Four prestigious associative bodies flourished in Great Britain during the period of the Enlightenment: the Royal Society (founded in 1660), the Society of Antiquaries (1707), the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (1754), and the Royal Academy of Arts (1768). Each was established to fulfill a particular need, each had its own theoretical or actual prototype, and each would beget imitative institutions.
In the mid-seventeenth century, during the troubled years of the Interregnum, university teachers, doctors of medicine, and scientifically minded noblemen and gentlemen had met informally in London and Oxford to follow the Baconian method of experimental investigation into astronomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and mechanics. In 1659, this group began to hold regular Wednesday meetings at Gresham College in London, where one of their number, Christopher Wren, was the Professor of Astronomy. After the king's restoration in the following year, they formed themselves into a forty-member society “for promoting Physsico-Mathematical Experimental Learning.” Charles II's interest having been secured, a royal charter was obtained in 1662, and the Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural knowledge, with its members now designated fellows, came into being. Its proceedings began to be printed in 1665 as The Philosophical Transactions, which provided a model for the publications of later institutions.
By the end of the seventeenth century, the Royal Society had achieved fame both at home and abroad. The presidency of Sir Isaac Newton (1703–1727) saw the Society established in Crane Court, Fleet Street, where it maintained its own museum of natural history. The president and nominees of the Society's council were appointed as visitors and directors of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich by Queen Anne in 1710. Royal favor continued under the physician and collector Sir Hans Sloane, president from 1727 to 1741, though a decline in the quality of the Society's work and membership was said to have begun at this time, not to be noticeably arrested until the long presidency (1778–1820) of Sir Joseph Banks. Exceptions to this stagnation were the physiological experiments of Stephen Hales (1677–1761) and those in electricity by Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790).
Under Banks, who had already established his reputation through participation in Captain James Cook's first voyage of discovery and through the staff of expert botanists he maintained at his own expense, the Society was frequently consulted by King George III and his government on scientific matters. Though a British patriot and imperialist, Banks, as president of the Society, saw himself as a part of the international community of learning and maintained friendly correspondence with American scientists during the War of Independence and with French scientists during the Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Specialist scientific societies, which were to be a great feature of the nineteenth century, began to form during Banks's presidency: the Linnean Society in 1788, the Geological Society in 1807, and the Royal Astronomical Society in 1820.
In the English provinces and in Ireland and Scotland there existed imitators of the Royal Society. The Northampton Philosophical Society was called “the Royal Society in miniature” (Allan, 1979, p. 32), and similar bodies were set up in Manchester (1781); Derby (1783), and Newcastle (1793). The Dublin Philosophical Society (1683) was the first of a series of Irish learned societies that took the Royal Society as their model. A Royal Irish Academy was established in 1784 and received a charter of incorporation the following year. In Scotland, the Edinburgh Philosophical Society (1737) was looked on as an ancestor by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1783). Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1744, and an American Academy of Arts and Sciences was established in Boston in 1780.
Discovery and Recording of History and Antiquities
The tradition of an Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries and of various seventeenth-century projects for the establishment of institutions under such names as the Royal or British Academy or the College of Antiquaries influenced the great librarian Humphrey Wanley to found a new society at a meeting held in a tavern in London's Strand in December 1707. During its first decade, the Society of Antiquaries remained a rather informal discussion group devoted to the history and antiquities of Great Britain before the reign of James I. In 1717, regular subscriptions were instituted and a permanent meeting place, the Mitre, a tavern in Fleet Street, was selected. In 1751, a royal charter was obtained under which George II assumed the titles of founder and patron and, on the pattern of the Royal Society, the members became fellows, using the designations FAS or FSA.When the Royal Society was granted accommodation in the rebuilt Somerset House in 1780, it was considered natural that it should have as its neighbor the second senior learned society. This close link between those who studied human history and those who studied natural history is clear in their shared membership. Joseph Banks, a fellow and council member of the Society of Antiquaries, had been preceded as president of the Royal Society by three leading Antiquaries, notably Martin Folkes, who was president of the Royal Society from 1741 to 1753 and president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1750 to 1754. Though Newton had looked unfavorably on “virtuoso collectors and antiquaries” (Gascoyne, 1994, p. 212), the Philosophical Transactions continued to publish accounts of archaeological finds, and in 1729 a merger of the two societies was proposed.
The Antiquaries began publication with Vestituta monumenta in 1747 and have maintained it with Archaeologica since 1770. The Dilettanti Society (1732) encouraged field research on Greek and Roman antiquities and sponsored publications. The Society for the Encouragement of Learning (1736) and the Society for the Encouragement of a Complete English History (1747) were independent publishing ventures inspired by the growing popularity of historical writing.
The earliest “cell” of the Society of Antiquaries was the Spalding Gentleman's Society (c. 1710). This was followed by the Stamford Society (1721) and about the same time by the Wisbeech, Lincoln, and Worcester societies. There were also antiquarian clubs among members of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, and in 1780, direct imitations of the London society were set up in Edinburgh and Dublin. The Society of Antiquaries of Newscastle upon Tyne was founded in 1813.
Encouragement of Useful Arts
One of the most active fellows of the Antiquarian and Royal societies in the mid-eighteenth century was Henry Baker (1698–1774), microscopist, son-in-law of Daniel Defoe, and correspondent with men of learning throughout the British Isles and overseas. Baker was largely responsible for the successful foundation by William Shipley, a Northampton drawing master, of a third important society. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce was established in 1754, incorporated by charter in 1847, and designated royal in 1908. Shipley, on Baker's advice, took as his model the Dublin Society for Promoting Husbandry and Other Useful Arts (founded 1731, royal charter 1749), which since 1740 had been offering monetary premiums in furtherance of its objectives.
Premiums or bounties were the often interchangeable terms for rewards paid to inventors or to the producers of nationally valuable economic products. Such awards were offered under acts of Parliament by the Linen Board in Ireland (1710), the Board of Longitude in England (1713), and the Board of Trustees for Manufactures in Scotland (1727). A Chamber of Arts that would have given rewards paid out of the voluntary subscriptions of its members was proposed in 1722, but it came to nothing because of the commercial insecurity following the economic collapse of the South Sea Bubble. In the early 1750s, two peers of the realm, Jacob Viscount Folkestone, and Robert Baron Romney, formed a scheme to reward inventions which was known to the physiologist and clergyman Stephen Hales. Henry Baker put William Shipley in touch with Hales, and Hales in turn introduced Shipley to Folkestone and Romney. A foundation meeting took place in a Covent Garden coffeehouse on 22 March 1754.
The new society grew from a membership of eleven to more than two thousand by 1765. Its premiums covered a range of fields in the categories of agriculture, fine and applied art, chemistry, commercial and colonial development, manufactures, and mechanics. It maintained a Repository, or museum, of inventions in its premises at Denmark Court, the Strand and later in its present Adelphi home, an architectural tour de force by Robert Adam. Many members of the government and the nobility joined this society, and it shared a large common membership with the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. Benjamin Franklin, a fellow of both of the latter, and Joseph Banks were active in its affairs. A Register of Premiums was published in 1778, and the annual Transactions from 1783 on. The society gave rise to similar institutions in Edinburgh (1755), New York, Hamburg, Saint Petersburg (all 1765), and Barbados (1781), as well as in Welsh and English counties.
Patronage and Professionalism in the Fine Arts
The fine or “polite” arts (as they were called then) formed only one part of the work of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Professional artists such as William Hogarth, Alan Ramsay, and Joshua Reynolds were a minority among its membership. Yet it was this society that sponsored the first exhibition of the works of modern British artists (1760), leading to the formation in that year of the Society of Artists, out of which grew the Free Society (1762), the Incorporated Society (1765), and the Royal Academy of Arts (1768).The words academy and society were often used interchangeably at this time. Tobias Smollett thought that the Society for the Encouragement of Arts could be compared favorably with “all the boasted academies of Christendom” (Rousseau, 1973, p. 474). Academy at this time could also mean a school conducted as a private enterprise. William Shipley conducted a drawing school at the same time as he administered the Society for the Encouragement of Arts; this school was sometimes called an academy and has been confused with the much older St. Martin's Lane Academy, where established artists could practice and pupils learn to draw from life.
