Originally a blog to honour Leeuwenhoek (see below), I will now continue in a more general format, with the goal of sharing items on and around the Dutch Golden Age and how it continues to reverberate in the 21 century. The focus will be on the arts, culture and science. It will no longer be Leeuwenhoek-centric, (although he remains one of my personal heroes), but rather, it will generally share how that Golden era continues to influence society today. It will probably retain the bias I have for Delft, which is to be expected.
The Golden Age is generally defined as the period between 1568 when the Netherlands, led by William I of Orange, revolted against the rule of Spain’s King Philip II; and 1795 when it fell to the French Republic. This blog will, however, go back still further, into that period known as the Northern Renaissance beginning sometime in the late 14th century.
The current title, From the Lowlands Low, takes a common term used in British folk music for the Low Countries, or the ‘nether lands’. Wikipedia defines the Low Countries as,
The Low Countries (Dutch: de Lage Landen, French: les Pays-Bas) is a coastal region in western Europe, consisting especially of the Netherlands and Belgium, and the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, and Ems rivers where much of the land is at or below sea level. This wide area of Northern Europe roughly stretches from French Gravelines and Dunkirk at its southwestern point, to the area of Dutch Delfzijl and German Eastern Frisia at its northeastern point, and to Luxembourg and French Thionville in the southeast.
From the Lowlands Low will cover those coastal areas which are now mostly contained by Belgium (the Flemish, mostly Catholic) and The Netherlands (the Dutch, mostly Protestant).
This blog began under the name “Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Centraal”, and the original motivation for this was as follows:
As an amateur microscopist I have long known of the contribution that Antoni van Leeuwenhoek made to the science of microbiology. During my last summer holiday my family and I were able to visit Delft, the city of my father. I was hoping to find a museum to commemorate Leeuwenhoek and his amazing contribution to early science. I was soon to be disappointed – except for a few faded panels and his grave markers there is little in Delft to show what an amazing force he was in the early scientific world.
I want to use this blog to highlight the influence of Leeuwenhoek and the other scientists of the Netherlands in the 17 th century – Holland’s Golden Age. While Dutch artists and philosophers are still well known and discussed, the names of many of the early scientists are fading away. These early pioneers can still influence our thoughts, inform our reason and delight us with their tenacity. It was people such as these who straddled the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, where scholasticism and faith began to give way to experimental science and reason. This blog hopes to commemorate this era and it will serve as an on-line museum and a central dispersion point for information on the Dutch Golden Age of Science.
Topical and civil comments, suggestions, and corrections are always welcome.