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Temptation in the Archives

Temptation in the Archives: Essays in Golden Age Dutch Culture OPEN ACCESS

Lisa Jardine
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: UCL Press
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Temptation in the Archives
    Book Description:

    Temptation in the Archivesis a collection of essays by Lisa Jardine, that takes readers on a journey through the Dutch Golden Age. Through the study of such key figures as Sir Constantjin Huygens, a Dutch polymath and diplomat, we begin to see the Anglo-Dutch cultural connections that formed during this period against the backdrop of unfolding political events in England.Temptation in the Archivespaints a picture of a unique relationship between the Netherlands and England in the 17th century forged through a shared experience - and reveals the lessons we can learn from it today.

    eISBN: 978-1-910634-09-7
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. This is the story of a paper-chase – a seemingly fruitless search in the archives, which eventually yielded a seventeenth-century letter I had been trying to find for several years. It is a cautionary tale about the trust we historians place in documents and records, and how badly we want each precious piece of evidence to add to the historical picture. And it is a story which illustrates in a number of ways the essentialuncertaintywhich underlies, and ultimately gives purpose to, archival research in the humanities – in spite of the reassuring materiality of the hundreds-of-years-old piece of paper we...

  2. On 1 November 1688 [new style],¹ driven onward at speed by a strong easterly wind, a vast Dutch fleet left its sheltered harbour at Hellevoetsluis and sailed out into open waters. At a signal from Prince William of Orange the great gathering of ships organised itself into prearranged format, ‘stretching the whole fleet in a line, from Dover to Calais, twenty five deep’. The Dutch began their mission, ‘colours flying’, the fleet ‘in its greatest splendour’, ‘a vast mass of sail stretching as far as the eye could see, the warships on either flank simultaneously thundering their guns in salute...

  3. On 13/23 January 1665¹ Sir robert Moray, courtier and confidant to King Charles II, and sometime President of the royal Society in London, wrote to the talented young mathematician and horologist Christiaan Huygens at The Hague:

    At last Captain Holmes has returned, and the account he has given us of the experiment with the pendulum clocks leaves us in absolutely no doubt as to their success.

    He left the island of Saint Thomas, which is under the Line, accompanied by four vessels. In order to pick up the correct wind for his return he was obliged to steer towards the...

  4. Constantijn Huygens was born in The Hague on 4 September 1596, and died there on 29 March 1687. In the Netherlands he is an iconic cultural figure for the seventeenth century – a distinguished man of letters and polymath who left an indelible mark upon emerging Dutch culture. His reputation does not, however, extend far beyond his homeland. To most readers from outside the Netherlands Huygens’s name will hardly register.

    In her pioneering work in the English language on Huygens, published in 1956, the literary critic rosalie Colie wrote:

    Constantijn Huygens is almost unknown to English readers and students – if he...

  5. I want here to explore the self-fashioning of a successful seventeenthcentury individual via the written form most typical of self-awareness in the period – the familiar letter. Nowhere is that image-shaping more energetic, pragmatic and, we might say, obvious than in Constantijn Huygens’s early personal life, as this ambitious young member of the élite circle in The Hague explored every available avenue of patronage and service, so as to assure himself a successful and privileged future career.¹ Yet precisely here, it seems, scholars have tended to turn a blind eye to the amount of self-construction involved in crafting his meteoric rise....

  6. This is an essay about the continuing importance, for the Englishspeaking world, of Johan Huizinga’s innovative approach to cultural history, especially as articulated in his often cited (but rather less often read) work,Homo Ludens(first published in Dutch in 1938, first English translation 1949, first generally available edition 1955).¹

    Huizinga is a master story-teller, whose material is drawn from the everyday detail, literature and poetry of the late middle ages, and who weaves documented incident and event into a richly varied tapestry of the forms of ‘life, art and thought’ of ordinary people in France and Holland in the...