The Royal Academy of Arts was also called the Society for Promoting the Arts of Design. Yet the prestige it acquired through King George III's patronage and the distinction of Sir Joshua Reynolds, president from 1768 to 1792, evoked in the minds of Englishmen the great academies of Italy and France which they had so often hoped might be emulated in their native land. The title of royal academician with the designatory letters R.A. was aspired to by artists as the seal of professional merit. Proficiency in the Academy's schools and admission to its annual exhibitions were important steps in an artist's career. The academicians were also aware of their institution's standing in the learned world. Samuel Johnson was its honorary professor of ancient literature, and there was also an honorary antiquary and a professor of ancient history. Reynolds's discourses were highly polished expositions of the current theory of art, and James Barry's lectures as professor of painting (1784–1799) were full of erudite references, though in this respect few could equal the lectures on architecture delivered by Sir John Soane between 1809 and 1820.
In 1780, the Academy secured magnificent accommodation in the new Somerset House, together with the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. Royal patronage continued under George IV, who on his accession to the throne in 1820 presented a gold medal and chain to be worn by the president, Sir Thomas Lawrence, and future holders of the office. Other later bodies such as the British Institution (1805), the Society of Painters in Watercolours (1805), and the Society of British Artists (1823) never achieved the standing of the Academy, as it was generally called. A Royal Scottish Academy of Arts was founded in Edinburgh in 1826, and a Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts in Dublin in 1828, though both Scottish and Irish artists still aspired to membership in the London body.
Allan, D. G. C. William Shipley. Founder of the Royal Society of Arts: A Biography with Documents. 2d ed. London, 1980.Find this resource:
Allan, D. G. C., and J. L. Abbott. The Virtuoso Tribe of Arts and Sciences: Studies in the Eighteenth Century Work and Membership of the London Society of Arts. Athens, Ga., 1992.Find this resource:
Berry, H. F. A History of the Royal Dublin Society. London, 1915.Find this resource:
Campbell, Neil, and R. M. S. Smellie. The Royal Society of Edinburgh (1783–1983): The First Two Hundred Years. London, 1918.Find this resource:
Evans, Joan. A History of the Society of Antiquaries of London. London, 1956. This standard work has been supplemented by occasional pieces in the Antiquaries Journal, notably by Pugh (1982).Find this resource:
Gascoigne, John. Joseph Banks and the English Enlightenment: Useful Knowledge and Polite Culture. Cambridge, 1994.Find this resource:
Hudson, Derek, and K. W. Luckhurst. The Royal Society of Arts. 1754–1954. London 1954. Supplemented by Allan (1980, 1982) and Royal Society of Arts. A Chronological History. London, 1999.Find this resource:
Hoppen, K. Theodore. The Royal Society and Ireland. Notes and Records of the Royal Society 20 (1965), 78–99.Find this resource:
Hutchinson, S. C. The History of the Royal Academy 1768–1986. 2d ed. London, 1986.Find this resource:
Myers Robin, and Michael Harris, eds. Antiquaries, Book Collections and the Circles of Learning. London, 1996.Find this resource:
Pevsner, Nicholas. Academics of Art, Past and Present. 2d ed. 1973. The classic exposition of the subject.Find this resource:
Pugh, R. B. Our first chapter. Antiquaries Journal 62 (1982), 347–355.Find this resource:
Rousseau, G. S. No boasted Academy of Christendom': Smollet and the Society of Arts (i-iii). Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 121 (1973), 468–475, 532–535, 623–628.Find this resource:
Stimson, Dorothy. Scientists and Amateurs: A History of the Royal Society. London, 1949.Find this resource:
Watkin, David. Sir John Soane: Enlightenment Thought and the Royal Academy Lectures. Cambridge, 1996.Find this resource:
In addition to the Académie Française, two royal academies and a number of provincial academies played major roles in the intellectual life of eighteenth-century France.
Académie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres
When Abbé Jean-Paul Bignon and Chancellor Louis Phélyreaux Pontchartrain turned their reforming attentions in 1701 to what was called Louis XIV's little academy, they effectively created a new institution. From a small group chosen from the Académie Française, and given the task of glorifying the reign of the monarch, arose a carefully structured academy, devoted to the study of the ancient world through its literature, coinage, and epigraphy. The forty members were divided into four classes: ten honoraires (nobles and members of the regular clergy), ten pensionnaires (scholars receiving annual emoluments), ten associés, and ten élèves (absorbed into the associés class in 1716). This structure changed little throughout the eighteenth century, the most significant reform being in 1786, when a modified statute increased the number of pensionnaires and formalized a new objective: the classification of the royal library's holdings of classical, oriental, and medieval manuscripts.The first half of the century was dominated by two men: Claude Gros de Boze and Nicolas Fréret, the first as administrator, the second as scholar. Boze, the permanent secretary from 1706 to 1742, skillfully walked the tightrope of shaping the identity of the academy and maintaining its independence, while ensuring that his colleagues’ work, in both quantity and quality, satisfied the demands of the government minister responsible for the academies. The enigmatic Fréret eventually succeeded Boze as permanent secretary, but his own contribution to the academy's activities was above all else the breadth and depth of his intellectual contribution—one that ranged over sinology, chronology, early French history, and critical historiography. The principal members of the academy during the second half of the century include: J.-B. de La Curne de Sainte-Palaye (medieval history), J.-B. Bourguignon d'Anville (geography and cartography), A. H. Anquetil-Duperron (the founder of French Hindu studies), J.-J. Barthélemy (numismatics and ancient history), Louis de Guignes and Sylvestre de Sacy (Oriental studies), Comte de Caylus (art history), and J.-B.-G. d'Ansse de Villoisin (Homeric studies). Few Frenchmen of any standing in the world of erudition were not welcomed by the academy.
If institutionalism favored productivity—the academy entailed statutory obligations to present papers and offered the encouragement of peer pressure—it also had its drawbacks, above all, the tendency of academicians to look inward. Thus, the aftermath of the theoretical Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns hindered the development of work on classical literature; events such as the excavations of the ancient Roman site of Herculaneum and the pioneering work of German, Italian, and English scholars took the French a considerable time to appreciate. The preponderance of classical scholarship slowed the development of the study of medieval history. The tendency was to deal overmuch with minutiae. The one considerable advance made toward the end of the eighteenth century was the successful implementation of a protocol for work on manuscripts, codified in a statute of 1786.
The relationship of the academy to the Enlightenment is not a simple matter. On the one hand, the academy welcomed individuals of unorthodox ideas and beliefs. Thus, Louis Racine and J.-P.-R. de La Bletterie were accommodated, although their Jansenist leanings (a reformist doctrine of moral predestination put forth by the Dutch Roman Catholic theologian Cornelis Jansen [1585–1638]) excluded them from the Académie Française. Louis Boindin was a notorious atheist; the Lévesque brothers were at best critical deists, and Fréret, whatever the extent of his authorship of heterodox clandestine tracts, had Jansenist connections and was possessed of a critical spirit. Moreover, on at least one occasion, the academy successfully resisted pressure to appoint a candidate, J. N. Moreau, who was considered a government agent in the anti-philosophe campaign. Yet both Voltaire and Jean d'Alembert disapproved of the hierarchical structure and close governmental control that distinguished it from its older sister-academy of sciences (see below), where all members—aristocrats, high clergy, and working men of letters—were treated equally and did not automatically receive pensions. Voltaire, while plundering the academy's papers (published in its Histoire et Mémoires) had running battles on matters of erudition with P.-N. Bonamy, E. L. de Foncemagne, and P.-H. Larcher (all of whom had right on their side). In addition to the stigma attached to being a government institution, the academy suffered from the intellectual handicap of working in an area inimical to the philosophe viewpoint. Jean LeRond d'Alembert's article Erudition in the Encyclopédie (1751–1775) argued that pure scholarship could combat its archaic reputation when a rigorous critical approach was applied to its fields of study, but he gave no indication that the academy had achieved this goal. In 1789, when the French Revolution began, the academy had few friends. The membership's dissociation from contemporary reality, sufficient reason for philosophe disapproval, was emphasized by the spectacle of its members (described by their own secretary as living “more with books than men”), attending a regular meeting in their usual numbers on the very day that the Revolutionary Convention decreed the academy's suppression.
