Poly-Olbion is a cycle of 30 poems describing England and Wales, county by county, composed by Michael Drayton in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. It was published in two parts, 1612 and 1622, along with sumptuous black and white maps engraved by William Hole meant to be colored in by its buyers. Now Poly-Olbion will be republished as a coloring book entitled Albions Glorious Ile. The Poly-Olbion Project website is worth exploring, as well as its blog and tumblr.
While Dr. Nadine Akkerman of Leiden University was examining letters sent by Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (Google books preview) during her exile in the Hague, she discovered that some were filled with secret codes.... Akkerman was intrigued as to why the queen would require such covert correspondence. This was her first encounter with the 17th-century female spy.Within England, Dr. Akkerman uncovered a network of more than sixty female spies. [more inside]
After a year of production, John Green's Crash Course US History has come to an end, traveling from the conflicts between the native Americans and the Spanish to the Affordable Care Act.
In the late 1740s, John Wesley—a British evangelist and the co-founder of Methodism—published Primitive Physick, or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases. The tome gave regular people ways to cure themselves, using items they could find in their own homes. - Here are some of his suggested home remedies.
Shortly thereafter, one of the nuns died. La Maupin disinterred the body of the deceased nun and, placing it in the bed of her beloved, set the room afire so that the two could flee in the ensuing confusion. Julie d’Aubigny a.k.a. La Maupin or Mademoiselle Maupin was a 17th century fencer and opera singer of the Paris Opera. In detail. [more inside]
First published in 1691 in London, The Athenian Mercury was the original supplier of answers to readers' questions, a format much imitated since. Queries on love, science, religion, literature and anything else people thought to ask about, were answered by The Athenian Society, members being publisher John Dunton and three of his friends. Athenian Mercury Project is a blog where Dr. Laura Miller publishes questions and answers from the The Athenian Mercury and The Awl has an occasional series where they trawl through the archive (1, 2, 3, 4). Both of these places are good places to start, but if they aren't enough, The Athenian Oracle: Being an Entire Collection of All the Valuable Questions and Answers in the Old Athenian Mercuries, is available on Google Books for free perusal, searching and download. Well, almost all, sadly enough volume one is nowhere to be found, but it does contain volumes two, three, four and a supplement (which includes a lengthy history of The Athenian Society). In addition to that, there is Athenian Sport, a collection of paradoxes debated by The Athenian Society. The questions asked by 17th Century Londoners should be familiar to those of us who read Ask MetaFilter.
The Brilliant Line explores the techniques of Renaissance and Baroque engravers. This interactive exhibit shows how layers of lines become art. (Flash.) [more inside]
Mapping the Republic of Letters is a cartographic tool designed by students and professors at Stanford that seeks to represent the Enlightenment era Republic of Letters, the network of correspondence between the finest thinkers of the day, such as Voltaire, Leibniz, Rousseau, Newton, Diderot, Linnaeus, Franklin and countless others. Patricia Cohen wrote an article about Mapping the Republic of Letters as well as other datamining digital humanities projects in The New York Times. The mapping tool is fun to play with but I recommend you read the blogpost where Cohen explains how to use Mapping the Republic of Letters.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam invites you to compare Caravaggio and Rembrandt. For an overview of Rembrandt's work here are Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work and A Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings. For Caravaggio there's caravaggio.com which makes use of the Italian website Tutta l'opera del Caravaggio.
John Dowland was a lute player and composer roughly contemporaneous with William Shakespeare. In a recent article Mark Padmore, a frequent performer of Dowland's work, compared Dowland to Morrissey and Bob Dylan. Whether that's accurate or not johndowland.co.uk is a fine website with many recordings available either in mp3 format or as videos. There are essays on the site but it also points towards many other Dowlandian treasures online, including this fine biography and lyrics. Among Dowland's best known works are Flow, My Tears, Stay, Time, Awhile and An Heart Thats Broken and Contrite [mp3 links] but my favorites are In Darknesse Let Mee Dwell and Sorrow Stay [YouTube]
To Sleep Perchance to Dream : an exhibition of 17th century sleep-related paraphernalia at the Folger Shakespeare Library offers insight into attitudes towards sleep and dreams. Insomnia? Try eating some lettuce.