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Thread: What would amaze a 16th century visitor?

  1. Top | #41
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    Like, i dunno, maybe if i had said
    Someone plucked from the gallery in Shakespeare's theater, say
    , that sort of specificity?
    1600 would be about right for such a person. I like to be careful about such things.
    The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 (construction started in December 1598), and the original was destroyed by fire in 1614 (during the reign of James I and VI). It was rebuilt almost immediately, and the new Globe reopened on the same site by July 1615, and remained in use until it was (along with all London theatres) closed by order of the Long Parliament in 1642, a few weeks after the outbreak of the English Civil War.

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    Veteran Member Tigers!'s Avatar
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    Lack of manners would amaze the visitor.
    NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

  3. Top | #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tigers! View Post
    Lack of manners would amaze the visitor.
    Are you sure about that?

    Shitting, spitting and snorting onto the street in front of everyone was common practice then. Arguably he would stand out with his bad manners instead.

  4. Top | #44
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Also significant from then to now is the decline of hereditary claims to status. Hereditary monarchies are now rare, and the surviving ones are at least half figurehead ones. But what happened?

    An important part of what happened involves Britain's North American colonies. The first attempt to found one, or at least one of the first, was on Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina. Some colonists settled there in 1585, but in 1590, some later colonists found that it was abandoned, with the word CROATOAN carved onto a wall. They could not find out what had happened to the original colonists. Did they starve? Were they massacred by some surrounding Indians? Did they become assimilated into some Indian population?

    But in 1607, the first successful Anglo colony was founded, the Jamestown colony.

    Several other colonies were successfully founded, and they grew and grew until they became comparable to the "Old Country". They grumbled about taxation without representation, and about colonialist crony capitalism, even dumping some tea shipments into a harbor to protest some of that. Over 1775-1781, they fought a war to make themselves independent, and in 1788, they joined themselves in a nation stronger than their previous loose confederacy. Thus, the United States of America originated. A notable feature was its rejection of monarchy. War hero and first President George Washington refused any titled fancier than "Mister President" and he served only two terms in office. The US was thus born a republic, and it has been one ever since.

    Many previous nations have been republics, but the only long-lived ones have been city-states. Larger ones had a tendency to become monarchies, like the ancient Roman Republic becoming the Roman Empire, and more recently, the Dutch Republic becoming a de facto monarchy. Only Switzerland stayed a republic for a long time, and it was a loose confederation.

    Advances in transportation and communication technology made it possible for large nations to easily be republics, it seemed.

    But as the US government was getting started, an even happened that hurt the reputation of republics rather badly. The French Revolution. It had a lot of strife and a lot of guillotinings, and it ended with Napoleon emerging and conquering much of Europe. Nation builders in Europe then wanted monarchs for their nations for the next century, until World War I. The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Serbia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania. Finland almost got a monarch, but the would-be monarch couldn't get there because of WWI. France itself alternated between monarchy and republic until it settled down as a republic.

    When much of Latin America became independent around 1820, most of the new nations were republics, with only Brazil being a monarchy. Mexico had a monarchy in the mid-19th-cy, but it was short-lived.

    World War I was a watershed in the decline of monarchy. Four monarchies fell, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, and the Hohenzollerns, Habsburgs, Romanovs, and Osmans joined the Bourbons (the royal family, not the whisky). President Woodrow Wilson wanted the German monarch to abdicate, and the Austrian one fled. The Russian one abdicated in response to the war effort's continuing to fail, and the Ottoman one stayed on a bit, only to be overthrown by Turkish nationalists for giving away too much.

    After the war, all of the new European nations that emerged were republics. Hungary had the odd circumstance of monarchists split between some Habsburg and some Hungarian aristocrat. But in the Middle East, most of the British-controlled areas became monarchies, with the exception of Palestine. The French-controlled areas became republics, however.

    Monarchies continued to fall over the century since the end of WWI, with most decolonized nations becoming republics and with Eastern European Communists overthrowing monarchies around the end of WWII. Italy's and Greece's monarchies fell from too close association with disliked governments.

    Spain's and Cambodia's monarchies got restored, and de facto monarchies have emerged in some places, notably North Korea.

    The surviving monarchies are largely figurehead ones, though there are some activist ones, for lack of a better term, including some absolute ones.

  5. Top | #45
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    The decline of monarchy is a story that has not been told in a systematic fashion, as far as I know. Why it happened is rather mysterious, though I once saw a hint on how it got started: the "crown prince problem". A leader's successor may get impatient and depose that leader and become leader himself. Being a son or other family member may mean less of a motivation to do so.

    That is related to the more general problem of succession. Successful republics have a strong mechanism of succession that is independent of the leader and his/her family. That is obvious for representative democracies, but one-party states can also have such strong succession. One-party states like most Communist countries, for instance. With weak succession, however, a monarchy can emerge.

    Monarchy in the 20th Century - its dramatic fall. It would be nice to see a distinction on the map between figurehead monarchy, activist constitutional monarchy, and absolute monarchy. Also of what may be called overseas monarchy, like in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  6. Top | #46
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    The big problem with monarchy is that sooner rather than later, a crown prince believes his own bullshit, and becomes so unpopular that his subjects chop his head off.

