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Catholic Enlightenment

(1,174 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Term The concept of Catholic Enlightenment developed in German historiography from the early 20th century, and has since the 1970s established itself as a specialist term [3. 40–53]; [5. 76–85]. In its general and internationally current sense, it denotes all the efforts undertaken within European Catholicism before around 1820 to adapt the ideas and accomplishments of the Enlightenment and to implement them in culture, education, scholarship, economics, and political organization [1]; [6]. In the specific sense widely used in German scholarship, it refers above …
Date: 2019-10-14

Wegestreit

(947 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionThe term Wegestreit subsumes several quite different scholarly debates that took place between the early 14th and late 15th centuries in European universities, especially those of the Holy Roman Empire, regarding correct methods of academic teaching and learning, especially in the area of logic and metaphysics. The (modern) term  Wegestreit (English “battle of the ways”) arises from the fact that, before 1500, a scholastic method was usually called a  via (way). It was named after the head of the school who exemplified it (e.g.  via Thomae/“method of Thomas…
Date: 2023-11-14

Thesaurus

(1,161 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptA thesaurus (Greek/Latin “treasury”), often used synonymously with  bibliotheca or museum, was from the 16th century onwards the name or title of a work in a literary genre that claimed to compile all knowledge in a particular field, organizing it systematically and ideally also illustrating it (Knowledge, organization of; Knowledge, visualization of). The models and prototypes of the thesaurus arose in the practices of antiquarianism. They answered the Humanist (Humanism) demand to collect all…
Date: 2022-11-07

Table culture

(2,662 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. OverviewIn all cultures, eating together has been of central importance. It establishes community and is an indispensable element of festivals, diplomacy, and peace celebrations, a ritual of solidarity, fraternization, and friendship, an opportunity for extravagance (Representation) and ostentatious or conspicuous consumption. Beginning in the 15th century under the banner of the Renaissance, the style and perception of such meals changed among the elites of Europe. As a manifestation of the n…
Date: 2022-11-07

Wit

(2,002 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe term wit (OE  gewit, “understanding,” “consciousness,” “sense”; Latin  ingenium, Italian  ingegno, Spanis  ingenio, German  Witz, French  esprit) in the early modern period denoted the art of connecting seemingly disparate thoughts and ideas in a surprising way and formulating them with ingenious pithiness such as to astound and spontaneously persuade the listener or reader [1. 874]; [10. 7 f.]. Wit was thus regarded as a basic condition of intellectual productivity and a key element of cultivated conversation and pragmatic prudence. …
Date: 2023-11-14

Anglophilia

(968 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Terminology The term  Anglophilia first appeared around 1750. It and the stronger form  Anglomania refer - from a critical distance - to the “(unsophisticated) fondness for England, the English, and all things English” [7. 18] that appeared among the continental elite after 1713 and became a general vogue in the 1730s. Admiration for English politics, economics, philosophy, science, culture, and lifestyle led to wholesale imitation, triggering one of the most momentous transfers of culture in European history.Anglophilia was a concomitant of the Enlightenment an…
Date: 2019-10-14

Epigraphy

(1,093 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and functionThe term “epigraphy” (from the Greek epigraphḗ; “inscription”) first occurred in German in the 18th century, and in French not until 1838. Yet the recording, collecting, and classifying of ancient inscriptions on stone and metal is among the oldest, most widespread, and most highly regarded forms of early modern antiquarianism and archaeology. The reasons vary. When Friedrich August Wolf declared in 1807 that epigraphy “is not important in terms of beauty of form, but by virtue of …
Date: 2019-10-14

Latin studies

(1,084 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. SurveyIn the early modern period, Latin was a language in active use in diplomacy, science, and the educational system (Bildung) and was therefore a living language. This circumstance favoured the scholarly study of the language only to a certain extent. Before the 19th century, it was studied less for its own sake than for practical purposes: to be able to write and speak better, to be familiar with the (still obligatory) canon of classical literature, to understand Roman law, which was still in effect, and to share in the greatness of ancient Rome (Antiquity, reception of).Lati…
Date: 2019-10-14

