17th Century

The East India Company's Theft of China’s Tea Secrets

Great Britain's relationship with tea is part of its cultural identity. But before the mid-1800s, China was the only source of tea, which was a problem in the eyes of the East India Company. 

The Minuscule Science of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek wasn’t REALLY a scientist -- he had no formal training. But he made dozens of scientific discoveries. He’s credited with discovering microscopic life in a variety of forms, using lenses he ground himself.

Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun

Despite growing up in a convent and coming very close to taking religious vows as a nun, Catalina de Erauso wound up living a life of danger and adventure. A lot of today's episode falls into the general category of "exploits."

William Hogarth

In the early 18th century, an engraver-turned-artist made his mark on the art world by producing satirical prints in series that commented on morality and society. And some of his work is used today as a teaching tool.

Maria Sibylla Merian

As a naturalist illustrator, Maria Sibylla Merian helped dispel many entomological myths and improved the scientific study of insects and plants, and she did it beautifully.

Aphra Behn, Writer and Spy

There's really not a lot concretely known about the life of Aphra Behn, who, in addition to being a spy, was a dramatist, poet, novelist, translator, and the first woman in English literature known to have made her living as a writer.

Jamaica's Maroon Wars

Maroons are Africans and people of African ancestry who escaped enslavement and established communities in the Caribbean and parts of the Americas. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Jamaica's Maroon communities clashed with British colonial government.

Vardø Witch Trials

At the height of Europe's witch trials, the northern coast of Norway had a disproportionate number of executions for sorcery. The small fishing community in the Arctic circle staged 140 trials, and sentenced 91 of the accused witches to death.

The Bawdy House Riots of 1668

In early modern London, there was a tradition of sorts where apprentices would amass on holidays and physically destroy brothels. One of the largest such riot took place during Easter week in 1668, and it was a complicated event.

The Life and Times of Sir Isaac Newton

You may know the apple/gravity story, but Isaac Newton's life was so much more than that. Not only did he contribute huge concepts to physics, mathematics and astronomy, he also busted counterfeiters.