Friday, November 26, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"They [the native people] fyght not for the enlarging of theyr dominion, forasmuche as they haue no Magistrates: nor yet for the increase of riches, because thei are contente with their owne commodities: but onely to reuenge the death of theyr predicessours.... As for Golde, Pearles, precious stones, iewelles, and suche other thinges, which we in Europe esteme as pleasures and delicates,
they sette noughte by."

The fyrste viage of Americus Vesputius (May 1497)
from A treatyse of the newe India, with other new founde landes and ilandes, aswelle eastwarde as westwarde, translated out of Latin into Englishe by Rycharde Eden, 1553-55

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"L'envie et la haine fascinent les yeux, et font qu'ils ne voyent jamais les choses telles qu'elles sont."

"Envy and hatred charm the eyes, and make it so that they never see things the way they are."

Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), Queen of Navarre
Mémoires et lettres (1628)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lost and Found

I have to share this story about the four year old British boy who wielded a metal detector to find a gold Tudor-era reliquary pendant buried in a field in Essex. The pendant is worth close to $6 million dollars and could possibly wind up in the British Museum. The boy will have to split the proceeds with the owner of the field, but still, what a prize for an afternoon's outing! Maybe I should get my own son one of those contraptions for Christmas and take him over to France...

It's fascinating to imagine who the pendant's owner might have been and how it wound up in that field. Suppose she lost it one day and someone told her that in five hundred years a young child would unearth it. Would she have believed him? In any case, the pendant is a beautiful artifact and a welcome addition to some museum's early modern collection.

EDITED TO ADD: BBC video of the boy, the field, and the find!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"La vieillesse nous attache plus de rides en l'esprit qu'au visage."

"Old age attaches more wrinkles to our spirits than our faces."

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592),
French writer and humanist
Essais, III, 2

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"This is what the printing presses do: they corrupt susceptible hearts. The silly asses do not see this, and brutes rejoice in the fraudulent title of teachers, exalting themselves with a song like this (be so good as to listen): 'O good citizen, rejoice: your city is well stuffed with books. For a small sum, men turn themselves into doctors in three years. Let thanks be rendered to the printers!' Any uncultured person without Latin bawls these things."

Filippo de Strata (c. 1473), Italian Benedictine
Polemic against Printing

translated by Shelagh Grier, 1986
Quoted in The Book in the Renaissance by Andrew Pettegree (2010)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Henry VIII's "Lost" Palace

Interesting article on a rare painting of Henry VIII's "lost" palace, Nonsuch, built to rival François's great châteaux and standing only 150 years before falling into disrepair. Henry began the palace in 1538 to celebrate the birth of his son and to prove that he could equal François's architectural prowess. The name he chose for it implies that no other palace could equal its magnificence. Unfortunately, Henry's grand palace was dismantled in the late seventeenth century by Charles II's mistress Barbara Villiers to pay off her gambling debts.

Joris Hoefnagel's painting is one of only four extant depictions of Nonsuch and one of the earliest surviving watercolors executed in England.

The article includes a large reproduction of the painting, amazing in its detail.