Counter-Enlightenment

(1,547 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and problemThe term Counter-Enlightenment is first attested, as a synonym for Romanticism, in an 1877 note by Friedrich Nietzsche (“Der Höhe der Aufklärung entspricht die Höhe der Gegenaufklärung in Schopenhauer und Wagner”; “The peak of enlightenment corresponds to the peak of the Counter-Enlightenment in Schopenhauer and Wagner”) [16. 26]. Isaiah Berlin then introduced it to the international discourse as the Counter-Enlightenment from the 1950s, to denote - not without a philosophical value judgment - opponents of the Enlight…
Date: 2019-10-14

Philology

(2,252 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe term “philology” (Greek  philología, “love of words/thoughts,” coined by Plato) had already become synonymous with erudition per se by the 1st century BCE, where that erudition was in the field of language and literature. A philologist (Greek  philólogos) was a specialist in grammar ( grammatikós) and linguistic and literary criticism ( kritikós), capable of assessing the linguistic correctness of texts and improving them as necessary. Philology was thus also synonymous with textual criticism and the disciplines of the  artes liberales (especially gramma…
Date: 2020-10-06

Club

(1,317 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and phenomenonThe club developed from the 16th century as a specifically  British form of urban sociability. The eccentric term - at the time, the word only had its original sense of “thick stick” - hints at the exclusive, masculine character of these societies, in which gentleman kept their own company and women were almost entirely excluded. The club differed from traditional forms of socializing (e.g. fraternity, guild, sect, academy) in being an “expression of a dynamic, visibly urba…
Date: 2019-10-14

Pedagogy

(3,556 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. TerminologyPedagogy, not identical with education as formation (Bildung), is the art of transmitting and inculcating the norms that apply within a society. It differs from education as schooling in its claim to have a theoretically grounded, systematic procedure guided by an explicit purpose. The term  paidagogía, first attested in Plato’s  Republic, denoted the “guidance [and instruction] of boys” in the interests of a specific political and moral public goal, that is, the activity of the pedagogue ( paidagogós) – in contrast to the earlier  paideía, education in general.…
Date: 2020-10-06

Riding

(2,782 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. SurveyIn all societies where the horse was an exclusive means of transportation, an indispensable requirement for personal mobility, a valuable weapon in hunting and in war, and a costly prestige object, the ability to ride well was one of the basic skills required of the nobility (Standesbiludung). Because riding went hand in hand with high social status, its rules – like everything about horses – were guarded as grand arcana and were never reduced to writing [20. 91]. Not until the beginning of the early modern period did riding become a topic of public discu…
Date: 2021-08-02

Criticism

(2,598 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and terminological historyCriticism (or, in earlier English usage, “critique”) as the art of “testing a given matter for authenticity, truth, correctness, or beauty, and forming a judgement based on the findings obtained” (“einen vorgegebenen Sachverhalt auf seine Echtheit oder Wahrheit, seine Richtigkeit oder Schönheit hin zu befragen, um aus der gewonnenen Erkenntnis heraus ein Urteil zu fällen”) [11. 86], developed through the early modern period into the European elite's preferred form of intellectual discourse. From the Enlightenment, i…
Date: 2019-10-14

Archaeology

(1,716 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept In Antiquity, the Greek term first encountered as archaiología (‘antiquarian lore’) in the Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1st century BCE – archaiologeín, ‘to discuss antiquities,’ is already found in Thucydides, 5th century BCE) denoted the sphere of history of which there were no longer living witnesses to give accounts, but that depended entirely on traditions and legends. The Renaissance Latinized the term to archaeologia or  archaeographia, and used it synonymously with antiquitates, i.e. antiquarianism, from which archaeology was indist…
Date: 2019-10-14

Conversation

(1,132 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe term conversation (from Latin conversari, “to have dealings with”, “to have intercourse with”; literally “to be engaged [in something] together”), adopted into most of the European languages in the 16th century, denotes a ritual that was typical of early modern European scholars: an informal discussion in a small group, the most important purpose of which was to explore the subject in question as thoroughly, elegantly, and entertainingly as possible. Unlike in institutionalized forms of …
Date: 2019-10-14

History

(4,883 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. OverviewThe urge to know as much as possible about the past of one’s race, clan, class, place of birth, homeland, people - and that of other groups, populations, and cultures too - and to certify and curate this knowledge in the hands of scholarly experts, was common to all learned cultures of the early modern era (Historiography; Historical traditions beyond Europe). This can be seen in the fact that tradition was fundamentally significant in all these cultures as the basis for claims to owne…
Date: 2019-10-14