    This was an increasingly serious problem as life expectancy for the wealthy began to pick up in the Early Modern period; Medieval peasants could tolerate a bad king, secure in the expectation that he wouldn't be around for too long.

    In England, the end came quickly; James I (and VI of Scotland), trained his eldest son, Henry, in how to run a pair of kingdoms with a common border and a history of mutual hatred, in a world full of complex diplomatic problems. One important lesson was to give everyone outside the throne room the confident and unquestionable line that the king was all powerful and answerable only to the God who had chosen him to rule - while privately recognising the limits of monarchical power.

    Unfortunately, Henry's younger brother, Charles, was expected only ever to be a minor prince. So he was fed the propaganda, but not let in on the secret.

    Then Henry and James died - in that order, and in fairly quick succession. This left the English crown on the head of a man who genuinely believed in his sole and divinely bestowed right to do with his kingdom as he wished.

    Charles I was beheaded in Whitehall in 1649, after losing a Civil War, being captured and imprisoned, escaping, starting a second Civil War, and losing again. He simply couldn't accept that he had to consider the opinions of anybody else. Including his Parliament.

    Of course, at that time, nobody knew how to run a country without a king; So the Commonwealth was run as a kingdom in all but name. It was very successful - until the Lord Protector died, and people realised very quickly that his son was bloody useless at running a country. It turns out that statesmanship, leadership, and diplomacy aren't inherited traits.

    The English decided that, if they were to be ruled by a random idiot chosen only by the fact of his descent from an earlier (presumably more competent) relative, they might as well use one with some tradition behind him, and asked Charles's son (also called Charles) to take over - having established very firmly that Parliament was to have the last word, because they still had a big army and a sharp axe.

    Nobody in Europe gave two shits about the North American (former) colonies, until well into the C19th. They were an unimportant and remote backwater. Any european looking for an example of a republic would look at France, or at the British Commonwealth of 1649-1660. Those were serious nations, with armies and navies worthy of respect.

  7. Top | #47
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Nobody in Europe gave two shits about the North American (former) colonies, until well into the C19th. They were an unimportant and remote backwater. Any european looking for an example of a republic would look at France, or at the British Commonwealth of 1649-1660. Those were serious nations, with armies and navies worthy of respect.
    Or the Dutch Republic (1581-1795). Switzerland is up in the mountains, however.

    I think that it took the Spanish-American War to make European politicians consider the US a world power. The US defeated Spain in two of its colonies in only a few months.

    "Britannia rule the waves" was originally an exhortation to have a good navy in case the French tried to invade. But by the late 19th cy., it became a reality. Britain pretty much ruled our planet's oceans. Britain's colonies were spread far enough so that the Sun never set on the British Empire. This was after their loss of their 13 North American colonies.

    But in 1600, the Spanish Armada was defeated only 12 years ago. It was a huge invasion fleet, but the English defeated it.

  8. Top | #48
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Turning to science, I must note that one of the world's oldest scientific societies, The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, would not be founded until 1660.


    What passed as chemistry in 1600 was a part of alchemy, legitimate chemistry with a lot of metaphysical and mystical flim-flam almost hopelessly mixed in with it.

    Alchemy also involved such quests as making gold and the universal solvent. Many people expected having a lot of gold to make them rich, but if gold was as common and readily available as lead, its exchange value would drop to that of lead. It is nearly twice as dense as lead, and it is close to chemically inert, and both of these properties would make it at at least somewhat useful.

    But in 1404, English kind Henry IV outlawed the "multiplying" of gold and silver, likely out of fear of a flood of synthetic precious metals. What he likely feared was what happened when Spain conquered parts of the Americas. Spanish colonists sent back a lot of gold and silver, and all that happened was a lot of inflation. Everything is dear in Spain except silver, a French traveler stated in 1603.

    Robert Boyle's The Sceptical Chymist: or Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes was also published in 1660. He tried for a while to make gold, but he then became skeptical about the possibility of doing so. Among other things, RB advocated repeal of Henry IV's law because he considered it to have a chilling effect on chemical research. "Chilling effect" being a present-day term for his description.

  9. Top | #49
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    Our teeth look pretty good. Boobs can be stunning but fake. The codpiece is gone, alas (that was a cool look, if you ask me.) And we have Twinkies breakfast cereal.

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    I thought the path was clear. Monarchy to limited monarchy to constitutional monarchy to democratic republic, or something like that. Europe still has anachronistic monarchs and royal families/aristocracies. I'd rather drive a nail in my head than refer into an aristocratic as sir or your highness. I guess that rules me out as a diplomat. But that was partly what the revolution was about, getting rid of that social privilege by birth.

    Teeth is a good one. People used to die from oral infections.

    Personal hygiene in general. I read somewhere that a large gathering like a party or ball must have stunk badly. Hence heavy scents and perfumes for men as well.

    Clean clothes every day along with a bath or shower.

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