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Europe: The 17th Century

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Queen Christina of Sweden debates with Rene Descartes

Queen Christina of Sweden debates with Rene Descartes

Europe in the 17th Century

The story of Europe in the 17th century is a fascinating tale. By the end of the 17th century, "Christendom" started to fade as a term, and a new term, "Europe," began to be increasingly used in its place.

This is not because Europe had become less Christian; it is largely because Christendom implies unity, and the unity of Christendom had been shattered by the middle of the 17th century by the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of the sovereign nation states that put their own interests first.

 Home life in 17th century Christendom

Home life in 17th century Christendom

17th century Lucerne, Switzerland

17th century Lucerne, Switzerland

Life in 17th Century Europe

The large and prosperous cities of Christendom in the 17th century—London, Paris, Amsterdam, Geneva, and Strasbourg—were merely mud holes with lots of houses in them by modern standards. Streets were unpaved or poorly paved, and all of them doubled as open sewers as people dumped their waste from chamber pots into the narrow streets. Only Venice stood out as truly a beautiful city.

There were few windows in the 17th century, and they were taxed as a luxury item in many places. Houses featured one large chamber, and it was here that birth, life, and death took place; it was also the room in which the master of the house conducted business. Hence, the word chamber carries on by Chamber of Commerce and Judge in Chambers.

Chairs now had arms, fixed cushions, and higher backs. Boxes for storage had become chests of drawers. Whole families often slept together, mostly naked. Even visitors would pile in. The elderly usually wore a gown and nightcap. In hospitals, inns, and boarding houses you had to share your bed, sometimes with strangers.

Except in Italy, there were no plates or forks. You would eat with your fingers. Even spoons (and later forks) were only for serving, not for individual use. The custom of washing your hands before a meal was established by the 17th century. Leftovers were given to servants, and their leftovers to the poor. There were no vegetarians because there were hardly any vegetables.

Public bath houses were closed in Europe during the 17th century to control syphilis and prostitution. And so regular bathing came to an end. Clothes were dirty and worn in thick layers. High heels for upper-class women started to come into vogue. People who could afford them began wearing wigs, this allowed members of the upper crust to shave their heads in order to rid themselves of head lice.

Witches Cauldron

Witches Cauldron


The witch craze reached its apex in the 17 century. It is here we find academic studies at universities of night-flying on broomsticks, spells and curses, the ingredients of the witches' cauldron. Of particular interest was the witches' sabbath sexual orgies, at which the Devil would appear as a stinking goat-man who liked to be kissed under his tail.

The word wicked is from the same root as witch; as is Wicca.

The Alchemists

The Alchemists


Alchemists were the forerunners of scientists. and perhaps of modern philosophers. Alchemists sought the 'philosophers stone,' a substance of legend that could turn base metals into gold and be used as an elixir of life. Alchemists had to acquire knowledge across a wide range of subjects, to include astrology, numerology, lapidary, herbal medicine, and chemistry.

In 1606, the Habsburg Archdukes complained of Emperor Rudolph II that he "is only interested wizards, alchemists, cabbalists, and the like." Rudolph held court in Prague, where he supported the occult arts. Europe was fascinated by the occult in the 17th century, and alchemists were viewed as the most important 'secret artists.'

The symbol of the Rosicrucian Order

The symbol of the Rosicrucian Order

The Rosicrucian Order

The Rosicrucian (rosy cross) Order was a secret society of eight doctors who were also Protestant mystics. It was founded early in the 17th century in Germany by Christian Rosenkreuz. The Rosicrucian Order believed that there are ancient esoteric truths hidden from the common man, which once rediscovered will provide insight into the physical and spiritual realms.

The Rosicrucian Order was instrumental in the rise of Freemasonry, and is credited with inspiring the Invisible College, which later became the Royal Society of London.

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The Rosicrucian Order still exists today, descended from the Scottish branch of the Rosicrucian Order. Only a Christian Master Mason may be a member.

Robert Fluud (1574-1637) was the prime defender of the Rosicrucian Order during his lifetime. Robert Fluud—who was also an occultist—is the first man to theorize (correctly) that blood circulates through people, with the heart as the center of circulation.

Juggler of the Vagabonds

Juggler of the Vagabonds


Gypsies were not the only people living beyond the margins of settled society in Europe of the 17th century. There were also traveling bands of vagabonds, some of whom mutilated themselves for pity's sake.

These vagabonds shared the open road with Gypsies. Vagabonds even had guilds with their own special rules of conduct for pickpockets, thieves, burglars, peddlers, beggars, cripples, jugglers, fortune-tellers, tinkers, whores, and musicians.

The secret language of the vagabonds became known as jargon.

Flamenco dancer

Flamenco dancer

Flamenco Music

Flamenco music is a style of Gypsy music that originated in the 17th century Andalusia region of Spain. Flamenco music is an art form that features foot-stamping dance, dramatic poses, and raucous, plaintive singing.

You know flamenco music when you hear it, with its pulsating guitars and castanets. Flamenco actually means Flemish.