Mythology

(2,027 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and phenomenonIn Greco-Roman antiquity, the Greek term  múthos adopted into all European languages (German  Mythos, French  mythe) denoted a semantic field ranging from “word” and “factual statement” to “invented narrative.” Beginning with Plato, its meaning became confined to “story of the gods and heroes” [13. 181]. Accordingly, “mythology” throughout the early modern period was almost invariably taken to mean the study of the worlds of the Greek and Roman gods (Ancient religions), as it was portrayed by poets like Homer and …
Date: 2020-04-06

Civilization

(1,497 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept The term “civilization”, which appeared in French and in English shortly after 1750 and by 1820 was established in all Western European languages (French civilisation, German Zivilisation, Italian civilizzazione, Spanish civilisación), marks an ideal of the Enlightenment: a polity which has implemented, as much as possible, enlightened values - ranging from political freedom and a modern political economy (Economy, political) to humanity, education and urbanity -  und goes on perfectioning them. In this respect civi…
Date: 2019-10-14

Humanism

(10,285 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Introduction Humanism was the most important and influential European educational and cultural movement of the early modern period before the Enlightenment (Bildung). It arose in Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries, and by the mid-16th century it had spread across the entire western world. Its aim was an aesthetic one: the restoration of the literature, arts, and sciences of classical antiquity, especially Roman culture from the period between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, which …
Date: 2019-10-14

Curiosity

(1,429 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Problem and conceptThe desire to expand one's knowledge was by no means regarded as a virtue in principle in the early modern period. Rather, there was intensive and passionate debate throughout, from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, on how far curiosity (from Latin  curiositas; Italian  curiosità; Spanish  curiosidad; French  curiosité, but German Neugier, literally “craving for the new”) might legitimately go, and at which limits it must cease. This debate, which was conducted in media ranging from sermons and disputations, to disser…
Date: 2019-10-14

Individuality

(1,883 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. General observations 1.1 DefinitionUntil the end of the 18th century, “individual” and “individuality” (from Lat. individuum; “indivisible”) was a technical term in philosophy that could denote “smallest unit” or “special character.” Consequently, it could also refer - as it does to this day in many European languages - to a single thing or person. In Germany during Idealism and Romanticism it acquired an emphatic tone; individuality became a synonym for the unmistakable uniqueness of a concrete personality,…
Date: 2019-10-14

Textual criticism

(2,068 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Definition As a subdiscipline of philology or classical studies and of biblical criticism and exegesis, textual criticism is the sum of all methods and techniques used to try to recover surviving texts in a form as close as possible to their original form. In doing so, it works hand in hand with hermeneutics. It is based on the historical recognition of Humanism that in the course of their transmission, texts are deliberately or involuntarily changed. Textual criticism seeks to rever…
Date: 2022-11-07

Humanities

(2,002 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and definition The concept and the term came into existence in late-19th century Germany, an outgrowth of the conviction developed within historicism that human will, thought, and activity could not be measured by the inductive methods of natural science and traced back to general rules, but must instead be studied as manifestations of each unique individuality in the specific shape they took. Hence, the Humanities were taken to comprise all academic disciplines (Disciplines, a…
Date: 2019-10-14

Dictionary

(1,606 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptA dictionary (Latin  dictionarium; Italian  dizionario, vocabulario; French dictionnaireglossaire, Spanish  diccionario, German Wörterbuch) is a usually alphabetical register presenting the vocabulary of a language in whole or in part, either to comment on each word as such or to present its equivalent(s) in one or more other language(s). Dictionaries in the early modern period were by no means confined to pragmatic purposes of language tuition or mutual understanding in contexts of travel, pilg…
Date: 2019-10-14

Fate, destiny

(1,425 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Meaning and conceptThe idea of fate or destiny (French  fortune, destin, destinée; Italian  fato, destino; Spanis  fortuna, suerte, destino; German Schicksal) became in the early modern period a preferred mode for discussing the relationship between autonomy and necessity, that is, the question of freedom of will, and the driving forces of history and politics, in a secular context. As a synonym for whatever was peculiar, unalterable, and perhaps inexplicable in the course of the history of an individual, a peopl…
Date: 2019-10-14