Académie Royale des Sciences
In 1666, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), a financier and statesman, founded the Académie des Sciences. The règlement of 1699 that formalized its structure resembled in all essentials that of the Académie des Inscriptions. The principal difference was one of size: The scientists were far more numerous, with all but the honoraires class numbering twenty members. The pensionnaires were the permanent secretary, treasurer, and three representatives of each of the sciences of geometry, astronomy, mechanics, anatomy, chemistry, and botany; the associés consisted of twelve Frenchmen (two for each science) and eight foreigners; an élève was attached to each pensionnaire. A reform in 1716 modified the structure to twelve honoraires, twelve associés, twelve associés libres and twelve adjoints. This establishment remained unchanged until 1785, when Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier masterminded a reform that reflected the increased importance of the applied sciences, adding two new classes of experimental physics and mineralogy.Lavoisier avoided increasing overall membership in order to maintain the quality of an institution that was, by then, the most prestigious scientific body of its time. The principal individual in the early part of the century was René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683–1757), who initially specialized in metallurgy and mineralogy, then embarked on the study of insects, excelling in all; he is today considered the father both of French steel production and of the science of entomology. Similar titles have been attributed to academicians Comte Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon for geology, Lavoisier for chemistry, Jean-Baptiste de Monet de Lamarck for the classification of living things and credited with the elaboration of a prototype of the theory of evolution. Other distinguished members were Jean LeRond d'Alembert and J.-L. de Lagrange (mathematics), N.-L. de La Caille and J.-B.-J. Delambre (astronomy), J.-B.-L. de Romé de l'Isle and R.-J. Haüy (crystallography), and F. Vicq d'Azyr (anatomy and epidemiology).
Voltaire was in the minority when he bracketed the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Inscriptions in faintly praising both as institutions whose principal merit was the gradual elimination of error. In fact, the Académie des Sciences provoked an interest that the other never commanded: the practical sciences (with electrical experiments, chemical demonstrations, and the curious collectables from both geology and the natural sciences) seized the public's imagination in a way that ancient manuscripts and coins never did. Science might also be put to the service of both the state and the Enlightenment.
D'Alembert largely succeeded in peopling the Académie Française with supporters of the Enlightenment, then turned his attention to the Académie des Sciences; he succeeded in having Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat Condorcet appointed permanent secretary. Condorcet used the secretary's duty to provide eulogies of dead colleagues to emphasize publicly the usefulness to humanity of science and scientists. Moreover, his Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain (written in 1793 and 1794), the Enlightenment's philosophical and moral testament, began life as an academy exercise.
Even more important in the life (and death) of the Académie des Sciences was its symbiotic relationship with the government. Throughout the 1700s, from Réaumur's investigations during the Regency into the precious minerals of France, to Lavoisier's overhauling of the system of gunpowder provision in the 1770s, to Condorcet's plan for national scientific education during the French Revolution, the Académie des Sciences was consistently the servant of the state. It was the only body accorded the power of officially recognizing individual scientific and technological projects and inventions or of granting patents. Ultimately, these monopolistic duties, as well as Lavoisier's refusal to increase the size of the membership, became too heavy a workload and the academy thus forfeited public esteem. It had acquired a reputation for elitism, by jealously guarding its prerogatives, to the extent that it prevented similar societies from developing. It also aroused the enmity of such potentially dangerous individuals as Jean-Paul Marat, who neither forgot nor forgave its failure to approve his own scientific work. Consequently, it shared the fate of the other academies in 1793.
Of the thirty-two provincial towns boasting academies (as analyzed by the historian Daniel Roche ) only seven were already endowed before the end of the seventeenth century (those of Angers, Arles, Avignon, Nîmes, Soissons, Toulouse, and Villefranche en Beaujolais); four others attained similar status before 1716 (Bordeaux, Caen, Lyon, and Montpellier); another four after 1760 (Agen, Grenoble, Orléans, and Valence). The great era of the founding of the provincial academy was the half century following the death of Louis XIV, when seventeen academies were started (Amiens, Arras, Auxerre, Besançon, Béziers, Brest, Châlons, Cherbourg, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Marseille, Metz, Montauban, Nancy, Pau, La Rochelle, and Rouen). The seventeenth-century foundings came from emulation of the Académie Française, but gradually the pattern of the two younger Parisian academies was successful, with one fundamental variation: from the early 1700s, the majority of provincial academies favored a multidisciplinary approach. The academies of Montauban, under the influence of Lefranc de Pompignan, Soissons, and Toulouse (the Académie des Jeux Floraux) were devoted to literature, but they were the exceptions. Montpellier was the exception on the other side, with exclusive concentration on the sciences (and directly linked by special relationship with the Parisian Académie des Sciences). The general academies, however, combined literature, science, and the arts (this last referred largely to technical arts or even handicrafts but did not exclude fine arts) or any two of those fields. The guiding principle behind such decisions was the fundamental Enlightenment goal of usefulness: the acquisition of scientific and technical information for the good of the community, particularly the local community. Public speeches by members repeatedly emphasized the importance of communicating knowledge (lumières) to fellow citizens.The scope of disciplines studied by the provincial academies can be seen in both the papers given by members and the subjects proposed for prize competitions. At a single sitting of the academy of Béziers in 1786, there was a discourse on arts and crafts and a eulogy of a recently deceased fellow member (whose specialty was military matters), as well as papers on the mechanism of watches, on the practice of bienfaisance (a byword of the Enlightenment), and on childbirth. As for competitions, when Dijon famously set in 1754 the moral topic of the “usefulness of the arts and sciences,” it also proposed subjects of eloquence (eulogies of famous local personages) and of agricultural matters of regional concern (wool, peat, and the diseases of cereals). With certain variations, the pattern was repeated across France (specifically with such scientific subjects as medicine, botany, astronomy, and geology).
The principle of enlightenment, in the wide sense of the communication of knowledge, was actually realized by provincial academies in the realm of the sciences. To a large extent, the provincial academies filled the void created by the failure of Europe's university system to provide a scientific education. Many of the provincial academies, in particular Bordeaux, Dijon, and Montpellier, possessed laboratories and presented demonstrations of experimental science. A notable example of a purveyor of this service was Jean-Antoine Nollet, who gave public demonstrations under the auspices of the academy of Bordeaux, which had begun as early as 1714 a program of physical and chemical experimentation. The Dijon academy set in motion a program that resulted in a renowned center for the study of anatomy and chemistry. Montpellier's academy took over the teaching of mathematics after the expulsion of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) in 1762.
Being far less closely attached, both financially and administratively, to the central government than their Parisian counterparts was, however, no protection from the French Revolution: the 1793 decree included the dissolution of the provincial academies.
