17th Century

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. 





A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 2

In the first part of this two-parter, we covered ballet’s origins and early evolution. We left off with the founding of the Academie Royale de Musique, and the ways Jean-Baptiste Lully worked to ensure that his academy had as much prestige as possible.  

A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 1

For a long time, there was no formalized dance in western culture. Eventually, court performers in Europe were asked to also teach their audiences how to dance, blending the worlds of performance and social dancing, and creating a new art form.

The Beheading of Sir Walter Raleigh

Among other things, Sir Walter Raleigh was a courtier, an explorer, a historian, a Member of Parliament and a soldier. He was part of England’s defense against the Spanish armada, as well the Tudor conquest of Ireland, some of which was truly horrifying. According to some people, he is now a ghost. 

The Defenestrations of Prague

“Defenestrate” just means “to throw out of a window.” And apart from sounding like the punch line to a joke about Daleks … there has been a surprising amount of defenestration in Czech history. And almost all of it has been connected religious wars.

Henry Every, Successful Pyrate

Every carried out what’s been described as the most profitable and brutal pirate raid in history. It became a massive international incident, and Britain tried to repair its relationship with the Mughal Empire through a highly publicized series of trials.