Mazarinades

(667 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe term  Mazarinade, used by scholars since 1850, derives from  La Mazarinade, the title of a 1651 Paul Scarron literary parody of the  Iliad (French  Iliade). It serves as an umbrella term for over 4,000 mostly highly polemical pamphlets, published in France at the time of the Fronde (1648-1653) in opposition to attempts by the crown to centralize the government and administration in the spirit of absolutism. Because these efforts were embodied by Ca…
Date: 2019-10-14

Hero, heroine

(1,761 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. OverviewIn most cultures, heroes (Greek  hḗros, Latin  heros, Italian  eroe, French  héros, German Held) – mythical figures between the divine and human worlds – have great significance for the self-conceptions of the groups, classes (Estates of the realm), and nations (Nation, nationalism) that venerate them. By embodying the value system of these groups and representing it as victorious in the heroes’ adventures, they make it visible and attractive. By pushing the value system to its limit, thus revealin…
Date: 2019-10-14

Numismatics

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and meaningNumismatics (from the Latin numisma, “coin”) has since the 18th century denoted the scholarly discipline concerned with the analysis of coins. A distinction was drawn between a “commercial numismatics” that sought to establish the metal content and m…
Date: 2020-04-06

Seal

(1,556 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionA seal (from Latin  sigillum, diminutive of  signum, “sign”; Italian  sigillo, Spanish  sello, French  cachet or  sceau, German Siegel) is a mirror image intaglio on a stamp (often itself called a seal) made of metal, stone, wood, or horn (typar or signet), which is pressed on a soft material that hardens rapidly (usually wax, but after c. 1560 more commonly lacquer) or a paper wafer. It serves to witness to legal acts of rulers, governments, corporations, institutions, and individuals as well as to a…
Date: 2021-08-02

Ambition

(974 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Terminology Even in its original Latin form,  ambitio was a morally ambivalent concept. Since the time of Cicero, it meant not just the “circulation” of candidates for office to make themselves known to their voters but also a particularly insistent, ruthless pursuit of offices and dignities. After Augustine this attitude stood in almost irreconcilable conflict with the Christian commandment of humility and diffidence. Theologians of all persuasions disapproved of striving after “empty honor” (Luther). For Philipp Melanchthon, eergeizlich—the German word, which came into use c. 1500, associated ambitio with such deadly sins as Geiz (Latin  avaritia, “avarice”) and Hochmut (Latin  superbia, “pride”)—was the opposite of trewlich und freuntlich (“faithful and friendly”).Gerrit Walther 2. Aristocratic virtue Among the European nobility, honor was considered a central mark of distinction. Therefore efforts to increase one’s own prestige were hardly considered offensive, even if pursued with great energy. Indeed a young nobleman was virtually expected to distinguish himself through spectacular feats of arms or other achievements in service to his prince, thus seeking to gain honorable command posts and lucrative office. “Hardly had I come into the world,” writes Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy, describing this goal in his Mémoires (1667, printed 1696), “wh…
Date: 2019-10-14

Humanity

(866 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Humanist rootsThe term humanitas (Humankind, human being, “humaneness,” “sphere of human affairs”) adopted from Cicero in the 15th century achieved currency in European languages in the heyday of Humanism and remains to this day (English humanity; French  humanité; Italian  umanità; Spanish  humanidad) - especially in the context of literary-rhetorical education (Bildung) as originally delineated by the Humanist term  studia humanitatis (“studies of human affairs”). From the 16th century on, preliminary education was called  humanités in French; in English, hu…
Date: 2019-10-14

Dogs, keeping of

(2,036 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Types and functions The dog was widespread in all social classes in the early modern period, and undertook a range of functions. It was according to these, and not the breed (a concept that only achieved currency as a system of classification after 1850) that dog types were distinguished.Hounds used for hunting were of particular interest to contemporaries, following on from ancient authors, such as Xenophon ( Kynegetikós, c. 400 BCE; “On Hunting [With Dogs]”), M. Terentius Varro ( Rerum rusticarum libri tres, c. 50 BCE; “Three Books on Agriculture”), and Oppian ( Kynegetiká, c. 200…
Date: 2019-10-14