Amoureux, Henri, and others. Histoire des cinq académies. Paris, 1995. Useful, relatively brief, analyses of the history and importance in the eighteenth century of the Académie des Inscriptions and Académie des Sciences. The section on the Académie Française is of no interest; nothing on provincial academies.Find this resource:
Roche, Daniel. Les républicains des lettres: Gens de culture et Lumières au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1988. A substantial section on the academies, both Parisian and provincial, largely in the second half of the eighteenth century.Find this resource:
Barret-Kriegel, Blandine. Les académies de l'histoire. Paris, 1988. A reasonably full account of the way that academy functioned.Find this resource:
Gossman, Lionel. Medievalism and the Ideologies of the Enlightenment: The Life and Work of La Curne de Sainte-Palaye. Baltimore, 1968. A detailed account of the life of the eighteenth-century scholar, with relevant reference to that academy.Find this resource:
Schwartz, J. M. Antiquity Not Mysterious: The Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1701–1749. Ph.D. diss., Brandeis University, 1965. The only work in English to give an account of the principal areas of activity of that academy.Find this resource:
Waller, Richard. The Académie des Inscriptions in 1705: A Year in the Life of a Learned Institution. In Enlightenment Essays in Honour of Robert Shackleton, edited by Giles Barber and C. P. Courtney, pp. 299–318. Oxford, 1988. A detailed account of the workings of that academy.Find this resource:
Gillispie, Charles Coulston. Science and Polity in France at the End of the Old Regime. Princeton, N.J., 1980. Puts that academy in the wider context of the official place of science within the French state in the second half of the eighteenth century.Find this resource:
Hahn, Roger. The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution: The Paris Academy of Sciences, 1666–1803. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1971. The pioneering, largely sociological, work on the subject. An updated edition is the French translation, L'anatomie d'une institution scientifique: L'Académie des Sciences de Paris, Brussels, Paris, and Yverdon, Switzerland, 1993.Find this resource:
Hankins, Thomas L. Science and the Enlightenment. Cambridge, London, and New York, 1985. Tangentially related to that academy, but since almost all the scientists concerned were members, an extremely useful overview.Find this resource:
Sturdy, David J. Science and Social Status: The Members of the Académie des Sciences, 1666–1750. Woodbridge, U.K., 1995. A detailed account of the lives, work, and social background of the academicians.Find this resource:
Roche, Daniel. Le siècle des lumières en province: Académies et académiciens provinciaux, 1680–1789. 2 vols. The Hague and Paris, 1978. The to-date definitive work on the subject; a remarkable synthesis that resists generalization.Find this resource:
The history of academies in Germany, and more specifically that of scientific institutions, began relatively later than in the rest of Europe, with the reorganization in 1700 of Berlin's barely functioning Sozietät der Wissenschaften (Society of Sciences). In the 1740s, under the “enlightened absolutist” Prussian king Frederick II, the Society became the Académie Royale des Sciencis et Belles Lettres (1746). If we consider more broadly the intent to institutionalize science cooperatively, however, the history of German scholarly societies goes back to the Sodalitäten (“confraternities”) formed among southern German humanists toward the end of the fifteenth century. These movements, which embraced universal concepts of science typical of the seventeenth century under the leadership of Johann Valentin Andreaes, Jan Amos Comenius, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, had more than regional importance. The discrepancy between their plans to institutionalize science and their actual accomplishments illustrates how political and social circumstances in a territorially and religiously fragmented Germany shaped the German academies of the eighteenth century.
The Seventeenth Century
The late humanist project of the academy was characterized by a striving for harmony in the seventeenth century, a period plagued by war and other crises. Comenius was an important figure in peaceful attempts to reunify Germany's fragmented religious landscape, along with Leibniz and Daniel Ernst Jablonski (Comenius's grandson, court chaplain in Berlin and cofounder of the Berlin Academy).Andreaes's Christianopolis (1619)—a draft for an ideal academy built concentrically and divided into the areas of Nutrition, Education, and Contemplation—aimed to revive early Christian society. Its center was an interdisciplinary academy designed as an educational establishment, surrounded by lecture halls forming a first circle, and their “armories”—laboratories, anatomical institutes, musical instrument and natural collections—forming a second circle. In Comenius's concept of the utopian academy Via Lucis (written in 1641/2 and published in 1668), the network of existing societies of scholars would revolve around a central academy, which would document newly acquired knowledge, create a universal language, and administer international schools. This new holistic approach, called Pansophy, would transform society at all levels.
Leibniz shared with his predecessors the idea of a central academy acting as a world trade and information center to lead humankind to wealth and peace. Social utopian thought and the need to standardize scholarly communication went hand in hand. At the end of the 1660s, Leibniz outlined a plan for a scholarly newspaper that would systematically record all emerging knowledge; in an early manuscript, he envisioned a Societas Philadelphica that would assemble scholars under the authority of the emperor, the pope and the French king to oversee the world's trade. Leibniz pursued these plans his whole life. He had a part in establishing the Berlin Sozietät der Wissenschaften (1700) and became its first president; in the early eighteenth century, he launched academy projects with the elector of Saxony in Dresden, the emperor in Vienna, and the Russian tsar. A combination of mercantile state interest and the development of a scientific culture displaced religious-philosophical goals. The academies were intended to modernize local calendars, administer measures of length and weight, assess regional geology and vegetation, research terrestrial magnetism, pursue comparative linguistic studies, and organize the international correspondence of scholars. Leibniz had protested that earlier scholarly societies had cared only about language and curieux instead of useful subjects.
In the nineteenth century, German scholars made Leibniz the original hero of the German, and indeed the European, academy movement, producing images of themselves as continuing the work of an authoritative creator-figure unifying a national dream, an idealized comprehensive worldview, and constitutional monarchy. Yet casting Leibniz as the sole founder fails to do justice to the complex motivations behind the foundation of academies, and in particular, to their institutional reality. Leibniz's plans, like those of his predecessors, were neither entirely original nor a simple continuation of earlier ideas. Instead, they arose out of the well-articulated exchanges among scholars throughout Europe that initiated the formulation of utopias as a response to social and educational problems; these ideas gradually solidified within existing governmental and scientific institutions.
Academies were an integral element in early modern society. In seventeenth-century Germany, their history was much influenced by language societies dedicated to poetry and the improvement of the German language, such as the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft (Fruitbearing Society, 1617), the Deutschgesinnte Genossenschaft (German-Minded Society, 1642), and the Pegnesische Blumenorden (Pegnitz Flower-Order, 1644). Meetings of those societies were sporadic, and their exchanges took place mostly in written form. At the same time, the first scientifically oriented societies began to appear, such as the mathematical Societas Ereunetica (1622) and the Academia Naturae Curiosorum (1651). The Leopoldina Society proved longer-lasting than scholarly unions that relied on the personal commitment of their founders because of the privileges granted to it by Emperor Leopold I, and also because of its effectiveness outside scholarly circles. Starting in 1670, the Leopoldina published Miscellanea Curiosa, the first scientific, medically focused periodical in Germany.
The Eighteenth Century
In the eighteenth century, the language societies became the Deutsche Gesellschaften (German Societies). Thus, the Görlitzer Collegium Poeticum (Görlitz Poetic Colleagues, 1697) became the Leipziger Deutsche Gesellschaft in 1724, with later imitators in Jena (1730), Göttingen (1738), Greifwald (1740), Königsberg (1741), Helmstedt (1742), Erlangen (1756), and Bremen (1762). These differed from earlier language societies in that they were educational and academic institutions, usually associated with a university; they held weekly assemblies, and their members were mostly students. Besides language studies, moral education was part of their curriculum, and a multitude of moral weeklies emerged from them.In midcentury, there was a boom in the foundation of comprehensive learned academies. The reorganization of the Berliner Akademie was followed by the Königliche Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (Royal Society of Sciences of Göttingen, 1751), the Kurmainzische Akademie Nützlicher Wissenschaften (Electorate of Mainz Academy of Useful Sciences, 1754) in Erfurt, the Kurbayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Electorate of Bavaria Academy of Sciences, Munich, 1754), the Kurpfälzische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Electorate of the Palatine Academy of Sciences, Mannheim, 1763), and the Königlich Bömische Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences, Prague, 1785). The reorganization of a number of other academies was projected.
