The scientists affiliated with the early Royal Society of London have long been regarded as forerunners of modern empiricism, rejecting the symbolic and moral goals of Renaissance natural history in favor of plainly representing the world as it really was. In Aesthetic Science, Alexander Wragge-Morley challenges this interpretation by arguing that key figures such as John Ray, Robert Boyle, Nehemiah Grew, Robert Hooke, and Thomas Willis saw the study of nature as an aesthetic project.
To show how early modern naturalists conceived of the interplay between sensory experience and the production of knowledge, Aesthetic Science explores natural-historical and anatomical works of the Royal Society through the lens of the aesthetic. By underscoring the importance of subjective experience to the communication of knowledge about nature, Wragge-Morley offers a groundbreaking reconsideration of scientific representation in the early modern period and brings to light the hitherto overlooked role of aesthetic experience in the history of the empirical sciences.
Built on sugar, slaves, and piracy, Jamaica’s Port Royal was the jewel in England’s quest for empire until a devastating earthquake sank the city beneath the sea
A haven for pirates and the center of the New World’s frenzied trade in slaves and sugar, Port Royal, Jamaica, was a notorious cutthroat settlement where enormous fortunes were gained for the fledgling English empire. But on June 7, 1692, it all came to a catastrophic end. Drawing on research carried out in Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States, Apocalypse 1692: Empire, Slavery, and the Great Port Royal Earthquake by Ben Hughes opens in a post–Glorious Revolution London where two Jamaica-bound voyages are due to depart. A seventy-strong fleet will escort the Earl of Inchiquin, the newly appointed governor, to his residence at Port Royal, while the Hannah, a slaver belonging to the Royal African Company, will sail south to pick up human cargo in West Africa before setting out across the Atlantic on the infamous Middle Passage. Utilizing little-known first-hand accounts and other primary sources, Apocalypse 1692 intertwines several related themes: the slave rebellion that led to the establishment of the first permanent free black communities in the New World; the raids launched between English Jamaica and Spanish Santo Domingo; and the bloody repulse of a full-blown French invasion of the island in an attempt to drive the English from the Caribbean. The book also features the most comprehensive account yet written of the massive earthquake and tsunami which struck Jamaica in 1692, resulting in the deaths of thousands, and sank a third of the city beneath the sea. From the misery of everyday life in the sugar plantations, to the ostentation and double-dealings of the plantocracy; from the adventures of former-pirates-turned-treasure-hunters to the debauchery of Port Royal, Apocalypse 1692 exposes the lives of the individuals who made late seventeenth-century Jamaica the most financially successful, brutal, and scandalously corrupt of all of England’s nascent American colonies.
At the height of its power around 1800, the English East India Company controlled half of the world’s trade and deployed a vast network of political influencers at home and abroad. Yet the story of the Company’s beginnings in the early seventeenth century has remained largely untold. Rupali Mishra’s account of the East India Company’s formative years sheds new light on one of the most powerful corporations in the history of the world.
From its birth in 1600, the East India Company lay at the heart of English political and economic life. The Company’s fortunes were determined by the leading figures of the Stuart era, from the monarch and his privy counselors to an extended cast of eminent courtiers and powerful merchants. Drawing on a host of overlooked and underutilized sources, Mishra reconstructs the inner life of the Company, laying bare the era’s fierce struggles to define the difference between public and private interests and the use and abuse of power. Unlike traditional accounts, which portray the Company as a private entity that came to assume the powers of a state, Mishra’s history makes clear that, from its inception, the East India Company was embedded within—and inseparable from—the state.
A Business of State illuminates how the East India Company quickly came to inhabit such a unique role in England’s commercial and political ambitions. It also offers critical insights into the rise of the early modern English state and the expansion and development of its nascent empire.
Modern political culture features a deep-seated faith in the power of numbers to find answers, settle disputes, and explain how the world works. Whether evaluating economic trends, measuring the success of institutions, or divining public opinion, we are told that numbers don’t lie. But numbers have not always been so revered. Calculated Values traces how numbers first gained widespread public authority in one nation, Great Britain.
Into the seventeenth century, numerical reasoning bore no special weight in political life. Complex calculations were often regarded with suspicion, seen as the narrow province of navigators, bookkeepers, and astrologers, not gentlemen. This changed in the decades following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Though Britons’ new quantitative enthusiasm coincided with major advances in natural science, financial capitalism, and the power of the British state, it was no automatic consequence of those developments, William Deringer argues. Rather, it was a product of politics—ugly, antagonistic, partisan politics. From Parliamentary debates to cheap pamphlets, disputes over taxes, trade, and national debt were increasingly conducted through calculations. Some of the era’s most pivotal political moments, like the 1707 Union of England and Scotland and the 1720 South Sea Bubble, turned upon calculative conflicts.
As Britons learned to fight by the numbers, they came to believe, as one calculator wrote in 1727, that “facts and figures are the most stubborn evidences.” Yet the authority of numbers arose not from efforts to find objective truths that transcended politics, but from the turmoil of politics itself.
*Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England* explores one of society’s darkest crimes using archival sources and discussing its representation in the drama, pamphlets and broadside ballads of the early modern period. It takes the reader on a journey through the streets and taverns where street literature was hawked, to the playhouses where the crime was dramatized, and the courts where it was tried and punished. Using a regional microstudy of coroners’ inquests and churchwardens’ presentments, coupled with theories of liminality, marginality and rites of passage, it reveals complex and contradictory attitudes to infants, women and the crime. As well as considering unwed women, the most common perpetrators of infanticide, the study shows that married women, men and the local community were also culpable, and the many reasons for this. Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England is set in its European and historical contexts, revealing surprising continuities across time.