Gemmology

(1,064 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept Ancient engraved gems (from the Latin gemma, “precious stone”) are small reliefs inscribed into semiprecious stones (generally chalcedony, carnelian, agate, onyx, or hematite), rock crystal, or glass, depicting portraits, mythological figures and scenes, and often inscriptions or magical symbols (Character). Because they often show the legendary creature known from gnosticism, the so-called Abraxas (or Abrasax), wit…
Date: 2019-10-14

Educational policy

(2,295 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionThe term '’educational policy'’, which did not come into common use until the 1960s, denotes the sphere of cultural policy that involves the educational system: the efforts of the government (Sovereign power) and elite leadership to promote their goals by establishing and favoring institutions of Bildung and instruction and to combat the corresponding institutions of the opposition. In this sense, educational policy was an important area of early modern politics, an essential element…
Date: 2019-10-14

Greatness

(1,523 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. The term In antiquity the attribute of greatness associated with gods, heroes, and kings had already been extended to leading members of the elite in city states and republics and elevated to the status of a universal virtue possessed by rulers. In the early modern period, greatness (Lat.   magnificentia, Ger. Größe, Ital. grandezza, Span. grandeza, French  grandeur) became the guiding ideal of the European aristocracy, the goal of noble ambition, and a central topic of discussion among the nobility. There proved to be a productive tension between the claim that “the great” (Ital. i grandi; French  les grands) possessed greatness from birth and the consensus that “true” greatness should be ascribed only to those who had demonstrated it in…
Date: 2019-10-14

Prudence

(1,084 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and problemPrudence (Greek  phrónesis, Latin  prudentia, Italian  prudenza, Spanish  prudencia, French  prudence, German  Klugheit) appears in Aristotle’s  Nicomachean Ethics as the gift of correct practical action. It includes asking advice ( eubulía), understanding ( synesis), and judgment ( gnṓme). Considered a cardinal virtue ever since the Latin church father Ambrose (4th century), by the time of Thomas Aquinas (13th century) at the late…
Date: 2021-03-15

Libertine

(1,684 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe Latin legal term  libertinus (“freedman”), which in the Acts of the Apostles (6,9) attaches to the persecutors of St. Stephen, passed into French ( libertine) around 1480 via vernacular biblical commentaries, and from there it entered the other modern European languages, including English. From 1545, Calvinist and Catholic preachers were using it to discredit morally those who did not unconditionally accept their dogmas. The word “libertinage” or “libertinism” (French libertinage, also libertinisme) e…
Date: 2019-10-14

German New Humanism

(1,372 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. The phenomenonThe German term  Neuhumanismus (“Neohumanism, New Humanism”), coined by Friedrich Paulsen in 1885 [11. 191–195], denotes an educational movement (Bildung) that originated in the 1770s in Germany in reaction against utilitarian concepts of education rooted in the Enlightenment. In contrast to education in Germany’s western and eastern neighbors, it celebrated the ancient Hellenic world as the epitome of true, good, and beautiful humanity (Antiquity, reception of). In the first half of the 19t…
Date: 2019-10-14

Tacitism

(1,407 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Definition and beginningsThe term  Tacitism, coined in 1921, denotes a specific style of politico-ideological skepticism between approximately 1570 and 1650 that was sparked by the works of the Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus (c. 100 CE). Its guiding principle and keynote was  similitudo temporum (similarity of historical periods). In the intrigues and power struggles of the Roman imperial court, which Tacitus depicted as signs of increasing political and moral decadence, contemporaries of the wars of religion (Religion, …
Date: 2022-11-07

Decadence

(1,413 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe idea that empires and cultures, having risen to power and greatness, must necessarily undergo decline, commonplace among ancient historians after Polybius, was revisited and reformulated by the Humanists. Until around 1800, “decadence” (also “decline”; Latin   inclinatio, ruina, depravatio; Italian  decadenza, declino, caduta; French  déclin, décadence; German  Verfall, Dekadenz) was therefore a basic category of political, social, and aesthetic discourse. As a constitutive element of a cyclical view of history, the concept den…
Date: 2019-10-14

Moralist literature

(1,308 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionAt its first appearance in 1690 in Antoine Furetière’s Dictionnaire universel, the term  moraliste (“moralist”) simply meant an author who treated moral questions. By around 1700, however, the pejorative secondary meaning “rigorist” had been coined, referring specifically to adherents of Jansenism. Volume 10 of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D’Alembert once more denigrated the moralist, defining him in 1765 as a vain, unsystematic littérateur aiming more to amaze than to enlighten [9. 48–52]. The term  moralist literature (German Moralistik), by contra…
Date: 2020-04-06