The term Akademie (“academy”) denoted not “universal scholarly society,” but primarily a higher, specialized school. It was the common term for “university” and inspired designations such as “knight academies,” “trade academies,” or “mining academies.” Also applied to public concerts, it acquired the broader sense of “cultural event.”
In the 1760s, Patriotische Gesellschaften (“patriotic societies”) followed the academies. By 1800, four to five thousand members were active in approximately sixty such societies; many members were civil servants, priests, or physicians who worked on specific social or economic questions, published journals, and held prize competitions. From the mid-eighteenth century, reading societies began to appear, with an estimated fifteen to twenty thousand members in six hundred societies by the end of the century. Academies of fine art flourished, too: six were founded between 1650 and 1750 in major cities like Berlin (1697), and in some noble residences, primarily to teach drawing. In rapid succession, German electors opened art schools in Mannheim (1752), Bayreuth (1756), Mainz (1757), Stuttgart (1762), and other capitals. These art academies organized the first art exhibitions in German cities.
The Academies and German Society
As the development of early modern society demonstrates, the universal academies were a vital element in the public institutionalization of learning and the intensification of cultural complexity, a process that permeated state and society from the mid-eighteenth century. The European model, in particular the Parisian, began to spread subtly in the emerging academies and through the existing scholarly network. Contributing factors included the promotion of a national standard language by the German societies, and the already large production of scientific journals, moral weeklies, news sheets, and literary reviews.On this basis, courtly and scholarly interest in representation and mercantile statism could be connected to officially sponsored learned academies. In Berlin, Frederick II appointed leading European scholars like the mathematician Euler as well as Berlin scholars, and he made Maupertuis, a member of the French Académie des Sciences and Académie Française, president of the Berlin Academy. The chair of the University of Göttingen, Germany's leading Enlightenment school, created a scholarly society that was given editorial control over the influential review, the Göttingischer Gelehrten Anzeigen (Göttingen Scholarly Articles). In Erfurt, Munich, and Mannheim, the efforts of local scholarly circles and their leading figures resulted in the establishment of local academies by their respective sovereigns. Protection from Jesuit influence was another motive, particularly for Catholic territorial sovereigns, such as the founder of the Bavarian Academy in Munich.
German academies were typically divided into physical-mathematical and historical-philological sections. Their membership consisted of three categories: a small number of full members, mostly local, who held weekly closed sessions and published volumes of proceedings of their meetings; adjunct members, often members of other academies or notable scholars; and high-ranking honorary members. Local conditions determined the range of subjects taught.
It is also important to consider the institutional frameworks of the academies. Two primary models existed: the “royal court” academies, such as those as in Mannheim and Berlin, curated the royal collections and fulfilled obligations to the state in the fields of geodesy, metrology, and meteorology; and the “university-academies,” derived from the Göttingen Foundation, promoted research and education, for example by publishing scholarly papers in collaboration with universities. The latter model became more widely established in the nineteenth century; it had greater potential as an educational institution, particularly since it could draw from a staff of specialized university professors as needed. The academy became the “crown” of Humboldt's German university-centered model of science.
An academy's leading committees, in particular the president and corresponding secretary, handled most administrative tasks. Leading officers were often, but not always, paid. Despite their high reputation resulting from recognition by sovereigns, their famous honorary and adjunct members, and their privilege to give prizes, German academies in the eighteenth century could be rather humble enterprises. The Academy of Göttingen, for instance, had only one regular member per class, along with a paid staff of five, and in Munich, an average of only eight members per class attended the meetings. The Mannheim Academy was restricted to ten regular members in addition to the leadership: ecclesiastical councilmen, court doctors and historians, the librarian, the archivist, an astronomy professor from Heidelberg, and the director of the specimen collection formed its founding circle. In both the humanities and the natural sciences universal academies in Germany—with the exception of Munich and Mannheim, which dealt primarily with national history—were created in spite of a limited pool of local scholars, not least because status-hungry princes were eager to emulate the Parisian model, even though their finances imposed institutional constraint. The academies served mostly to administer knowledge, not to develop the national language. The academy of Berlin published in French, Göttingen's and Erfurt's in Latin, and Mannheim's was multilingual; only the academies of Munich and Prague published in German. This situation stirred Gottsched, Klopstock, and Herder, among others, to propose a central German academy.
The academies sought to promote scientific progress with prize competitions. These competitions did not always produce results because their scientific questions were often formulated too broadly to be answered in the designated time. Nevertheless, the academies promoted considerable scientific progress through institutionalization. They employed distinguished experts with whom discoveries and observations could be shared, but above all, they established and enhanced scholarly reputations. Membership in respected academies was a measure of a scholar's social status and capital. The academies generated a quasi-official hierarchical order in the scholarly world.
From the late seventeenth century well into the eighteenth, eclecticism was the predominant German mode of acquiring knowledge: existing and emerging knowledge was to be researched, documented, and verified cooperatively. An abundance of German scholars propagated this model, and their early journals were organs of the Eclectic movement that had been foreshadowed in seventeenth-century utopias of knowledge. It was also important that German academies arose as state-endowed centers of the Eclectic movement in the mid-eighteenth century and gained importance in that context.
Brather, Hans-Stephan, ed. Leibniz und seine Akademie. Berlin, 1993.Find this resource:
Clark, William. The Scientific Revolution in the German Nations. In The Scientific Revolution in National Context, edited by Roy Porter and Mikulàs Teich, pp. 90–114. Cambridge, 1992.Find this resource:
Garber, Klaus, and Heinz Wismann, eds. Europäische Sozietätsbewegung und demokratische Tradition: Die europäischen Akademien der Frühen Neuzeit zwischen Frürenaissance und Spätaufklärung. Vol. 2. Tübingen, 1996.Find this resource:
Grau, Conrad. Die Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Heidelberg, 1993.Find this resource:
Hammermayer, Ludwig. Akademiebewegung und Wissenschaftsorganisation während der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts: Formen-Tendenzen–Wandel. Berlin, 1977.Find this resource:
Hardtwig, Wolfgang. Genossenschaft, Sekte, Verein in Deutschland, vol. 1, Vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Französischen Revolution. Munich, 1997.Find this resource:
Hartman, Fritz, and Rudolf Vierhaus, eds. Der Akademiegedanke im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Bremen, 1977.Find this resource:
Kanthak, Gerhard. Der Akademiegedanke zwischen utopischem Entwurf und barocker Projektmacherei: Zur Geistesgeschichte der Akademiebewegung des 17. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1987.Find this resource:
Pevsner, Nikolaus. Academies of Art, Past and Present. Cambridge, 1940.Find this resource:
Unlike much of the rest of Europe, Russia had no history of learned societies before the eighteenth century. The only institutions that approximated an academy were the theological academies in Kiev (Ukraine) and Moscow that had been founded in the seventeenth century. Both were modeled after Jesuit academies, although Eastern Orthodox, both were open to the laity, and the Kievan Academy in particular produced many learned thinkers well into the mid-eighteenth century. Neither, however, functioned as a scientific academy nor laid claim to presiding over letters and secular knowledge. In the eighteenth century, the Russian Empire housed only two learned academies—the Academy of Sciences, founded in 1724 by Peter the Great, and the Russian Academy, founded in the 1770s by Catherine the Great.