Claudio Monteverdi (ecthing by Barberis)

Claudio Monteverdi (ecthing by Barberis)


The first Opera, L'Orfeo, was performed in 1607. Its creator was the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi, who described it as "a fable set to music." The libretto, or words, were written by Alessandro Striggio, who also invented madrigal comedy.

Opera is meant to imitate the ancient Greek dramas. L'Orfeo includes music, singing, spoken dialogue, and dancing. It combines spectacle with drama and music. The musical instruments included trombones, flutes, and recorders.

Ballet was introduced into opera late in the 17th century. In the 18th century, we see the invention of comedic opera—the ancestor of the Broadway musical comedy. In the 19th century, we find the first Grand Opera with its huge cast, full orchestra, and lavish sets. Verdi, Puccini, and Wagner are generally considered the best opera composers in history.

St Peter's Collanade designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

St Peter's Collanade designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is the outstanding person of Rome in the 17th century. Gian Lorenzo Bernini contributed to 45 major buildings constructed in Rome in the 17th century, the centerpiece being St. Peter's Square. But Catholic Rome had reached the end of its glory days.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini—a deeply religious man—was also a tremendous sculptor, as well as a painter and playwright. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed many of the famous fountains of Rome, and much of the interior in St. Peter's Basilica. He is known today as the exemplar for baroque architecture.

The 17th century Bourgeoisie

The 17th century Bourgeoisie


Bourgeoisie means a lot of things to different people. Literally, bourgeoisie means the city dwellers (from the word burgher, itself derived from the word burg).

In the 17th century, city dwellers were mostly merchants and traders—free enterprise capitalists. To those in the monarchy government, these Bourgeoisie were the people who created a nation's wealth.

As the secular power of the Church—and the power of the nobility—declined in 17th century Christendom, the bourgeoisie became the most powerful force in most countries. The bourgeoisie dominated the economy and the culture.

Aristocrats began to use the word bourgeoisie perjoratively to denote the lack of taste and refinement of those "below" them.

Peasants—later goaded on by Karl Marx and other Socialists—began to use the word bourgeoisie perjoratively to denote those in control of goods and services (merchants and traders) who must be crooked since they have been more successful.

The bourgeoisie rose up because they knew how to read, write, and do arithmetic. Their number included physicians, lawyers, builders, artists, and writers. The bourgeoisie was never a monolithic group of people, but persons of various stations according to wealth, occupation, education, talent, and manners.

The bourgeoisie were the driving force behind the blossoming of Europe. As trade flourished, new and better roads were built for all citizens to use.

Monarchy government came to realize that the bourgeoisie were those people who were most literate, well reared, professional, and yes, sometimes well-heeled (good quality shoes were unavailable to the poor). Therefore, monarchy government recruited from the bourgeoisie for help in the administration of the affairs of state.




Duels could be triggered by a mere look in 17th century Europe. Men took their 'honor' very seriously. Duels with swords (later duels with pistols) became the most common way to settle the indignity of a insult, or a quarrel over a woman. To tolerate an affront to one's honor was to be a coward without self-respect.

In France alone it is estimated that 12 men died every week in duels in 17th century Europe. Duels were a way to resolve conflict without it escalating into an ongoing family feud; murder done by stealth or ambush; or troubling the courts with matters below their notice. Strict rules were in place for duels, and the duels were managed by assistants called "seconds."

The Jester

The Jester


All rulers have to take advice from somebody. Absolute rulers, such as those in monarchy government, rarely get sincere advice, since honest advice could be dangerous to the adviser if he were to contradict the king. The exception to this rule was long the Court Jesters, or Fools.

The institution of Court Jesters is a political device based on sound psychology. The jesters are never quite normal; jesters have the innocent mind of a child; jesters tell the king truths others dare not tell—though cloaked in comedy, riddles, and playacting. The jesters are court entertainers, with bells on their shoes and caps.

The English Crown  (St Edwards Crown) features 444 precious stones

The English Crown (St Edwards Crown) features 444 precious stones


There had been kings in Christendom for a thousand years, but in the 17th century a new political order was needed to restore order, stability, and peace. A monarchy goverment that commanded loyalty through absolute power became the new symbol of the nation-state. The idea of the nation-state was partly to enlarge the scope of one's attachment to the place of one's birth.

Under monarchy government, we see the thirst for titles develop. A favor or decoration from the monarchy government became a prized thing of immense value.

War had bankrupted most of Europe. And the new warfare was terribly expensive. Fortresses, cannons, and firearms are far more costly than bows and arrows.

Most wealth was now concentrated in the countries with the most land and prosperous cities. The monarchy government needed support from everyone: peasants, artisans, merchants, nobles, and clerics.

No monarchy government could do without the support of the Church. The Church had wealth—but more importantly it was a powerful molder of public opinion. Christianity gave the clearest picture of moral and physical reality. Nearly all Europeans were Christians.