Morality, history of

(1,148 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Definition and modelsIn the late 18th and 19th centuries, “history of morality” was the phrase used to denote the genre of cultural history that paid special attention to the mores and everyday world of a bygone epoch, culture, nation (Nation, nationalism), or society (Society [community]). The German equivalent, Sittengeschichte, used by Kant in contrast to Naturgeschichte (Natural history), remained limited to German [3]. Ever since Humanism, however, the concept of a historical presentation that seeks to draw conclusions about the civilized …
Date: 2020-04-06

Scandal

(1,230 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionThe term scandal – from Greek  skándalon, “(trigger of a) snare” (Latin  scandalum, especially biblical, “cause of offence,” “stumbling block”) – appeared in French in the 17th century as a (pejorative) synonym for “public sensation”; like the verb scandalize (create a sensation), it was then borrowed by the other European languages (German at the beginning of the 18th century [4]. It denotes both a sensational public event and the sensation itself, that is, discussion of it.  Scandal can thus be defined as the sum of reactions to a flagrant offense against the canon of a society’s current political, social, aesthetic, or sexual norms – an offense on the part of those who might be expected to uphold these norms and traditions. What was sensational and outrageous about a scandal was the discrepancy between role expectations and r…
Date: 2021-08-02

Sprezzatura

(880 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe early modern term sprezzatura (from the Italian sprezzare, “to neglect,” and Late Latin  expretiare, “devalue”) covered a spectrum of meaning ranging from laxity and nonchalance by way of elegance to understatement and dissimulation, and thus denoted the most important ideal of conduct in Renaissance and Baroque court society. Unlike the words from which it derived, sprezzatura was always positive in connotation [5]; [9]. Sprezzatura was coined as “a new word” ( una nova parola), if not literally invented, around 1520, by Baldassare Castiglione in C…
Date: 2022-08-17

Spinozism

(1,342 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionIn many European languages in the 17th and 18th centuries, the word  Spinozism, first documented in 1699 but clearly older, was a vague collective term for all positions associated with the teachings of the Netherlandish Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677). The thinkers who affirmed these teachings or were accused of doing so were called Spinozists. Both terms were exonyms and were almost always used polemically, since contemporaries were unanimous in their belief that Spinoza’s phi…
Date: 2022-08-17

Honnête homme, honnête femme

(1,229 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionThe term  honnête homme, first attested in 1538, is defined in the  Dictionarium latinogallicum of Robert Estienne as a “cultured courtly gentleman without presumption.” Since the early 17th century, it expressed the quintessence of courtly urbanity, the social model of the new court society of the age of Louis XIV. Unlike related French words such as 
Date: 2019-10-14

Dame

(1,564 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept The term, which came into English in the Middle Ages from the French dame (compare Italian dama/ donna, German Dame), derives from the Latin  domina (“mistress”). Dame in English is generally confined to an honorific title; where derivatives of domina in other languages denote a woman of high social rank or status, English uses “lady” (Old English hlafdige = “[woman] who kneads bread”) as Spanish uses señora. As a courtly title, “Dame” was mostly used in conjunction with the possessive “my” or  ma ( Madame, Madonna, Madam, My Lady/Milady). Domina derivatives denote th…
Date: 2019-10-14

Manners

(1,434 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. A social idealManners were understood from the late 15th century as the sum of all behaviors that expressed politeness or courtesy (German Höflichkeit; Italian  cortesia, gentilezza; Spanish  cortesía; French  politesse, civilité, towards ladies also  courtoisie and  galanterie; Dame) in practice. These were therefore more than merely forms of conduct corresponding to applicable social rules. Such prescribed conduct differed in the early modern period according to gender, estate, profession, confession, and social, ethnic, and…
Date: 2019-10-14

Temperament

(1,186 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ModelThe model of the four temperaments (from the Latin temperamentum, “proper measure”) remained in the early modern period, as it had been throughout classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, the norm for describing the character of individuals. The classification of four basic types (sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic), completed in ancient times by Aristotle and Galen, provided the categories whose specific combinations explained the individual subject. Although – in the words of the Baron …
Date: 2022-11-07
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