The idea for a Russian academy seems to have originated during Peter the Great's travels through western and central Europe from 1697 to 1698, known as his “Great Embassy”; it was then revived during a second journey in 1717. Impressed by what he witnessed at the learned academies of Europe, Peter mused about the possibility of replicating them in Russia. Simultaneously, the German philosopher Gottfried von Leibniz initiated a correspondence with Peter, directed at assessing the needs of Russian education and science. This correspondence continued irregularly for more than two decades, during which Leibniz pressed on Peter a program for building—in order of priority—state schools, universities, and academies. Leibniz envisaged a massive infrastructure of knowledge commensurate with Russia's emergence as an important European state, and he presented Peter with plans for libraries, bookstores, botanical gardens, and museums.
Peter embraced the spirit of greatness that underlay Leibniz's recommendations, if not his precise program, and decided to construct a scientific academy in the heart of his new capital, Saint Petersburg. In 1724, Peter published a decree formalizing the opening of the Academy of Sciences and Arts, replete with a university, a gymnasium, laboratories, a publishing house, a library, and a public hall of curiosities (kunstkamera). Knowledge, according to Peter's matrix, was divided into mathematics, physics, and the humanities, and each of these was further subdivided into fields, such as anatomy, theoretical physics, astronomy, and history. To staff the academy, Peter hired a large number of foreign scholars and educators, mostly German and Dutch; they were paid handsomely, and he promised them an up-to-date research environment. In fact, the most striking characteristic of the new academy was its imported nature. All the scientists were from Europe, and the initial group of 112 students in the academic university were largely foreign residents of Peter's new capital city.
The initial cadre constituted a respectable roster of European men of science: Daniel and Nicolaus Bernoulli in mathematics, Joseph Delisle in astronomy, Gottlieb Bayer and Gerhard Friedrich Müller in history, Leonhard Euler in mathematics and economics, and several other active scholars. Until the early 1740s, they were given relative freedom in pursuit of their research and were permitted to publish their results in Latin in whatever venue they chose. Yet they were far less effective in connecting with Russian society, and therein lay the cultural contradiction upon which the academy soon foundered—the discourse of national greatness versus the hegemony of non-Russian scholarship. Only a handful of Russians enrolled in the academy's courses, and after a few years, the academy was attracting few students of any sort (fewer than twenty were enrolled by the mid-1730s). Leibniz had warned Peter of this possibility and suggested that a learned academy be postponed until a more broad-based educational infrastructure had been established, one that could connect European science with its host. Peter, however, had been impatient; the imperial project, of which the academy was a symbolic part, was simply too urgent for him.
The language of scholarship, then, was Latin, and the new Academy Press almost immediately, in 1728, inaugurated a monograph series (Commentarii Academiae scientiarum imperialis petropolitanae) in that language for other European scientists. Because Latin was so little known in Russia, however, it reached almost no audience at home.
In fact, some of the imported scientists did endeavor to communicate in Russian, by giving occasional public lectures and even by publishing abstracts in Russian. Several also began teaching in Russian, although many years passed before this become the norm. All this was to no avail, and within a wave of anti-German feeling during the reign of the empress Elizabeth (r. 1741–1762), many of the foreign-trained scholars departed. They were replaced by Russians who adopted a more nativist approach to the institution. The new order was formalized by the first charter to the academy, issued in 1747; it significantly restricted the autonomy of scholars by subsuming them under the Academic Chancellery, composed mostly of nonscientists, including Grigorii Teplov and Andrei Nartov, who insisted that the academy become more practical, more concerned with arts and crafts, and more Russian.
The Academic Press
The demand for a more Russian academy within Russian-educated (and not-so-educated) society demonstrated the unavoidable politicization of that institution as a public entity. In fact, the academy quickly emerged as a primary organizer of secular—or at least lay—public life in its capacity as a publishing house. In 1707, Peter the Great had introduced a new Russian orthography (Cyrillic), the so-called civil script (Rus., grazhdanskii shrift), which was to become the orthography of civil affairs, while inscribing on the older script a specifically religious, or Orthodox, identity (Rus. kirillitsa) that it had not previously had. Because the state maintained a near monopoly in printing, it was able to impose this dualism on Russian-language publishing in general. Although other civil presses were brought into existence, the Academy Press (founded in 1728) rapidly became the largest and, by far, the most important medium of secular information in the empire. It accounted for more than half of all titles published between 1730 and 1755.By the late 1760s, several other institutional presses had begun to flourish; by the 1780s, the Academy Press had become merely one of several important publishing houses. The academy, however, had pioneered in the publication of Russian-language journals, poetry, history, drama, literary compendia, secular textbooks, and, above all, the translation into Russian of hundreds of important works of literature and commentary, both ancient and modern. Because it was the essential organ of secular Russian in its infancy, the Academy Press may be said to have invented literature as a published medium in the Russian language.
Kunstkamera, Exploration, and Empire
Throughout the eighteenth century, the kunstkamera functioned as much more than a museum of natural and cultural curiosities (although it functioned as that as well, offering public admission as early as the 1760s). From its beginning, the academy was expected to organize the leading explorations of Russia's vast and widely uncharted empire—lands of the Central Asia and east to Siberia and even Alaska. Peter the Great had initiated this exploration endeavor by commissioning Vitas Bering and his Great Northern Expedition to the Kamchatka Peninsula and the northern Pacific, in an attempt to map Russia's Pacific coastline—and to determine whether a land bridge existed between Siberia and North America. In 1731, a young botanist at the academy, Johann Georg Gmelin, was sent to his displeasure to join Bering in Irkutsk in eastern Siberia. Gmelin spent many years there and produced the first descriptive account of Siberian plant life, Flora sibirica (4 vols., 1747–1769), along with his personal account Travels through Siberia, 1733–1743 (1752). Ultimately, it was left to the academy to organize subsequent explorations, which began with Stepan Krasheninnikov's journeys in the 1730s. This resulted in the publication of The Description of the Land of Kamchatka, which circulated widely when translated into several European languages.Over the next several decades, such other academicians as Peter Pallas, I. I. Lepekhin, and V. F. Zuev traveled across Siberia; they collected specimens and assembled copious field notes, all which quickly found their way into print, typically in German and French as well as Russian, and often in multiple editions. Russia was still a curiosity to much of the reading public in Western Europe, and Siberia was an almost unimaginable expanse of frozen terrain and exotic natives; printed descriptions of this wonderland allowed imaginations to flourish. Since these descriptions claimed to be “scientific,” they confirmed the convictions of Enlightenment readers that even the most obscure reaches were knowable, subject to classification, and hence open to research.
For Russian audiences, exploration and mastery took on a decidedly political cast. Siberia was within their empire, and mapping it was an inherent part of conquest. Siberians were Russia's primitives, whose mere existence highlighted Russia's European identity. As an advanced civilization, Russia dominated these peoples who, in the conceit of the day, stood somehow closer to nature. Sending back field reports, specimens, and artifacts surely had a scientific purpose, but the public display of many of them in the academy's kunstkamera emphasized Russia's conquest and ultimate possession of these lands. The kunstkamera, then, became the capital's imperial showcase par excellence.
Russian History as a Profession
Central to the academy's mission was the organization of Russian history, a role that had until then been filled largely by religious chronicles and a handful of historical codices (Rus., sborniki). Initially the responsibility for constructing a lay history fell to Gerhard Friedrich Müller, who worked in various capacities at the academy for more than fifty years. Müller, along with his colleagues August Schloezer and Gottlieb Bayer, adhered to the chronicles’ accounts that the first Russian state of Kiev (Rus') was established by Varangians (Vikings) in 862. He published these views in his Sammlung russischer Geschichte, a compendium in German of various sources on early Russian history. In the nationalistic atmosphere of the 1740s and 1750s, this view, termed the Norman Theory, came under attack by several Russians, who rejected the Norman Theory as antipatriotic—in fact, as a manifestation of German chauvinism. Almost immediately Mikhail Lomonosov (the son of a Russian fisherman, and a former seminarian who became arguably Russia's first major academician) emerged as the leading champion of an alternative view, anti-Normanism. Lomonosov's polemics insisted that Russia established its own state: Rus’ was Russian, not Scandinavian. This debate raged throughout the rest of the eighteenth century—and only in the late twentieth century did passions begin to cool.As the opening act in the professionalization of Russian history, the Normanist controversy set a tone that unavoidably politicized virtually all serious historical writing, both at the academy and somewhat later at Russia's universities. Moreover, the politics almost always centered on national identity. Was Russia a worthy European state or, as the issue emerged in the nationalist tones of the mid–nineteenth century, was it utterly different in its essence and traditions? The debate cemented Lomonosov's reputation as the herald of patriotic values, the true Russian scientist, Russia's Benjamin Franklin, and more. If the kunstkamera was the advertisement of empire, Lomonosov soon became the embodiment of national virtue, a canonical figure of Holy Russia's secular face.
