17th Century

Matthew Hopkins and The Discovery of Witches

England’s largest and deadliest set of witch trials were largely influenced by one man – Matthew Hopkins, who was known as the Witchfinder General, even though that doesn’t seem to have been an official title given to him in any sort of formal way.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

She was the Spanish empire’s most widely published poet of her time, and her work has survived until today, but not her own thoughts about much of her life. Consequently, her life, and her very complex poetry, has been really subject to interpretation.


The Success of Pastellist Rosalba Carriera

Venetian portraitist Carriera achieved a surprising level of success in the male-dominated European art world of the early 1700s. Her work helped popularize pastels and her portraits were commissioned by Europe's most prominent figures. 

John Wilkins and His 1640s Lunar Exploration Plans

In the 1600s, John Wilkins was planning out what he thought it would take for humans to travel to the moon. Wilkins managed to ride out a rocky time in England’s historycomfortably, and was well known; he appears in the diaries of Samuel Pepys.

Benjamin Lay, the Quaker Comet

Benjamin Lay was a Quaker and a radical abolitionist who lived in the period between when the Religious Society of Friends began and when it started formally banning slave ownership among its members.

Thomas Harriot: Mathematician, Astronomer, Relative Unknown

Harriot's story is tied to SO MANY other notable historic things, including a lot of business with Sir Walter Raleigh. He’s really not a household name like many of his contemporaries, even though he was neck-and-neck with them in terms of discoveries. 

Samuel Pepys, Beyond the Diary

We’re coming up on the 350th anniversary of Pepys’ last diary entry, written May 31, 1669, so it seemed like a good time to take a closer look not just at the diary, but also at who Pepys was beyond his famous chronicle of life in 17th-century London.




Hennig Brand and the Discovery of Phosphorus

Spoiler alert: Hennig Brand discovered phosphorous by boiling pee. And phosphorous is the first element whose discoverer we can name. But he was really trying to do something else: He thought the secret to the philosopher’s stone might be found in urine. 

Bacon's Rebellion, Part 2

Last time, we talked about the many reasons Virginia colonists were frustrated by the 1670s, including the price of tobacco, taxation, and disparities between the richest colonists and everyone else. But another issue actually sparked the rebellion. 

Bacon’s Rebellion, Part 1

For a long time Bacon’s Rebellion was primarily interpreted as a precursor to the Revolutionary War, with patriotic colonists rising up against the tyranny of the British colonial government. But there are a lot more moving parts than that. This first part sets the scene and establishes the context of the rebellion.