The Church was the dispenser of all social services; it provided the schools and the hospitals. The Church taught the children, and took care of the poor, the sick, and the troubled. The Church gathered all people together regularly, and thus provided a sense of community among people.

A monarchy government could not simply do as it wanted. No, it was bound by civil law, criminal law, and a whole set of customs.

Monarchy government was vested in the eldest son of the one family known to all. This was to ensure stability through continuity. The reason it was said "The king is dead, long live the king!" is that the old and new kings are the same kingship that is wished a long life.

The coronation of Louis XIV of France

The coronation of Louis XIV of France


The coronation of a monarch was all about impressing the people through the symbolism and drama of pageantry. Before the coronation, the leaders of a nation's civil, military, and religious orders arrive in procession to attend mass and witness the unction (anointing) of the new king. The prelate declares "Almighty and eternal God, who hast raised Thy servant to be king, grant that he shall secure the good of his subjects and that he shall never stray from the path of justice and truth. "

The king must promise to protect the church; he takes his oath of office with his hand on the Holy Scriptures. Prayers follow. The king then lies facedown toward the altar as seven unctions are administered to him. Choral music resounds. The king promises charity to the poor, a good example to the rich, and to keep the nation at peace.

The clergy thus confers the elements of power. The archbishop places the crown on the king's head. The coronation is complete.

At the death of a good monarch the people wail and weep—at home, in church, and in the streets. They pray between their bouts of grief. The loss is personal and intense and charged with anxiety about the future. Such collective emotion about the death of rulers is only felt today after certain assassinations.

Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. 10 are about kingship and its duties, legitimacy and challenges to it from noble lords. 692 times in these plays, Shakespeare uses the word "honor. "

Now a double loyalty was in place: to God and to King. We pray to the Lord; we petition to our lord the king. The monarchy government reigned after the coronation by the grace of God and exercised power under His watchful eye.

The king is no ordinary person, he is the father of his people. More than representing people, the king embodies them. This is why edicts from monarchy government begins with "we" and not "I."

Queen Christina of Sweden debates Descartes (painting by Nils Forsberg)

Queen Christina of Sweden debates Descartes (painting by Nils Forsberg)

Sweden in the 17th Century

Sweden was a powerful nation in the first half of 17th century. It was a Protestant power to reckoned with, with an awesome military nicknamed "the terror of the north."

Queen Christina abdicated her throne in 1650 to devote herself to study, and this upset the unity in Sweden.

Poland in the 17th Century

Poland had its golden age in the 17th century as well. This came to an end with the 1667 Treaty of Andrusovo, which surrendered Kiev, Ukraine, and Belarus to the Russians.

The once great nation of Poland was squeezed out by the Russians on one side, and the Prussians on the other. Prussia (the old Teutonic State) returned to prominence in the 17th century after it unified with Brandenburg in 1618.

Russia in the 17th Century

Russia, sometimes called Muscovy in those days, became a strong state after the efforts of Ivan the Terrible, whose two chief achievements were to separate the Russian Church from the Eastern Orthodox Church, and to slaughter all of his opponents.

The House of Romanov was established in 1613, and would reign over Russia for 305 years.

Spain in the 17th Century

Spain declines in power and prestige in the 17th century. It had been the greatest power on earth in the previous century, unmatched in its grandeur. Leading to its demise as a European powerhouse were the loss of the Spanish Armada in 1588, followed by plagues, agricultural failures, depopulation, and bankruptcy.

Spain lost Portugal in 1640, and its long wars with France drained the treasury of its once incredible wealth.

17th century Dutch bourgeoisie

17th century Dutch bourgeoisie

The Netherlands in the 17th Century

The Netherlands became a European powerhouse in the 17th century. It accomplished this by implementing a powerful navy, democracy, capitalism, and prudent management. The Netherlands of this period produced many famous bankers, engineers, sailors, and artists.

The Netherlands became a safe haven for religious dissenters because of its religious tolerance. Many who fled to the Netherlands were wise merchants, painters, and philosophers. The art is spectacular, what with Rubens, Van Dyck, Vermeer, and Rembrandt all based in the Netherlands (called "Holland" in England) during the 17th century.

The Netherlands became the first modern state. It featured fantastic cities, filled with frugal, hard-working, God-fearing people—many of whom specialized in business. Soon Europe would be filled with tales of the windmills, canals, tulips, and black and white cattle of the Netherlands.

Tulip cultivation began in the Netherlands in 1593. By 1637, tulip mania had set in. People went crazy over these flowers. The demand caused prices of tulips to rise to incredible heights. Tulips became a status symbol. One Dutch merchant sold half his assets for a single tulip bulb—not to sell, but merely to show off that he had one.

Exchange markets were set up in several Dutch cities. The tulips were valued according to color and weight. Soon speculators were trading in tulip futures. Poor people grew rich over night; rich people went bust in a day. All of this led to a tremendous "tulip bubble"—there is no way any mere flower was worth that much money. In 1637 the bubble burst. The tulip market collapsed, buyers defaulted, vendors sued, bankruptcies abounded, debtors ended up in prison.

