baroque

Jean de La Fontaine and the Moral of the Story

Jean de La Fontaine and the Moral of the Story

On July 8, 1621, Jean de La Fontaine, the most famous French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century, was born. He is best known above all for his Fables, which provided a model for subsequent fabulists all across Europe. “History some truths contains, which well may serve  For lessons.” – Jean de la Fontaine, Fables (1668–1679), Book I (1668), Dedication “To Monseigneur the Dauphin”. The…
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Pierre Corneille and the Baroque Drama in France

Pierre Corneille and the Baroque Drama in France

On June 6, 1606, French tragedian Pierre Corneille was born. Seen on a European scale, his entire oeuvre belongs to the Baroque era. Along with Molière [1] and Jean Racine, he is considered one of the great playwrights of the French classical period. “La raison et l’amour sont ennemis jurés.” (Reason and love are sworn enemies.) – Pierre Corneille, La nourrice, La Veuve [The Widow], (1631), Youth and Literary Beginnings Pierre Corneille was the…
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Vauban or the Art of Fortress Construction

Vauban or the Art of Fortress Construction

On May 1 (or May 4), 1633, French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban was born. Considered the expert in his field, rivaled only by his Dutch contemporary, Menno van Coehoorn, his design principles served as the dominant model of fortification for nearly 100 years, while his offensive tactics remained in use until the early twentieth century. He made a number of innovations in the use of siege artillery and founded the Corps…
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Royal Botanist Charles Plumier

Royal Botanist Charles Plumier

On April 20, 1646, French botanist Charles Plumier was born. He is considered one of the most important of the botanical explorers of his time. He made three botanizing expeditions to the West Indies, which resulted in a massive work Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera (1703–04) and was appointed botanist to king Louis XIV of France. A Friar and Botanist Charles Plumier was born in Marseille and entered the order of the Minims,…
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The Phantastic Life of Cyrano de Bergerac – Forerunner of Enlightenment

The Phantastic Life of Cyrano de Bergerac – Forerunner of Enlightenment

On March 6, 1619, French novelist, playwright, epistolarian and duelist Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac was born. A bold and innovative author, his work was part of the libertine literature of the first half of the seventeenth century. Today he is best known as the inspiration for Edmond Rostand’s most noted drama Cyrano de Bergerac, which, although it includes elements of his life, also contains invention and myth. Cyrano – as he is…
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John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

On March 4, 1675, the English King Charles II appoints John Flamsteed to “The King’s Astronomical Observator” – the first English Astronomer Royal, with an allowance of £100 a year. In the same year, the Royal Greenwich Observatory was founded and Flamsteed laid the foundation stone. Youth and Education John Flamsteed was born the only son of the merchant Stephen Flamsteed and his first wife Mary Spadman from Denby in the county…
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The Assassination of Wallenstein

The Assassination of Wallenstein

On February 25, 1634, Bohemian military leader and politician Count Albrecht von Wallenstein was assassinated at Cheb in Bohemia. An imperial generalissimo of the Thirty Year’s War, and Admiral of the Baltic Sea, he had made himself ruler of the lands of the Duchy of Friedland in northern Bohemia. Wallenstein found himself released from imperial service in 1630 after Emperor Ferdinand grew wary of his ambition. “We act as we must. So…
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La Voisin and the Scandalous Affair of the Poisons

La Voisin and the Scandalous Affair of the Poisons

On February 22, 1680, Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin, aka La Voisin, was sentenced to death for witchcraft and poisoning, and burned at the stake. This Affair of the Poisons (L’affaire des poisons) was a major murder scandal in France which took place in 1677–1682, during the reign of King Louis XIV. During it, a number of prominent members of the aristocracy were implicated and sentenced on charges of poisoning and witchcraft. The scandal…
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The Burst of the Tulip Bubble

The Burst of the Tulip Bubble

On February 3, 1637, in Haarlem, Netherlands, the tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt. This should put an end to the ‘Tulip Mania‘, one of the first economic bubbles to burst. You see, financial crisis is not an invention of modern times. Already in the 17th century, in the early age of baroque, people went crazy for a good that was short of…
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The Inglourious Death of Jean-Baptiste Lully, Composer

The Inglourious Death of Jean-Baptiste Lully, Composer

On January 8, 1687, French ballet dancer and composer Jean-Baptiste Lully struck his foot with his long conducting staff during a performance of his Te Deum. Because he refused to treat the wound, it got infected and he died from gangrene soon after. Besides this inglourious way of death, Lully is considered the chief master of the French baroque style, who stripped of all Italian influences from French music of the period and…
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