Princess Dashkova and the Russian Academy
In 1783, Catherine the Great abolished the Academic Commission and replaced it with a presidency, to which she appointed her close friend, Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, who remained at that post for eleven years. Dashkova was little involved in the day-to-day activities of the academy, and she had no interest whatever in its scholarship. The mere fact that a woman was put in charge is worthy of comment, however. Russia may have become accustomed to female rulers and landholding, but the service system specifically excluded women from holding office. The academy had no female employees, and, so far as is known, neither did any of the collegia through which the Russian administration was organized. Dashkova, however, had been a prominent figure in salon society for some time, and her elevation to the presidency of the academy generated relatively little comment.Simultaneously, Dashkova was made the director of a new organization, the Imperial Russian Academy, a loose affiliate to the Academy of Sciences. Modeled on the Académie Française in Paris, the Imperial Russian Academy was expected to preside over the Russian language, specifically by producing the first systematic dictionary of the Russian language. Civil Russian's divorce from Church Slavonic was largely completed during the eighteenth century, and the awareness that an official vernacular was being used had set off intense debates over language, grammar, and poetics within the Academy of Sciences as early as the 1730s. The dictionary, therefore, represented an attempt to impose official closure to the debate and to bring order to the Russian tongue. The work was entrusted to a committee of natural scientists, whose experience with classification systems qualified them for the job. By 1789, they had produced their first volume; then during the next five years, the full six volumes of the Dictionary of the Russian Academy were published, with more than forty thousand entries. It was a turning point in Russian intellectual life.
Boss, Valentin. Newton and Russia: The Early Influences, 1698–1796. Cambridge, Mass., 1972. A study of Russian familiarity with Isaac Newton and Newtonianism.Find this resource:
Cross, Anthony. By the Banks of the Neva: Chapters from the Lives and Careers of the British in Eighteenth-Century Russia. Cambridge, 1997. Includes two lengthy chapters on British scientists and artists in Saint Petersburg.Find this resource:
Hughes, Lindsey. Russia in the Age of Peter the Great. New Haven, Conn., 1998. Includes lengthy chapters on the establishment of the Academy of Sciences.Find this resource:
Marker, Gary. Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700–1800. Princeton, N.J., 1985. Includes long discussions of the Academy Press and its role in secular letters.Find this resource:
Menshutkin, Boris N. Russia's Lomonosov: Chemist, Courtier, Physicist, Poet. Princeton, N.J., 1952. Rather nationalistic, but the only full biography of Lomonosov in English.Find this resource:
Papmehl, K. A. Freedom of Expression in Eighteenth-Century Russia. The Hague, 1971. A study of the evolution of literary institutions, including the Imperial Academy, in the eighteenth century.Find this resource:
Slezkine, Yuri. Naturalists versus Nations: Eighteenth-Century Russian Scholars Confront Ethnic Diversity. In Russia's Orient: Imperial Borderlands and Peoples, 1700–1917, edited by Daniel R. Brower and Edward J. Lazzerini. Bloomington, Ind., 1997. The debates over race and nation in the Academy of Sciences.Find this resource:
Vucinich, Alexander. Science in Russian Culture: A History to 1860. Stanford, Calif., 1963. The only synthesized account of Russian science and scientific institutions.Find this resource:
The Renaissance birthplace of the academic movement in Europe, Italy, contributed significantly to the formal organization of culture outside the universities during the age of the Enlightenment (Italian, Illuminismo). More than 870 academic establishments in at least 227 centers throughout the peninsula in the seventeenth century prepared the way for academicians to play an important role in social and political reform. Of course, not all the surviving seventeenth-century academies were well adapted for that role. Ludovico Antonio Muratori, one of the founders of Illuminismo, criticized the most successful of these survivors, the Accademia degli Arcadi, for its exclusive dedication to the literary arts. Founded in Rome in 1690 as the first pan-Italian academy, by the early eighteenth century the Arcadi had sister institutions in most Italian cities and in Venetian Dalmatia. Muratori, taking his cue from the Arcadi's geographical extension, proposed the foundation of a pan-Italian “Literary Republic” composed of experts in all the various fields of intellectual endeavor and dedicated to the goal of human improvement; this initiative was blocked, however, by the events of the War of the Spanish Succession.
In subsequent decades, members of some of the more productive older academies—for example, the Aletofili of Verona, the Ricovrati of Padua, and the Fisiocritici of Siena—attempted to adjust the activities of their institutions to the new criterion of social utility. The pressing problems of food production and distribution during the middle decades of the eighteenth century spurred a new wave of foundations more specifically dedicated to economic issues. In Florence, Ubaldo di Montelatici founded the Accademia dei Georgofili in order to discover ways of applying scientific expertise to agricultural productivity. His efforts were emulated by a score of other agricultural academies around Italy, and eventually the Venetian government undertook to place those in its territories under its own protection and to fund them.
Although defended by some Illuministi, such as Antonio Genovesi and Cesare Beccaria, for their attention to economic matters, the agricultural academies were criticized by others, such as Alberto Fortis, for their lack of attention to social and political issues. In the 1760s, a new set of institutions emerged that were devoted specifically to those concerns. The Accademia dei Pugni (Academy of the Fists), founded by Pietro Verri and his collaborators in Milan, joined the chief figures of the Milanese Enlightenment in the common task of bringing about more general and incisive reforms in the Italian old regimes. Publications by individual members of the academy, such as Beccaria's Dei delitti e delle pene (Livorno, 1764), no doubt benefited from the collaboration of the whole group. The group's collective efforts produced one of Illuminismo's most characteristic publications: the journal Il caffè (Milan, 1764–1766), whose easy conversational style helped to popularize opposition to received opinions and to promote a program of social and political change. It is uncertain what the precise connection was between the Illuminismo movement and the Accademia dei Nobili set up in these years by Girolamo Ascanio Giustiniani in Venice; however, there is no doubt that Giustinian's plan for young patricians to read and discuss passages drawn from the French Encyclopédie and the works of Antonio Genovesi was fully in harmony with the purposes of the reformers. Meanwhile, in Bologna, Illuministi including Giovanni Ristori and Sebastiano Canterzani formed a kind of academy known as the Società Enciclopedica, dedicated to the importation, study, and discussion of the French Encyclopédie and other foreign works. Among its many activities was the publication of works by members; out of the collaboration of Ristori and Canterzani there developed the Memorie enciclopediche (Milan, 1781–1787), another important milestone of Illuminismo.
It is difficult to assess the precise contributions of the agricultural academies, the Accademia dei Pugni, the Società Enciclopedica, their many imitators, and their loosely associated publications to the complex intellectual developments that eventually led to the formation of a science of humanity (i.e., a science of human nature and behavior) in late eighteenth century Italy. At least as important must have been the contribution of the specialized scientific associations newly founded during the course of the eighteenth century, including the Bolognese Istituto, the Accademia delle Scienze in Naples, and the Accademia Reale delle Scienze in Turin, as well as combined science and arts academies in Verona and Padua. Many of these survived the Napoleonic period and exist to this day in some form. All were important in the rich community that gathered around Luigi Galvani, Lazzaro Spallanzani, Alessandro Volta, and other protagonists of the late great eighteenth-century resurgence of Italian science.
