Sunday, November 07, 2010

Early Modern London Re-visioned

Received notice of an exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery. London’s Water: 400 Years of the New River, which, they note, "a display charting the history of the river and the New River Company’s role in supplying water to the capital."

The work to the right, new to me, is an anonymous work titled "A Prospect of the City from the North, c.1730."  (The link to the City of London's Collage provides a larger image and a fuller description.)

Drinking as Enlightenment?

  • People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka!” moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web. ("Where good ideas come from: Steven Johnson"; TEDGlobal, July 2010, Oxford, 17:46)
This podcast (blog talk?) begins in early modern England, as all digital humanities should I suppose.  Dr. Johnson (not that one) makes a couple of suspect claims.  First, the Oxford coffeehouse probably dates from 1654 not 1651 (as most claim); and the first coffeehouse in the British Isles was probably in London about the same time [Brian Cowan, "Publicity and Privacy in the History of the British Coffeehouse," History Compass 5, 4 (June 2007): 1180–213]. Second, coffeehouses (like taverns) often had private rooms and/or high-backed boxes as well as a public table(s) [John Barrell, “Coffee-House Politicians,” JBS 43, 2 (2004): 206-32].  So we cannot state that coffeehouses always privileged openness ("connecting) over proprietariness ("property").  The talk does point to the importance of examining spaces, sociability, and networks, however.  Then and now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Toleration: A Natural Development in England and Western Civilization?

Charles de Gaulle once said (about Jean-Paul Sartre and his firebrand politics), "We do not imprison our Voltaires."  He appeared to have forgotten that Voltaire was indeed imprisoned for a satire on the French government.  But "we" in the past were always more tolerant and more independent-minded in our own memories than the facts warrant.  Perhaps that is why journalist Christopher Caldwell claims Lockean tolerance for the entire culture of early modern Europe.  Writing in the Financial Times against the Cordoba mosque complex proposal for lower Manhattan, he notes:
  • Including Islam within the fold of traditional western religious tolerance is not business-as-usual. It is an experiment. Our Lockean ideas of religious tolerance had their origins in the 16th century (the peace of Augsburg) and the 17th (the peace of Westphalia). Those understandings regulated relations between Christian sects and were steadily liberalised. Judaism later proved assimilable into this system in the US, but not, to put it mildly, everywhere in the west.
  • Islam – which is, like Christianity but unlike contemporary Judaism, an evangelising and expansionist religion – is a bigger challenge. ("A mosque that wrecks bridges," August 6, 2010) 
The idea that 17th-century Europe or even England was the home of "traditional western religious tolerance" is not the argument of John Marshall's extensive study of John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge, 2006).  To quote just the abstract of this important work, Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration (1685, pub. 1689) developed in the midst of "debates over toleration for Jews and Muslims as well as for Christians; the limits of toleration for the intolerant, Catholics, atheists, ‘libertines’, and ‘sodomites’, and the complex relationships between intolerance and resistance theories."  In Sources and Debates in English History, 1485-1714, 2nd. ed., we include an extract of his Letter (9.23), but also The trial of Daniel Dammarree for his role in the Sacheverell Riots (April 1710, 9.15) [he helped tear down a mosque, whoops, Dissenter meeting house], as well as an extract from The Toleration Act (9.4), whose full title, "An Act for Exempting their Majesties’ Protestant Subjects, Dissenting from the Church of England, from the Penalties of Certain Laws," 1 Will. & Mary, c. 18, 1689) suggests how limited "traditional western religious tolerance" was.  (Note: I was alerted to Caldwell's take on the past by Andrew Sullivan, "Who Let the Dogs Out," Daily Dish,9 Aug. 2010)

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    The Stuarts: an unsuccessful monarchy. Discuss.

    Jeremy Black gave a paper with the title above (I added "discuss") at The Maritime Lectures series at Greenwich on A Declaration of Indulgence: assessing the Stuart restoration and its legacy, earlier this year. Surely that can only be the case if one discounts William and Mary and Anne?  A bit Jacobite not to consider them Stuarts, yes?  (By the way, the program for the conference has this nice portrait miniature of Charles II blown-up.  Who is the painter?)

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    When EEBO and ECCO become Verbs

    Another day, another blog:
    should be added to our list Virtual Grub Street? The Bibliography of Online Document Archives at the end of the 2nd ed. of Sources and Debates lists EEBO and ECCO as important source collections, even though we know that many schools and universities cannot afford to subscribe to these massive databases.  In my own course, I have students work with EEBO for at least one assignment, Sources and Debates, Revolutionary England, Essay on 1640-60.  I am working on a podcast on how to search EEBO and use the materials, although through Early Modern Online Bibliography I learned of the University of Warwick's English and Comparative Literary Studies' Video guide to using EEBO.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    When Worlds Collide: Early Modern Word Up

    It is with some surprise that I discover in the latest email newsletter from UK music magazine Word a link to the new London Lives 1690-1820: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis.

    According to the Project Staff:
    • London Lives makes available, in a fully digitised and searchable form, a wide range of primary sources about eighteenth-century London, with a particular focus on plebeian Londoners. This resource includes over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives and is supplemented by fifteen datasets created by other projects. It provides access to historical records containing over 3.35 million name instances. Facilities are provided to allow users to link together records relating to the same individual, and to compile biographies of the best documented individuals. 
    Eventually it will be integrated with an even larger set of databases, as described in Connected Histories: Sources for Building British History, 1500–1900.  London Lives should be added to the bibliography of online works in the 2nd ed. of Sources and Debates (and would be useful for students working on late Stuart social and cultural issues, ch. 9).

