Cover image for Absolutism and the scientific revolution, 1600-1720 : a biographical dictionary


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D205 .A27 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



This book--the sixth volume in The Great Cultural Eras of the Western World series--provides information on more than 400 individuals who created and played a role in the era's intellectual and cultural activity. The book's focus is on cultural figures--those whose inventions and discoveries contributed to the scientific revolution, those whose line of reasoning contributed to secularism, groundbreaking artists like Rembrandt, lesser known painters, and contributors to art and music.

As the momentum of the Renaissance peaked in 1600, the Western World was poised to move from the Early Modern to the Modern Era. The Thirty Years War ended in 1648 and religion was no longer a cause for military conflict. Europe grew more secularized. Organized scientific research led to groundbreaking discoveries, such as the earth's magnetic field, Kepler's first two laws of motion, and the slide rule. In the arts, Baroque painting, music, and literature evolved. A new Europe was emerging. This book is a useful basic reference for students and laymen, with entries specifically designed for ready reference.

Author Notes

CHRISTOPHER BAKER is Professor of English at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

King Louis XIV of France is quoted in the introduction to this volume as saying "L'Etat c'est moi" ("I am the state"). Alexander Pope, also quoted, wrote "God said, Let Newton be! And all was light." Louis and Isaac Newton are the personifications of, respectively, absolutism and scientific revolution. The latter's birth comes close to the beginning of the period covered in this volume of the Great Cultural Eras of the Western World series, while the former's death is at the end. Falling within this chronological range are 400 biographical entries on figures of importance to the "social, artistic, and intellectual milieu of seventeenth-century Europe." Examples include Francis Bacon, John Bunyan, Artemisia Gentileschi, Cotton Mather, Moliere, and Peter the Great The alphabetically arranged entries vary in length from half of a page to two pages. What makes these profiles worthwhile is the focus on the theme of the seventeenth century as an era of decisive change. For example, the entry on poet John Donne mentions the usual biographical information but also discusses how his work stood out from that of his contemporaries and marked a change from older poetic conventions. The work is well indexed and cross-referenced. Also included are two appendixes, arranging the entries by subject and by country. Short lists of further readings follow each entry and are augmented by a subject bibliography. Overall, this is a worthy addition to the series and highly recommended in its own right, especially for academic libraries.

Choice Review

Baker's work fills a period in "The Great Cultural Eras of the Western World" series of biographical dictionaries, whose volumes cover 800 BCE through 1914. Absolutism is defined as the increased central authority held by monarchs. The introduction is a concise yet dense overview of events that characterize this time period, from the division between the Calvinists and Roman Catholics and the tug of war between religion and science to the age of reason. This focused collection of biographies covers many personalities who can be found in more general sources such as Dictionary of Scientific Biography (16v., 1970-80). Despite a slight emphasis on science and invention, the 400 biographies span the arts, literature, politics, and religion. The 73 contributors give better notice to women than most biographical dictionaries covering historical eras. The geographic focus is very European. Appendixes categorize names by broad subject area and country. A general bibliography of references cited in the entries, a time line of major events and creative works, and a name index supplement the biographies. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Academic collections that emphasize cultural or scientific history. J. C. Shane University of New Mexico

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Chronologyp. xvii
Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720p. 1
Appendix A Entries Arranged by Subjectp. 413
Appendix B Entries Arranged by Countryp. 421
Bibliographyp. 429
Indexp. 439
About the Editor and Contributorsp. 447