A Common Man’s Survival After Being Captured at the Battle of Dunbar and Sold into Servitude in America
In the winter of 1650–51, one hundred fifty ragged and hungry Scottish prisoners of war arrived at Massachusetts Bay Colony, where they were sold as indentured laborers for 20 to 30 pounds each. Among them was Thomas Doughty, a common foot soldier who had survived the Battle of Dunbar, a forced marched of 100 miles without food or water, imprisonment in Durham Cathedral, and a difficult Atlantic crossing. An ordinary individual who experienced extraordinary events, Doughty was among some 420 Scottish soldiers who were captured during the War of the Three Kingdoms, transported to America, and sold between 1650 and 1651. Their experiences offer a fresh perspective on seventeenth-century life. The Involuntary American: A Scottish Prisoner’s Journey to the New World by Carol Gardner describes Doughty’s life as a soldier, prisoner of war, exile, servant, lumberman, miller, and ultimately free landowner. It follows him and his peers through critical events: the apex of the Little Ice Age, the War of the Three Kingdoms, the colonization of New England, the burgeoning transatlantic trade in servants and slaves, King Philip’s and King William’s wars, and the Salem witch crisis. Firstperson accounts of individuals who lived through those events—Scottish, English, Puritan, Native American, wealthy, poor, working class, educated or not— provide rich period detail and a variety of perspectives. The Involuntary American demonstrates how even individuals of humble circumstances were swept into the maelstrom of the First Global Age. It expands our understanding of immigration to the colonies, colonial servitude, the linkages and tensions between Europe, Massachusetts Bay, and America’s northeastern frontier, and of New England society in the early colonial period.
Fought in New York, New England, and Canada, the conflict that began the long French and English struggle for the New World
While much has been written on the French and Indian War of 1754–1763, the colonial conflicts that preceded it have received comparatively little attention. Yet in King William’s War, the first clash between England and France for control of North America, the patterns of conflict for the next seventy years were laid, as were the goals and objectives of both sides, as well as the realization that the colonies of the two nations could not coexist.
King William’s War actually encompassed several proxy wars being fought by the English and the French through their native allies. The Beaver Wars was a long running feud between the Iroquois Confederacy, New France, and New France’s native allies over control of the lucrative fur trade. Fueled by English guns and money, the Iroquois attempted to divert the French fur trade towards their English trading partners in Albany, and in the process gain control over other Indian tribes. To the east the pro-French Wabanaki of Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick had earlier fought a war with New England, but English expansion and French urgings, aided by foolish moves and political blunders on the part of New England, erupted into a second Wabanaki War on the eve of King William’s War. Thus, these two conflicts officially became one with the arrival of news of a declaration of war between France and England in 1689. The next nine years saw coordinated attacks, including French assaults on Schenectady, New York, and Massachusetts, and English attacks around Montreal and on Nova Scotia. The war ended diplomatically, but started again five years later in Queen Anne’s War.
A riveting history full of memorable characters and events, and supported by extensive primary source material, King William’s War: The First Contest for North America, 1689–1697 by Michael G. Laramie is the first book-length treatment of a war that proved crucial to the future of North America.
William Poole recounts Milton's life as England’s self-elected national poet and explains how the greatest poem of the English language came to be written. How did a blind man compose this staggeringly complex, intensely visual work? Poole explores how Milton’s life and preoccupations inform the poem itself—its structure, content, and meaning.
The Scientific Revolution
Steven Shapin University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress Q125.S5166 2018 | Dewey Decimal 509
“There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.” With this provocative and apparently paradoxical claim, Steven Shapin begins his bold, vibrant exploration of the origins of the modern scientific worldview, now updated with a new bibliographic essay featuring the latest scholarship.
“An excellent book.”—Anthony Gottlieb, New York Times Book Review
“Timely and highly readable. . . . A book which every scientist curious about our predecessors should read.”—Trevor Pinch, New Scientist
“Shapin's account is informed, nuanced, and articulated with clarity. . . . This is not to attack or devalue science but to reveal its richness as the human endeavor that it most surely is. . . . Shapin's book is an impressive achievement.”—David C. Lindberg, Science
“It's hard to believe that there could be a more accessible, informed or concise account. . . . The Scientific Revolution should be a set text in all the disciplines. And in all the indisciplines, too.”—Adam Phillips, London Review of Books
Women on the Edge in Early Modern Europe examines the lives of women whose gender impeded the exercise of their personal, political, and religious agency, with an emphasis on the conflict that occurred when they crossed the edges society placed on their gender. Many of the women featured in this collection have only been afforded cursory scholarly focus, or the focus has been isolated to a specific, (in)famous event. This collection redresses this imbalance by providing comprehensive discussions of the women's lives, placing the matter that makes them known to history within the context of their entire life. Focusing on women from different backgrounds - such as Marie Meurdrac, the French chemist; Anna Trapnel, the Fifth Monarchist and prophetess; and Cecilia of Sweden, princess, margravine, countess, and regent - this collection brings together a wide range of scholars from a variety of disciplines to bring attention to these previously overlooked women.