enlightenment

Henry Fielding – the Father of the English Novel

Henry Fielding – the Father of the English Novel

On October 8, 1754, famous English novelist, journalist and dramatist Henry Fielding passed away. He is best known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones. Henry Fielding influenced the main tradition of the English novel through the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. One of his major contribution to the English novel was a sense of structure to its development. With his…
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Moses Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment

Moses Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment

On September 6, 1729, German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn was born, who inspired the Haskalah movement of Jewish Enlightenment in the 18th and 19th century. Haskalah was a movement among European Jews that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history. Moses Mendelssohn’s descendants include also the famous composer and pianist Felix Mendelssohn.[4] “The state gives orders and coerces, religion…
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Alessandro Cagliostro – Imposter and Adventurer

Alessandro Cagliostro – Imposter and Adventurer

On August 26, 1795, Italian physician, occultist and adventurer Giuseppe Balsamo aka Count Alessandro di Cagliostro passed away. The history and stories around Cagliostro are shrouded in rumour, propaganda, and mysticism. Some effort was expended to ascertain his true identity when he was arrested because of possible participation in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace.[4] “Appearance determines consciousness.” – Alesandro di Cagliostro, aka Giuseppe Balsamo Becoming the Count of Cagliostro Cagliostro was…
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Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – Master of Aphorism

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – Master of Aphorism

On July 1, 1742, German scientist, satirist and Anglophile Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was born. He is remembered best for his posthumously published notebooks, which he himself called Sudelbücher, a description modeled on the English bookkeeping term “scrapbooks”, and his aphorisms. A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid. He who understands…
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Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations

On June 16, 1723 (June 5 according to the old Julian calendar), Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy Adam Smith was born. He is one of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment and is best known for two classic works: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) “Among civilized and thriving nations, on the contrary,…
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Giacomo Casanova and his Underestimated Literary Legacy

Giacomo Casanova and his Underestimated Literary Legacy

On June 4, 1798, Italian adventurer and author Giacomo Girolamo Casanova passed away. Although being famous or almost notorious because of his frequent and elaborate love affairs, he also is considered to be a brilliant author. His autobiography ‘Histoire de ma vie‘ (The Story of my Life), is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century. Being associated with European…
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Encore un Moment – The Life of Madame Du Barry

Encore un Moment – The Life of Madame Du Barry

On April 22, 1769, Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry, better known as Madame du Barry, was introduced at the French court. Originally being only a seamstress, Madame du Barry should become Maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV of France and the most powerful woman in France. From Street Seller to Courtesan Madame du Barry was born in Lorraine, France and had to support herself financially at the age of 15 or 16. It is…
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The Last German Lawsuit on Witchcraft

The Last German Lawsuit on Witchcraft

On April 4, 1775, Anna Schwegelin was the last woman to be tried for witchcraft in a German court. Although she was sentenced to death by decapitation, the judgement was never executed. The Witch Hunts The classical period of witch hunts in Europe and North America falls into the Early Modern period or about 1480 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War, resulting in an estimated 40,000…
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Sir William Herschel and the Discovery of Uranus

Sir William Herschel and the Discovery of Uranus

On March 13, 1781, Sir William Herschel for the first time observed planet Uranus while in the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in the town of Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), but initially reported it (on April 26, 1781) as a “comet“. “A knowledge of the construction of the heavens has always been the ultimate object of my observations…” – William Herschel, Astronomical Observations relating…
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Caspar Friedrich Wolff – the Founder of Embryology

Caspar Friedrich Wolff – the Founder of Embryology

On January 18, 1734, German physiologist Caspar Friedrich Wolff was born. He is recognized as one of the founders of embryology. In Theoria Generationis (1759) he first wrote an epigenetic theory of development: that the organs of living things take shape gradually from non-specific tissue. Youth and Education Caspar Friedrich Wolff was born in Berlin in 1734 as the son of master tailor Johann Wolff and his wife Anna Sophie Wolff née Stiebeler.…
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