Pike and Shot Formation of the Thirty Years War (photo by Peter Isotalo)

Pike and Shot Formation of the Thirty Years War (photo by Peter Isotalo)

The Thirty Years War

The Thirty Years War is often miscategorized as a religious war, particularly by anti-Christians. No doubt there were religious elements to this devastating misadventure; but it was far more than Catholics versus Protestants.

The main part of the war ended up being France against the Habsburgs—Catholics against other Catholics—in war that was to settle who would dominate Europe. It was about land and political power—not religion.

Protestant Sweden allied itelf with Catholic France in the fighting. The Italian States battled each other for hundreds of years, in spite of their common Catholicism.

Battles between Spain and France were romanticized in The Three Musketeers. France defeated Spain, routing the once-considered invincible Spanish infantry.

The end of the Thirty Years War left Germany in ruins but left France the largest, richest, most populous, and most war-like nation in Europe.

The Germans were considered the poor step-children of Christendom, their minds dull but full of fanciful dreams; their art, language, and manners backward and coarse. The fact is that, religion aside, Spain, France, Sweden, and Denmark all coveted German lands.

The religion part played its chief role in that the Germans were easy pickings because they were fighting a religious war amongst themselves, Protestants in the north, Catholics in the south. In the midst of this civil war, the Germans were attacked on all sides by those whose motivations were decidedly unreligious. The overall war looked like opportunity for some oppressed religious groups to revolt, true, and they did, notably the Bohemians and Huguenots.

The signing of the Treaty of Westphalia (painting by Gerard Terborch)

The signing of the Treaty of Westphalia (painting by Gerard Terborch)

Map of Europe in 1648

Map of Europe in 1648

The Peace of Westphalia

The Peace of Westphalia (1648) was a series of treaties that ended the Thirty Years War. No more were there to be religious wars of Catholics against Protestants in Christendom. It also spelled the beginning of the end of the widespread use of that term "Christendom" in favor of a newly popular term: Europe.

Germany had been decimated by the Thirty Years War. Up to a third of its population lay dead. Whole cities stood in ruins; trade had virtually ceased. A generation of war, pillage, famine, and disease had stripped Germany bare of agriculture and livestock.

The Peace of Westphalia established the idea of what a nation is: sovereign and independent. The Netherlands and Switzerland were new nations as of the signing of these treaties.

Europe was now split apart into a group of distinct societies, each with their own language, laws, manners, and arts.

17th century attire in Christendom

17th century attire in Christendom

Christendom in the 17th Century

Hasty moral and intellectual judgments about people in the past are a form of injustice. It is deplorable to transfer the way you wish things to be unto people of previous eras. They had to deal with their own set of urgencies.

Human beings in groups tend to do as they please unless prevented by stronger groups. Within a nation, peace and justice cannot prevail without the threat and use of force. It is therefore unrealistic to assume that self-restraint—which fails to control crime within a nation—will deter foreign nations whose interests clash with ours. This is political science 101.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 05, 2011:

sonia05— You are quite welcome! Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I surely appreciate your gracious accolades. It is good to hear from you again! :-)

sonia05 from india on July 03, 2011:

Wow! This is a wonderful hub full of information,history told in your own words! Very interesting,well researched and very well written!

Thank you for sharing Mr.Watkins!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 03, 2011:

Lily— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

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James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 28, 2010:

no body— I meant no disrespect, my fine and valued court jester. Please accept me humble apologies. I cannot duel with you as you have higher power with which to vanquish me to the netherworlds.

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on October 27, 2010:

Thou calleth me a fool simply because I wear bells on my hat and shoes? Sir you have dishonored me! I will meet thee in the clearing at mid-day. Bringeth thy best sword, the one with the gilted handle because I shall take it to me after I teachest thee respect! Good day sir!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 09, 2010:

Allan McGregor— Thank you for your gracious compliments, brother. Coming from such an erudite man as yourself this is very meaningful to me.

I'll be writing soon about the history of Britain in the 17th century. I would have included that here but I had too much great material and so decided to bust it out into its own Hub. The research is done. I just need to write it out. Glencoe featured treachery that is remarkable, methinks.

Thank you for your astute observations. Always a pleasure to read.

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on October 08, 2010:

You've done it again, James.

A fascinating whistlestop tour around 17th Europe. Nicely done.

You are right about honour. The infamous 'Glencoe Massacre' of 1692, provoked a scandal that almost brought down the king, but not for the reasons we would suppose today.

Our 2010 sensibilities baulk at the idea of the king's troops hacking down men, women and children fleeing through the snow. But such was the 17th social political paradigm that such a massacre was almost unremarkable. What shocked the whole of Europe was that the Campbell soldiers has been housed as the guests of their MacDonald victims.

While the massacre of innocent civilians was almost par for the course by the standards of the day, such a betrayal of hospitality was considered unforgiveable.

Monarchy still survives in the United States under the guise of the Presidency, which is really just an elected form of monarchy.

