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Blackboard by Lisa Jardine.

Professor Lisa Jardine

Historian and broadcaster

‘I created this blackboard in the course of a seminar paper entitled ‘Following the Trail of an Unanswered Letter: Sir Constantijn Huygens Writes to Robert Hooke’, which I delivered on 24 February 2005 to my weekly Director’s Seminar at the AHRB Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. The paper centred on the draft of a letter sent by Sir Constantijn Huygens to Robert Hooke in 1673, which I found in the Royal Archives at The Hague in 2002. When writing my biography of Robert Hooke I had considered this letter as part of an England-centred exploration of early science and the history of the Royal Society. Now I proposed to step back and set the letter in its wider European context. In order to understand the importance of the letter, and the consequences of its having gone unanswered, I argued that we needed to treat it as part of a complex set of intellectual, social and political relationships which spanned the English Channel. These took in London, The Hague and Paris, and were significantly influenced by events usually invisible to History of Science, like the Anglo-Dutch wars and the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’.’
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