Monday, July 9, 2007

1656 to 1664

1656, Dutch mathematician-physicist-astronomer Christian Huygens, 27, revolutionizes clockmaking with a clock regulated by a pendulum.

1658. Oliver Cromwell dies September 3 at age 58 after nearly 5 years as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His son Richard, 31, succeeds to power.

1658. English coal production at Newcastle reaches 529,032 tons, up from 32,051, as the deforestation of England and the Continent spurs use of coal for fuel.

"Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial." Sir Thomas Browne. British. 1658. Essay. Starts as a scientific report on Roman burial urns. Meditation on morality and oblivion. Flawless prose.

The Ridiculous Snobs. Moliere. French. 1659. Play. Girls admire only extravagant manners. Lovers send valets who act in this way and they fall for it.

1660. England's civil war ends, May 8, after 11 years as the son of the late Charles I is proclaimed king. Now 20, he lands at Dover, May 26, arrives at Whitehall, May 29, amidst universal rejoicing, and will reign until 1685 as Charles II.

1662. The Royal Society for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge is chartered at London.

The School for Wives. Moliere. French. 1662. Play. Verse. Arnolphe arranges for his beloved Agnes to be raised in total innocence. Horace undermines his plans.

The Day of Doom. Michael Wigglesworth. American. 1662. Poetry. First American best seller. Describes the Day of Judgment, sending sinners and babies without baptism to Hell.

1663. A Second Navigation Act passed by Parliament, July 27, forbids English colonists to trade with other European countries. European goods bound for America must be unloaded at English ports and reshipped, even though English export duties and profits to middlemen may make prices prohibitive in America.

1663. An epidemic of the Black Death kills 10,000 at Amsterdam out of the city's 200,000 people.

1664. Nieuw Amsterdam becomes New York, August 27, as 300 English soldiers under Col. Mathias Nicolls take the town from the Dutch under orders from charles II.

1664. The Black Death kills 24,000 in Old Amsterdam. Men who put the dead into the deadcarts keep their pipes lit in the belief now widespread that tobacco smokers will be spared.

Hudibras. Samuel Butler. British. 1664/78. Poetry. Satire. Directed against the hypocritical intolerance of the Puritans. The hero Hudibras is modeled after Don Quixote.

Tartuffe. Moliere. French. 1664. Play. Religious hypocrite and credulous wealthy fool. His wife fools Tartuffe into trying to seduce her while her husband watches--after he has deeded Tartuffe the house. Tartuffe tries to evict the family. But the king understands Tartuffe's true nature and has him thrown into jail.

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