And I liked your description of vagabonds:

'Vagabonds even had guilds with their own special rules of conduct for pickpockets, thieves, burglars, peddlers, beggars, cripples, jugglers, fortune-tellers, tinkers, whores, and musicians. The secret language of the vagabonds became known as jargon.'

Ah yes, Vagabonds are still among us too - Except that nowadays we call them Politicians.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 07, 2010:

libby101a— You are most welcome! Thank you for coming! Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 07, 2010:

v_kahleranderson— You are welcome, VKA. It is gratifying to read your words of appreciation for my work. I did try to make history come alive a bit. It can be drudgery. I would love to teach history. If I had the credentials, I would. I have always loved history.

I surely agree about the beauty of tulips. The hygeiene of those days was nearly non-existent. Imagine the smells!

Thank you for the love, hugs, and blessings. You never fail to cheer me up and inspire me to greater heights.


libby101a from KY on October 07, 2010:

Thanks for the good read! Very informative! Well written!!!

v_kahleranderson from San Jose, California on October 06, 2010:

First I’d like to say that I am hugely impressed, Mr. Watkins, with all the historical information you have amassed for this hub. Wow! History has never held my interest. It has always been, simply, boring to me – all the politics and war-rings. And I never liked memorizing dates.

But I really and truly enjoyed your hub today, James. I felt like I was really there – though I received a history lesson. Reading today felt as if I relieved all the time-changes. So, this was most vividly and wonderfully told. Thank you!

My children, all three, were homeschooled, and though they didn’t like having to learn “historical dates,” they didn’t mind the history stories. I hated history classes during my days in school. I think it would have been nice to have had you as my History teacher. :)

FYI – Tulips really are exquisitely beautiful, so it is not unrealistic to imagine why many of the people then fell under their spell. And I would not even dare to judge people of that time. As you said, “They had to deal with their own set of urgencies.” My real complaint about those days, is their lack of hygiene and toilets. But of course, I would complain about this. I was born in Latin America, I know first-hand of not having a real bathroom but a real hole in the ground. Otherwise, many of us do fantasize about the 17th century.

God bless, keep and protect you, James. And here's sending you love and hugs.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 05, 2010:

saket71— Thank you very much for your kind compliments. I'll come over soon and read some of your work.

saket71 from Delhi, India on October 05, 2010:

Excellent and informative hub, must say it tells bloggers like me how far we are yet to travel.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 05, 2010:

itakins— Thank you for your gracious compliments. I enjoyed putting this piece together.

itakins from Irl on October 04, 2010:


This is great -nice easy reading -but loads of information.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 04, 2010:

ama83— I, too, am fascinated by the Jesters. If you could picture the atmosphere, I must have done a pretty good job. Thank you for saying so. I greatly appreciate your support. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 04, 2010:

American Romance— Your wish is my command. I just now published a Hub about America. Thank you for your gracious comments. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this one.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 04, 2010:

Polly— Or Molly— :D

I know what you mean. I got stuck with James A Watkins, too, through no fault of my own. I wanted Tall Handsome Genius.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 04, 2010:

nifty@50— I know exactly what you mean about the smell and filth. I think it would overpower our delicate sensibilities. And senses. Thank you for reading my article. I appreciate your kind compliments, too.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 04, 2010:

singlmomat52— You are quite welcome, my dear. Thank you so much for the laudations! It makes a man feel mighty good! :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 04, 2010:

tonymac04— Thank you very much for saying so, Tony. I would love to visit that museum. I hadn't heard of it before. Yes, I imagine the odor is unpleasant. Let's hope they use odor-eaters. Love and Peace back at ya.


ama83 from San Jose, CA on October 04, 2010:

What a great travel through time! I love the details you give; I can picture the olden streets and feel the atmosphere around me.

Though the whole hub was interesting, in particular, I found the jester's role fascinating. I always found it interesting to think that rulers would take advice from someone who wasn't taken completely seriously. But, perhaps this is how rulers justified disagreeing with their jesters at times; they are known as fools, so why listen to them? Unless it is convenient to do so :)

American Romance from America on October 04, 2010:

Interesting write, enjoyed it, ...........Now do America and make sure it makes liberals look as bad as they really are! LOL,

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

ESTAN FULLER— Hello Captain! I surely agree with you about the Greatest Generation. I love your idea about the History of Aviation. Perhaps you can email me some hot points you wouldn't want to see missed. There is a lot of material there. I will begin the research tomorrow. Thank you my good friend!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

Rebecca E.— Why, thank you very much for the applause. I am gratified to read your kind remarks. It is always good to hear from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

coffeesnob— Thank you, CS, for the high ratings and the accolades. I am well pleased that you appreciate my writing style. And you are welcome.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

cheaptrick— The bell has rung, my friend. School is back in session. :D

I am glad to provide you with new material. I'm going to take you up on that drink. And no, you have never offended my in the slightest, Dean. I enjoy your wittiness.


