Friday, June 29, 2007

1636 to 1638

1636. Providence is founded as a Rhode Island settlement by English clergyman Roger Williams, 33, who has been banished by the Massachusetts Great and General Court for his outspoken criticism of what he calls the 'abuse of power' and who has sought a place where 'persons of distressed conscience' could go. Williams selects the name in gratitude for "God's merciful providence" that the Narragansett have granted him title to the site.

1636. The town of Haarlem is founded by Dutch colonists on Manhattan Island.

1636. Another epidemic of the black Death strikes London.

1636. Harvard College has its beginnings.

Life Is a Dream. Calderon. Spanish. 1636. Play. One of the outstanding Spanish dramas of all time. Explores the mysteries of human destiny, the illusory nature of mundane existence. Conflict between predestination and will. Sigismundo learns that all life is a dream and that virtue and nobility give meaning to the dream.

1637. Massachusetts colonists have their first hostile encounter with the Pequot. A force of 240 militiamen, 1,000 Narragansetts and 70 Mohegans destroys a stockaded fort at Mystic, burning the town and slaughtering 500 inhabitants.

1637. Discours de la Methode by Rene Descartes establishes the "Cartesian" principle of basing metaphysical demonstrations on mathematical certitude rather than on scholastic subtleties. The proper guide to reason, says Descartes, is to doubt everything systematically until one arrives at clear, simple ideas that are beyond doubt.

Le Cid. Corneille. French. 1637. Play. Marks the beginning of modern French drama. Compressed the original material into a swiftly moving play. Argued with and reconciled with Alfonso VI. Exiled. Fought both for and against Moorish rulers. Defeat of the Count of Barcelona. Capture of Valencia. Reconciled with the king. Revenge on his sons-in-law who mistreated his daughters after they were married.

Lycidas. Milton. Britain. 1637. Poetry: Elegy. Commemorates the death of Edward King, a Cambridge schoolmate. Deals with a world in which the good die young and false priests and poets prevail. Ultimately, God's justice will prevail on earth. Virtue is rewarded in heaven. True genius is interconnected and immortal. A poem of self-renewal and dedication to a great work ahead.

The Wonder-Working Magician (El Magico Prodigioso). Calderon. Spanish. 1637. Play. Reminiscent of the Faust legend. Pagan makes pact with the devil to gain the love of a Christian. The devil tempts her in vain. The pagan admires her virtue and becomes a Christian. Both are martyred at the hands of the Roman governor.

1638. Wilmington, Delaware, has its beginnings in Port Christina on the Delaware River where Peter Minuit of the New Sweden Company lands two shiploads of Swedish and Finnish colonists and builds a fort.

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