Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720: A Biographical Dictionary

Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720: A Biographical Dictionary

Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720: A Biographical Dictionary

Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720: A Biographical Dictionary

Synopsis

This book--the sixth volume in The Great Cultural Eras of the Western World series--provides information on more than 400 individuals who created and played a role in the era's intellectual and cultural activity. The book's focus is on cultural figures--those whose inventions and discoveries contributed to the scientific revolution, those whose line of reasoning contributed to secularism, groundbreaking artists like Rembrandt, lesser known painters, and contributors to art and music.

Excerpt

Despite the truism that every age is an age of transition, the hindsight of history reveals certain eras to have been periods of radically decisive intellectual change. Such was the seventeenth century in Western Europe. By 1600, the momentum of the Renaissance, whether defined as the birth of a new spirit of creativity or as the slow death of medievalism, was peaking, and the current of religious reformation was in full tide, soon to make itself felt as well in the North American colonies. These and other aspects of the sixteenth century have led to a recent tendency to replace the term “Renaissance” with “Early Modern, ” a label that, while raising problematic issues of its own, nevertheless cautions against artificially rigid divisions in the flux of historical development. The boundaries of historical periods are necessarily permeable, and those of this volume are no different; yet it is fair to say that by 1720 the adjective “modern” no longer requires that we modify it with “early.”

One could perhaps point to 1642, the year of Galileo's death and Newton's birth, as the last chronological juncture between the “old world” and the “new, ” or possibly 1674, the year of poet John Milton's death, the last English literary voice of the Renaissance, as the point of transition from “early modern” to “modern.” However, paraphrasing Virginia Woolf's only half facetious comment upon seeing the 1901 London exhibition of Postimpressionist art, events in 1648 make it tempting to assert that in that year “human nature changed.” It saw two occurrences that demonstrated a decisive alteration in the assumptions of Christian humanism and the Protestant reformation, which had marked the sixteenth century. The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War; though it may have been a struggle that, in C.V. Wedgewood's phrase, “need not have happened and settled nothing worth settling, ” it was the last European conflict in which religious differences were believed important enough to go to battle over. Issues of politics, class, and national interest were key causes as well, but the conflict drew heavily upon the tensions between Calvinists and

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.