest set of gravity-defying marble statues. According to[…]

Medicine in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Islamic World

In the 17th century, early modern European medical theory had an impact upon Islamic medicine through the writings of the Paracelsians. As the Islamic world became increasingly fragmented, the patronage and accompanying prestige and security enjoyed by the leading physicians declined. Spain was lost, European crusaders made repeated invasions into the central lands, and in[…]

China and Hong Kong in the Canton Trade System

After their victory in the first Opium War, the British acquired Hong Kong under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. Hong Kong held 3,000 Chinese scattered in small fishing villages until the mid 19th century. The city itself is a small island in the mouth of the Pearl River, 76 miles southeast of Canton. Its waterfall[…]

The Narrow World of the Artists of China’s Early Modern Canton Trade System

The new vistas of China available after the development of the East India trade attracted many Chinese and foreign artists. John Webber (1750–1793) accompanied Captain Cook on his third voyage to the South Seas and visited Macau in 1779, publishing his book Views in the South Seas in 1780. Thomas Daniell (1749–1840) and his nephew[…]

Some Like It Hot: Sex and the Sauna in Early Modern Sweden

In early modern Sweden bathing was a part of everyday life. There were public and private hot-steam baths, or saunas. Modern iterations of the sauna – and especially the gay sauna – have been highlighted as spaces where societal norms might be transcended and at the same time moral anxiety heightened. What is less recognized today is that the[…]

Sexual Curiosities? Aphrodisiacs in Early Modern England

The word aphrodisiac only began to be used to describe such foods in the late seventeenth century. The word aphrodisiac conjures images of oysters and chocolate, or perhaps peppers to ‘spice things up’. Nearly everyone knows that these foods have a long history of being considered aphrodisiacs. Yet it is worth devoting a little more[…]

Culture Shock: An Analysis of Early Modern Europe through Arts and Literature

Examining the cultural heritage of Early Modern Europe and its influence in contemporary thought. By Angel Solis, Mariah Radue, and Nora Katz Introduction The content included here is directly related to the strong influence of the cultural heritage of Early Modern Europe in the Western world and the importance of these documents and works as[…]

The Spread of Knowledge via Print in Early Modern Europe

By the end of the fifteenth century, the majority of Western European cities had a printing press. By Richelle McDaniel Introduction While printing had already existed for several centuries, Johannes Gutenberg turned the printing world upside down and brought on a new era of print with his revolutionary innovation of movable type in 1445.[1] Movable[…]

Progress in Play: Board Games and the Meaning of History

Players moving pieces along a track to be first to reach a goal was the archetypal board game format of the 18th and 19th century. Alex Andriesse looks at one popular incarnation in which these pieces progress chronologically through history itself, usually with some not-so-subtle ideological, moral, or national ideal as the object of the[…]

Liberty and Property: The Levellers and Locke

The turmoil of the English Civil War in the 1640s and 1650s generated political and institutional upheaval, and stimulated radical thinking about politics. By Dr. Murray N. Rothbard Since the Civil War was fought over religion and politics, much of the new thinking was grounded in, or inspired by, religious principles and visions. Thus, as[…]

George Winstanley’s True Levellers, or Diggers, in Early Modern England

Their original name came from their belief in economic equality. Introduction The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals in England, sometimes seen as forerunners of modern anarchism,[1] and also associated with agrarian socialism[2][3] and Georgism. Gerrard Winstanley’s followers were known as True Levellersin 1649 and later became known as Diggers, because of their attempts to farm on common land. Their original name came from their belief in[…]

Early Modern and Modern Jewish Networks of Communication

These networks formed as a result of the dispersal of Jewish society over great distances starting in antiquity. Abstract Jewish networks are the far-reaching transterritorial and transcultural channels of communication between Jews and Jewries. They formed as a result of the dispersal of Jewish society over great distances starting in antiquity and ran along the[…]

The Reivers: Raids along the Medieval and Early Modern Anglo-Scottish Border

Their heyday was in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stuart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor dynasty in England. Introduction Border reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English[…]

Rich and Poor: Economic Thought from Thomas Aquinas to John Locke and Adam Smith

Starting with the medieval poor/rich-topics in the Aquinian tradition of the theological economy of charity, following a relatively unknown line of thought. Introduction In pre-classical economics, division of income was traditionally represented as an antithesis of rich and poor. Specific income classes were only defined in “classical” economics: landed property owners drew rents, capital investors[…]

Spectral Passages: John Knight and the Voyage of the ‘Hopewell’ in 1606

The vanishing of John Knight and his three companions. Introduction On June 19, 1606, John Knight ran out of options. Several days of jousting with contrary winds, waves and shifting ice floes in the Labrador Sea in his little ship, the Hopewell, had forced him onto the Labrador shore, somewhere north of present-day Nain. Anchored in an[…]