enlightenment

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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Jean-Pierre Blanchard and the Balloonomania

Jean-Pierre Blanchard and the Balloonomania

On January 7, 1785, French inventor, aviation pioneer and balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard crossed the English channel in a balloon flying from Dover Castle to Guînes for the first time. After the first balloon flights of the Montgolfier brothers a veritable “baloonomania” evolved with all manner of objects decorated with images of balloons or styled au ballon, from ceramics to fans and hats. Balloonomania Just two years before, the two brothers and business partners, Joseph-Michel…
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Man is Man’s Wolf – Thomas Hobbes and his Leviathan

Man is Man’s Wolf – Thomas Hobbes and his Leviathan

On December 4, 1679, Thomas Hobbes passed away. The philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment and the political theorist of the Absolutism is probably best known for his 1651 book Leviathan that established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory. “I know not how the world will receive it, nor how it may reflect on those that shall seem to favor it. For in a way…
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You are either a Spinozist or not a Philosopher at all

You are either a Spinozist or not a Philosopher at all

On November 24, 1632, Jewish-Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Sephardi origin Baruch Spinoza was born. By laying the groundwork for the Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe, Spinoza came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. “Beauty, my dear Sir, is not so much a quality of the object beheld, as an effect in him who beholds it. If our sight…
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Voltaire – Libertarian and Philosopher

Voltaire – Libertarian and Philosopher

On November 21, 1694, François-Marie Arouet was born, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, French philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment, re-known by his wits, prolific writer of novels, poems, essays, and letters, and dear friend of Prussian king Frederick the Grea.[6] “We should be considerate to the living; to the dead we owe only the truth.” – Voltaire in a letter to M. de Grenonville (1719) Origin and further Troubles…
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Jean Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert  and the Great Encyclopedy

Jean Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert and the Great Encyclopedy

On November 16, 1717, French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist Jean Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert was born. He was one of the most important mathematicians and physicists of the 18th century and a philosopher of the Enlightenment.  Probably he is best known as co-editor with Denis Diderot of the famous Encyclopédie, edited between 1751 and 1772.[5] “Nothing is more incontestable than the existence of our sensations; …” — Jean Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert,…
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Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts

Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts

On July 31, 1784, French philosopher, art critic, and writer Denis Diderot passed away. Diderot is best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d’Alembert.[1] He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment. “From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.” — Denis Diderot, Essai sur le Mérite de la Vertu (1745) Denis Diderot was born on October 5, 1713, the second…
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