Pollyannalana from US on October 03, 2010:

It was very insightful although it still did not answer why they have freedom of religion in school after Christians having theirs taken away and I am going to look more into the expense part. And please, you can call me Polly, or you can call me Molly, but you don't have to call me Pollyannalana. I feel sorry I got that name when I see people type it all out, but someone already had my other choices.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

pcoach— What nice things to say. Thank you for your gracious words. I love history, love reading about it, writing about it. And you are welcome. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

Pollyannalana— Sorry, I missed it. I took a short trip this weekend and just now returned. Appreciate the tip though.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2010:

DjBryle— You are welcome. Thank you very much for the laudations and for the ratings you gave me. It helps! You don't find many folks who would want to live in past times (except maybe the 50s). I saw a survey that asked if people would rather live today making $30,000 a year or live in 1900 as a millionaire, and only like 5% chose 1900.

nifty@50 on October 03, 2010:

What a daunting task, to account for different slices of culture in a given period of history! Very well done! I could only Imagine the degree of filth and stench of that era and it's effect on a modern day visitor!

singlmomat52 on October 03, 2010:

Such a wealth of information, Thank you!!!Every Hub you write is a lesson in History. Excellent Hub!!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on October 03, 2010:

Great Hub and a very interesting read.

Some years ago on a visit to Germany I went to the Goetheshaus Museum where I saw the great wardrobe where all clothes and linen were stored for about a year until the great wash day arrived in spring. One can only speculate about the odour!

Love and peace


ESTAN FULLER on October 03, 2010:

HI James; Very good,but glad I grew up in the 30's and 40's. My Parents were part of the greatest generation there ever was.They helped win WW2. If you ever get the time would like to see you do a hub on Aviation from the Wright brothers through today and as far into the future as you can realistically see.Don't forget deregulation !! Your Friend Capt. Estan Fuller Ret

Rebecca E. from Canada on October 02, 2010:

my hats off to your James on this great hub, not only does it cover a time of change that was unique, but you are simply amazing with all teh facts, bravo on an excellent lens.

coffeesnob on October 02, 2010:

James this was excellent..voted up and useful... so much info here I did not know like the Rosicrucian order and its beginnings and ultimate formation into the Freemasons..

thanks for your deliberate and informational way of thinking and producing hubs that are fascinating


cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on October 02, 2010:

Hey Dude,I see school is back in session.Good cause I was running out of facts to Impress my friends down at Scullys!Now I can make them think I'm Brilliant with the Info from this hub.Hope I didn't offend you last time around,just my clumsy way of cheering you up.

My offer to buy the Heineken's and Jack D still stands Bro:)


pcoach on October 01, 2010:

James, we are so lucky to have you here on hubpages. It's like having our own history professor for free and on-demand!

You make history fun and I feel confident that you are providing good, historically-true information.

Thank you for your interest in history and your desire to share it with us.

Pollyannalana from US on October 01, 2010:

In case you come back tonight, Islam is suppose to be covered on 20/20 ABC 10PM eastern. Might be interesting.

DjBryle from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =) on October 01, 2010:

Truly very fascinating... although I would not choose to live on that era. lol! Anyway, as always you never fail to fascinate your reader, thanks for sharing another informative and very entertaining hub! Voted up and rated awesome, useful and definitely beautiful because it is! =)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 01, 2010:

DeBorrah K. Ogans— You are most welcome, my dear.

I do try to be succinct! I am glad you like the illustrations. I love history very much. I suppose it shows by my subject choices.

I sure appreciate the marvelous accolades you gave me. I am thankful for you and your words. You always inspire, and in a way, comfort me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 01, 2010:

fred allen— Thank you for being a fan of my work. I am a fan of your writings as well. I am well pleased to befriend another history buff as myself. I held back on the religious side of Christendom in the 17th century because I am going to write a new Hub about that: Faith in 17th century Christendom. Coming soon. I am also going to publish one about science in this period.

Yes, you are right: the bourgeoisie remains a favorite target of the intelligentsia and the peasantry. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 01, 2010:

Dave Sibole— I am grateful that you read it all the way through. I am well pleased to see you describe it as enlightening and captivating. Thank you for these accolades!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 01, 2010:

menomania— You are welcome. I am glad you find my writings interesting and educational. That makes a man feel good. Thank you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 01, 2010:

cristina327— Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read my Hub. Your comments are gratifying and inspiring. And you are most welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 01, 2010:

bayoulady— A masterpiece!? Well, that is high praise indeed. I am grateful to you for offering these encouraging words. Thank you for reading my article. Your daughter is right. :)

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on October 01, 2010:

James A Watkins, Instructive succinct history of Christendom! Amazing the amount of territory so cleverly covered. You have given us useable insight to better understand the culture and practices of the masses during the 17th century. Yet still quite revelant to us today!

Marvelous illustrations!

Your love for history is apparent in your carefully prepared presentation. Very well researched as usual, Professor! Excellent and fascinating; another enjoyable 21st century on line class! Wonderful lecture! Bravo!

