Welcome to the 10th edition of Carnivalesque – with extra fireworks!
Natalie Bennett thinks there’s nothing like a good anecdote about the thieves, tipplers, foreigners, dodgy developers and troublemakers of 17th-century London. Ben Brumfield, a self-described sucker for diaries, shares some stories from the journal of Phillip Vickers Fithian, a teacher employed by a Virginia planter in 1773-4. Miss Wynn’s Diaries of a Lady of Quality offered an account of a visit to a Russian princess.
Bix introduces the the history of consumerism, in which the 18th century plays a key role.
Meanwhile, Nathanael Robinson was not impressed by the film version of Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Peacay takes a look at the making of chocolate.
The problems caused by travelling across centuries and cultures: Miriam Jones’s students don’t know how to read 18th-century texts. Meanwhile, Sepoy comments on a beautiful but controversial postage stamp.
Plots and Politics
Treason never prospers – What’s the reason?
For if it does, there’s none dare call it treason.
A number of bloggers reflected on modern parallels and the meanings of Gunpowder Plot today. Alan Allport’s thoughts on exploding popes, I, II and III discuss the (in)famous annual celebrations at Lewes in Sussex. Mark Brady remembers. And a late bonus entry: Rebecca has some more pope burning, in Boston this time.
I have to confess that I failed to lead by example after announcing the idea of this theme section, but back in July, I did look at the immediate consequences in one locality of the fear and paranoia generated by the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. Other bloggers did much better than me and explored larger themes of English anti-catholicism in the seventeenth century. Kristine Steenburgh maps out how early modern English culture connected Catholicism, women and treachery, while Brandon examines Hobbes’s anti-catholicism.
Myths, old and new
Some blogging comment followed a recent article in the NY Times (now behind a paywall, but reproduced here and elsewhere) about the recent historiography of early modern witchcraft and witchtrials, which has demolished many previous myths and conspiracy theories concerning medieval and early modern witch persecution. Some people were still surprised to learn this; some saw an opportunity to do some feminist bashing; pagans discussed it too. However, there was little reaction from historians. But if you need an introduction to the current ideas in the field, just go and read Suzie Lipscomb’s very good post.
Another British anniversary that attracted some attention in recent weeks was the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Not everyone agreed that it was such a cause for celebration, however. Adventures in Historical Materialism was highly critical. Mark Rayner took a more light-hearted approach, wondering what would have happened if Nelson had missed the Battle of Trafalgar.
Religion and Science
Philip Harland continues a series of informative posts on late medieval Christianity and the Reformations.
At Giornale Nuovo, misteraitch Nuovo went in search of the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher.
For those of you who can read Portuguese (not me, sadly), Rua di Judiaria examines the responses of Portuguese Jews to the Lisbon Earthquake, reading it as divine retribution. (Particular thanks to Nathanael Robinson for the nomination.)
Miriam Jones writes on negotiating early modern religious texts in the classroom. From the perspective of philosophy of science, Greg Frost-Arnold reconsiders the question of change and continuity in the scientific revolution
Blog conversations: the policing and detection of crime
It’s great when a real conversation – within and between blogs – develops about a subject. Especially when that conversation leads to some new (and potentially significant) research. It sort of started when I wrote a post about ghosts, murders and providence, which got a great response from Kristine. Then I followed up with the story of a seventeenth-century detective, which brought a great question from Chris in a comment: “Do you have records of anything approaching forensic awareness?”
That got several of us thinking. Kristine uncovered some forensics in early modern drama. I belatedly remembered reading about a sixteenth-century trial in Wales. Meanwhile, Jonathan Edelstein explored the Old Bailey Proceedings Online for what light they might shed on 18th-century court practice and began to discover some remarkable material, starting with an early expert witness and a detective story from 1717.
Following on from all this, Jonathan has come up with the great idea of holding an OBP blog symposium, if enough people show an interest in writing posts.
Contributions don’t have to be long and involved – they just need to use the online OBP for source material. You don’t have to be interested in the history of crime as such, either – the trial proceedings are a very rich source that throws light on many aspects of long-18th-century society (and the database is keyword searchable): a conference focusing on the OBP last year included papers on waste disposal, soldiers and sailors, gay history and immigrants. You don’t even have to have your own blog: both Jonathan and I will be happy to provide guest slots.
If you think you might like to participate, get in touch with Jonathan: jonathan9[at]earthlink.net (or me: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Well, that’s it for this time. Many thanks to those of you who sent nominations! I have no idea yet who will be hosting the next edition (ancient/medieval) in early December, but you can send nominations (or offers to host) to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.