    One caveat, the organizers promise a wiki to help markup and transcription.  A quick test of my father's name reveals the following:
    • From a Court holden at the said Hospital of Bridewell on Friday the 6th. of March 1746/7 
    • Edward Bellamy being Charged by the Oath of Harry Key at the Wheatsheaf in Cornhill Linnen Draper being a Disorderly Personand Pilferring and Old Hall of small Value his Property. 
    That clearly should be "an old hatt" (Bellamy appears to have stolen Harry's hat).  Amazingly, London Lives provides a photo of the original MS. minute book on the same webpage (with a handy zoom) and, indeed, that is what is written.  Amazing source.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    41 Come Again

    Perhaps my headline is a bit of a misnomer for a link to the 1641 Depositions Project regarding the Irish Rising of October 1641.  But, when the English during the Exclusion Crisis c. 1680 worried that their divisions from the first years of the Long Parliament might be erupting again, they did have some fear about Catholic or Irish Plots. 

    As Sir George Hungerford noted in the Commons debate 15 December 1680 (as printed in Key and Bucholz, Sources and Debates, 2nd ed. (2009), 221:
    • I am of opinion, that the late queen mother’s [Henrietta Maria’s] zeal for her religion, was not only a great occasion (amongst many others) of the miseries that befell us in [16]41; but the great cause of all our miseries now, by perverting the duke [of York] from his religion, as is reported. …
    In any case, the depositions called for in the wake of the 1641 Irish Rebellion have been transcribed, appropriately enough beginning with those from Ulster where the rising began, and are available online.
    As a recent article on the project notes:

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Virtual Grub Street?

    An expanding array of blogs cover the early modern England, Britain, and the World. Perhaps because the blogosphere emulates the cheap and ready world of Stuart London printing presses (the main title of the accompanying pamphlet title-page from the anarchic year of 1659, when censorship evaporated, is my personal favorite representing the early modern internet), many of these blogs focus on print, newspapers, and publishers. The wall between regular sites and blogs is not fast and is permeable. The following list is partial even of those I have bookmarked.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    A Room of One's Own

    Wenceslaus (Wenzel) Hollar's 1656 engraving of William Dugdale (1605-1686) suggests the tools of the trade in early modern England were a bit simpler than today. Still, Dugdale might be pleased to learn that "Historian" was listed as one of The Ten Best Jobs in America 2009.

    Bibliography of Online Document Archives

    To the bibliography of online works in the 2nd ed. of Sources and Debates should be added:
    (This work would be particularly relevant for students working on the early Stuart period (Early Modern England, ch. 7; Sources and Debates, ch. 6), and/or social and cultural issues (Early Modern England, ch. ; Sources and Debates, ch. 5).

    And, because I keep being drawn to telling examples from The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern England, by Keith Thomas (Oxford University Press, 2009) (see earlier posting), one might mention the following from his "Arms and the Man" chapter: "In 1513 virtually all fit members of the nobility turned out for Henry VIII's campaign in France, in the same way as their ancestors had done for Henry V at Agincourt." (47) No waning, then?

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Adding the Three Kingdoms to Early Modern England

    Scotland and Ireland are always part of the story of early modern England as our text, Early Modern England, repeatedly shows. For the late-Stuart period, there are a couple of works which we might now add to our bibliography:
    • Smyth, Jim. The Making of the United Kingdom, 1660-1800: State, Religion and Identity in Britain and Ireland (Longman, 2001).
    • Connolly, S. J. Divided Kingdom: Ireland 1630-1800 (Oxford University Press, 2008)
    The latter is worth noting, not least for including the following quote from James II as he opposed an act of attainder against Protestants for their support of William proposed by the Jacobite Parliament of Ireland in 1689:
    • 'What gentlemen, are you for another [16]41?' (Connolly, 181)
    (The source being the somewhat suspect Jacobite, Charles Leslie, notwithstanding.)

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Adding to Early Modern England's Bibliography

    Two works published since the 2nd ed. of Early Modern England and Sources and Debates should be added to the Select Bibliography of our text.
    • The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern England, by Keith Thomas (Oxford University Press, 2009) to the Social and Cultural section of both our Tudor and Stuart sections.
    • Global Lives: Britain and the World, 1550–1800, by Miles Ogborn (Cambridge University Press, 2008) to the Europe and Empire section.
    These two works might also be mined for further examples of the themes of Early Modern England. To give just two examples, regarding the influence of wealth on markers of status, which previous graced the Great Chain of Being, Thomas finds an Elizabethan satirist who notes that manners take second place to full coffers:
    • Yea, let him cough, hawk, spit and fart, and piss,
    • If he be wealthy, nothing is amiss. (Nicholas Breton, 1600, quoted in Thomas, 113)
    And Sir Walter Raleigh on the scaffold, 29 October 1618, noted that his had been
    • a sinful Life, in all sinful Callings, having been a Souldier, a Captain, a Sea-Captain, and a Courtier. (quoted in Ogborn, 37)
    Raleigh was reflecting on a courtier's obligation to put up with his betters who "cough, hawk, spit and fart" no doubt.

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Extending the Early Modern England story

    Readers of Early Modern England 1485-1714: A Narrative History, 2nd ed., by Robert Bucholz and Newton Key might be interested in extending the story down to 1837 or even to the present. Our publishers, Wiley-Blackwell, now offer two related texts for the later periods:
    For the period 1399-1450s, we wrote a chapter preceding the printed narrative which is available online for no charge:

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