Thank you as always for sharing, In His Love, Joy Peace & Blessings!

fred allen from Myrtle Beach SC on September 30, 2010:

Just wanted you to know that I am a fan of yours James. I will support you with a comment everytime I read what you write.I am an avid history buff, and what has happened in the past IS of relevence today. This was informative and I am glad I read it. Even more than that I am glad that you don't shy away from topics having to do with the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what angle you come from, your devotion to His cause rings true. I applaud you for that.

BTW does the part about bourgeoisie sound familiar in todays politics? Tea Party comes to my mind.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

SirDent— It is a pleasure to hear from you again, my old friend. We go back aways on HubPages. Thank you for your laudatory remarks. I am gratified to read them.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

Nell Rose— Thank you, Nell, for your inspiring accolades. I did not know that "wicca" meant wise woman. Thanks for filling in that blank. I don't think it meant "wicked"; I think the word "wicked" was derived from the word "wicca". I am well pleased that you liked this article. :-)


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

Wayne Brown— Hello, my friend. Thank you, WB, for reading my long piece and leaving your regards. You are welcome.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

aware— Thank you, Ray. Thank you very much! :D


Dave Sibole from Leesburg, Oh on September 30, 2010:

Usually avoid reading long hubs but was captivated and read it all the way through. Very interesting and enlightening. Thanks.

menomania from Elmira, New York on September 30, 2010:

Once again you gave us some very interesting reading. I learn something every time I read your writings. Thanks and God bless.

Cristina Santander from Manila on September 30, 2010:

Excellent hub which presents a well-written account of christianity in the 17th century. This hub indeed contains a great wealth of information that could be of great help to students of christian history. Thank you for sharing this marvelous hub. Great job ! Blessings to you.

bayoulady from Northern Louisiana,USA on September 30, 2010:

Such a well researched and comprehensive piece just should not be called a hub! This is certainly a masterpiece. Any professor would be glad to get his hands on this. it's better than Cliff notes!

I was unaware about the family bed, with visitors sometimes included. My fifth grade grandaughter has the correct phrase for that.....EEwwwww!

SirDent on September 30, 2010:

I love your knowledge and reasearch of history. Everytime I come to one of your hubs I know I am going to get a lesson.

Nell Rose from England on September 30, 2010:

Hi, James, this was fantastic, I love my history! it certainly was a strange time back then, the one thing I wanted to add was that when you said that wicca meant wicked, but it really was an old word for wise woman too. this was so detailed, I loved it! brilliant! cheers nell

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

Hello, hello,— You are welcome! Thank you for your astute observations regarding my attempt to give an overall view of Christendom as a whole. I always enjoy hearing from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

Ictodd1947— You are most welcome, my dear. I do hope you come back and finish reading it. I know it is a plate full. It's about as short as I could make such a sweeping story covering 100 years. Thank you for visiting. I appreciate your kind comments.

Wayne Brown from Texas on September 30, 2010:

Sounds like the liberals were in charge, James! Thanks for a good and interesting slice of history. WB

Raymond Williams from Westpalmbeach on September 30, 2010:

interesting stuff good job


Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 30, 2010:

There isn't any more words which has been said already, all the way down, acknowledging your great and comprehensive hub. I really enjoyed the way you put it all together. Usually, you read one of this country and one of that country. Yet, you miss the overall picture. That is exactly what you achieved with this hub. Thank you.

Linda Todd from Charleston on September 30, 2010:

My goodness what history....I could not read it all at this moment but I must come back to finish. It is so detailed and gives me information I did not know. Thanks for taking your time to put this together to share with us. Great work as always.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

lone77star— I appreciate your wonderful response! Isn't it amazing how one teacher can make all the difference in a student liking or disliking a subject? Thank you very much for visiting, and you are most welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

Pollyannalana— Thank you! Thank you very much. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 30, 2010:

Jason R. Manning— Thank you for taking the time to read my work. I appreciate your affirmation. I savored your remarks. We are of like mind, my friend. I look forward to reading more of your brilliant Hubs.


Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on September 29, 2010:

Educational, entertaining and enlightening!

James, this was a work of art.

In 11th grade World History class, some forty years ago, I learned to love history. Our teacher, Mrs. Hendry, had lived in China as a child. She informed us that we would not be concentrating on memorizing dates; but that we would be learning motivations -- human drama. I was hooked!

Thanks for helping to keep the hook cinched in. A delightful ride.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

CASE1WORKER— I have only been to the UK once, and I was captivated with the historical sites. It must be wonderful to live among them. I thank you for visiting my Hub and for your warm words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

hybridway— You are welcome. Thank you very much for your encouraging comments. I am grateful to receive them. I appreciate your compliments. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

CMerritt— You are welcome. Life is a serious affair. I feel sorry for those who think man's destiny is merely a hole six feet under ground; that life has no meaning or purpose. The gift of salvation is available to all. Sorry, now I'm drifting! Thank you and you are most welcome. :-)

Pollyannalana from US on September 29, 2010:


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

allpurposeguru— You are welcome, friend. There is only so much that can be covered in 3,033 words. Even then, it is a bit long for a Hub. I did the best I could. I had to keep moving. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

H P Roychoudhury— If it is vivid, then I have done my job. Thank you very much for saying so, my friend.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

RevLady— You are welcome, melady. I love to write about history. Stories need to be told, and understood. It helps to comprehend how we got here from there. I'm glad you liked the photos. Thank you for being an encourager. You are the true professor here.


Jason R. Manning from Sacramento, California on September 29, 2010:

Hi James, big ditto from me as well.

The “Tulip Bubble” is a fascinating reminder of us replaying history over and over. Your thoughtful commentary about modern judges of old is spot on. 20/20 hindsight always affords harsh critics an arsenal of stones to chuck.

In every generation there are innovative people who know how to make a dollar and then there are those who deride the capitalist as a cheater. It is sad that so many personality types have not changed a bit. But I digress, wonderfully molded hub you have here.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

stars439— I like the Jesters, too, my friend. I am grateful to read your laudatory remarks. Thank you for the affirmation. It is always good to hear from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

Rod Marsden— Thank you for your kind compliments. Yes, actors were like vagabonds. I had so much material about 17th century England from my research that I kept it aside for its own Hub, which I will produce soon.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

De Greek— Why, thank you, brother. I appreciate your participation. I enjoy this sort of work.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

reddog 1027— You are welcome. Thank you for taking my remedial course. It was great fun to put together for me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

Brian S— How good to see you again. Yes, I am halfway through the second draft of my book. The revisions were taxing my brain, plus I kept piling on new material, so I decided to step back from it for a month and write Hubs. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

Robert— Thank you, my brother, for your gracious remarks. As you know I have been writing a history of Christianity, which has somehow branched out into a history of Europe lately. I keep coming across such good material that I can't resist writing about it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

Tom Whitworth— You are welcome. The most famous use of the "recorder" was in 'Stairway to Heaven'. Thank you for visiting and for your kind compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

carolina muscle— Thank you! Thank you very much. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

t.elia— Thank you so much for the laudations. It make a man feel good. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

eovery— I'll keep on as long as I am able, my friend. Thank you for visiting me. :)

CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on September 29, 2010:

Your article is an impressive overview of a period when uncertainty and warfare was the theme of life. I am lucky enough to live in the UK and enjoy what is left of the 16th to 19th century building projects. My son and I often ramble around huge houses, half decayed, in search of what life was really like.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

drbj— Thank you for being my first visitor!! I would love the History Chair at Fokk U. Count me in. I suppose 350 years from now—if there is a 350 years from now—people will look back at our lives and say "Oooh! I wouldn't want to live back then." Unless, of course, a New Dark Ages comes, which it might. In that case I think people will look at the 1950s in America as the best time of all human history.

hybridway on September 29, 2010:

Great hub as usual. I am always impressed by your illustration and pictorial identities that you brought to bear on your blogs.

I love to learn the art and technique of your writing, especially how you pick and impute the pictures etc on your hub.


More to learn ....

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on September 29, 2010:

WOW, kind of put's the 21st Century Christians in the wussy category. Todays Christian's biggest worry deals IF they should integrate the music, performance, video graphics, and theatrical lighting, so they can engage multiple senses and intensify the worshipers’ experience....REEALLY?

Sorry, just kind of drifted there....

Thanks James, AGAIN!!, I have yet to spend a lunch break, that I did not come away better informed or entertained by your excellent writings.

David Guion from North Carolina on September 29, 2010:

You have condensed an awful lot of material into a single essay. Specialists could quibble with some mistakes in detail and some over-generalization, but you have provided a wonderful overview. It might not have been very pleasant to live back then--I like sanitary conditions and laws against violence--but it certainly did shape a lot of life as we know it today. Thank you.

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on September 29, 2010:

Your vivid account of 17th Century European life is most fascinating and absorbing.

RevLady from Lantana, Florida on September 29, 2010:

Well, my comments are embedded in those of others. Suffice it to say, reading this hub in earnest was like being in class. It provided interesting insight into the minds of those living during this period and explains why changes in terminologies became necessary.

The photo supports are awesome!!

Thank you for the education professor James.

Love, peace and joy in Him!

Forever His,

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on September 29, 2010:

Great hub James. I like the Jesters. " All rulers have to take advice from somebody." Cool way to get advice. God Bless You. Fantastic, educational experience always from your work. Great art and photographs too.

Rod Marsden from Wollongong, NSW, Australia on September 29, 2010:

A very good summary.

In England in the 17th Century I would add actors to the list of vagabonds because that is what they were considered to be. Times of course have changed.

De Greek from UK on September 29, 2010:

A truly fascinating abreviated account of history of that period. VERY well done James :-)

reddog1027 on September 29, 2010:

Thanks for 17th century Europe in a nutshell. I relearned what I probably knew after high school world history.

Brian Stephens from Laroque des Alberes, France on September 29, 2010:

Ditto everyone else, great piece of research and writing. You must have started working on a book by now.

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