In spite of the undisputed cultural value of the organizations we have discussed, and the international connections many of them established by offering honorary memberships to selected candidates in Italy and abroad, none of them could claim to be truly pan-Italian in the sense proposed by Muratori for his Literary Republic. The first academy to satisfy this criterion was finally created in 1781 by the Veronese mathematician Anton Maria Lorgna. At first, like the imagined Literary Republic, Lorgna's Società Italiana—also called dei Quaranta (“of the Forty”), after the forty individuals to whom membership was limited at any one time—existed mainly in the minds of its members. In the political situation that began to develop in Italy in the 1780s and 1790s, a completely decentralized association, operating through correspondence, proved particularly effective in connecting leading cultural figures all over the peninsula, including Giovanni Arduino, Alberto Fortis, Lazzaro Spallanzani, and others involved in Illuminismo. Not beholden to any single government or patron, the Società Italiana managed to outlast the Venetian Republic and even built up its form and substance through a modest subsidy from the Napeoleonic regime in Milan. Along with the Istituto Nazionale, established under the constitution of the Cisalpine Republic, it provided a bridge between the cultural world of Illuminismo and that of the Risorgimento, the nineteenth-century movement to unify Italy.
Cavazza, Marta. Settecento inquieto: Alle origini dell'Istituto delle Scienze di Bologna. Bologna, 1990. Considers academic activity in Bologna in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.Find this resource:
Cochrane, Eric. Tradition and Enlightenment in the Tuscan Academies. Chicago, 1961. Still the classic source on Tuscan academies.Find this resource:
Dooley, Brendan. Le accademie. In Storia della cultura veneta, edited by Girolamo Arnaldi and Manlio Pastore Stocchi, vol. 5, part 2, pp. 77–90. Vicenza, Italy, 1985. Places the Venetian academies of the eighteenth century in a wider context.Find this resource:
Farinella, Calogero. L'accademia repubblicana: La Società dei Quaranta e Anton Maria Lorgna. Milan, 1993. Recent study of the Società Italiana (dei Quaranta).Find this resource:
Ferrone, Vincenzo. La nuova atlantide e i lumi: Scienza e politica nel Piemonte di Vittorio Amedeo III. Turin, 1988. Innovative study of the Accademia Reale delle Scienze in Turin.Find this resource:
Maylender, Michele. Storia delle accademie. 6 vols. Bologna, 1929–1930. An indispensable encyclopedic resource on all the Italian academies.Find this resource:
Venturi, Franco. Settecento riformatore: Dal Muratori al Beccaria. Turin, 1969. The last chapter contains an assessment of the Milanese Accademia dei Pugni.Find this resource:
In the eighteenth century sciences and letters flourished in Scandinavia. To some extent, this can be ascribed to the activities carried on in the region's numerous academies and learned societies, which sometimes were founded in opposition to existing universities. These new organizations multiplied rapidly, especially in Sweden. The two most illustrious were the Royal Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739 by a group of politically powerful amateurs and eminent scientists (including Carolus Linnaeus), and the Swedish Academy, established on the initiative of King Gustav III in 1786 to promote Swedish language and literature. Others were the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (founded 1735), the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (1753), and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (1771), all situated in the capital, Stockholm. They were complemented by more provincial learned societies such as the Royal Society of Sciences of Uppsala (1710), the Royal Physiographical Society of Lund (1772), and the Göteborg Royal Society of Arts and Sciences (1778).
In the dual monarchy of Denmark and Norway, the climate for the establishment of academies initially was somewhat less favorable, but in 1742, the Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters was founded on the initiative of the historian Hans Gram. It was soon followed by the Royal Danish Society for National History (1745) and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (1754); in 1759, a society primarily devoted to belles-lettres, Saelskabet til Skiönne og Nyttige Videnskaber Forfremmelse (The Society for the Advancement of Letters and Useful Sciences), was established. One year later, Bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus and his friends Gerhard Schöning and P. F. Suhm launched the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Trondheim. Alongside these learned societies, both Denmark-Norway and Sweden (including Finland) hosted a growing number of economic and agricultural societies, often ambitious and scientifically oriented. The Royal Danish Agricultural Society was founded in 1769, two years after the Royal Patriotic Society was established in Sweden. The Finnish Economic Society, initiated in Åbo in 1797 barely belongs to the eighteenth century but was nevertheless a creation of Enlightenment ideals; it would play an important role in Finland during the nineteenth century, offering prizes and awards, promoting rational farming and forestry, collecting statistical data, and advancing smallpox inoculation.
This practical orientation was characteristic of most Scandinavian academies and learned societies. After the great Nordic war that ended in 1721, neither Denmark-Norway nor Sweden could aspire to be a great power. Instead, the following peaceful decades were a period of internal consolidation and economic recovery. Applied science, technical know-how, economic reforms, and social engineering were in great demand, and the newly founded academies played a crucial role in providing them. Quintessential in this respect was the Royal Academy of Sciences in Sweden. Modeled primarily on the Royal Society in London and the Académie des Sciences in Paris, it soon won international recognition; its Transactions (beginning in 1742) were widely read in the scholarly world—though published in Swedish, they were at various times translated into German, French, Dutch, and Latin. The academy's international orientation was strong: no fewer than 117 foreigners were offered membership up to 1783. The academy (in cooperation with the East India Company) sponsored a number of expeditions by naturalists, including two disciples of Linnaeus—Per Kalm, whose American travel account appeared in two English editions in the early 1770s, and Carl Peter Thunberg, the first Westerner to investigate Japan's flora.
In Sweden, the academy sponsored debates on social issues, advanced population statistics, and popularized science; its widely distributed almanacs always included instructive essays, sometimes openly castigating popular prejudices. The academy also functioned as a forum for promoting civic virtues and patriotic pride; in their speeches—always presented in Swedish—the members were eloquent on these themes, particularly when commemorating deceased colleagues. The consistent use of the Swedish language in the academy's Transactions also reflects this patriotic mission. That nationalist slant also explains the otherwise puzzling fact that the Academy of Sciences for decades functioned as a final court of appeal in questions concerning the purity of the language; when the Swedish Academy was founded, it took over that role.
A patriotic element is also striking in the case of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters in Denmark. As in Sweden, the standardization of the national language was a pivotal concern, and one of the academy's chief assignments was to compile a Danish dictionary. The academy also took great interest in geography. From the late 1750s on, it committed itself to produce an atlas of Denmark-Norway, and it participated in such important works as Eric Pontoppidan's Natural History of Norway (1752–1753; English translation, 1755) and Eggert Olafsén's and Bjarne Pouvelsen's Travels in Island (1772; English translation, 1800–1801). Another project sponsored by the Royal Academy of Science and Letters was Frederik Norden's Voyage d'Égypte et de Nubie (1755; English translation, 1757), a work with many engravings that called international attention to Egyptian architecture and archaeology.
The Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters was initially less international in scope and less oriented toward natural sciences than its Swedish counterpart. Instead, it was strong in the humanities, to some extent a legacy from Hans Gram. The two learned societies can be said to symbolize the different orientations of their respective countries—the Swedes being more pragmatic in their attitude toward learning—but their differences must not be overstated. The Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters, for instance, took practical interest in the solution of the longitude problem and established prizes for the improvement of agricultural implements. In time, it would muster a number of distinguished naturalists, including J. C. Fabricius, a disciple of Linnaeus and an able entomologist, and O. F. Müller, author of Zoologia Danica (2 vols., 1779–1784, carried on by other contributors) and a pioneer in the study of infusoria (aquatic protozoans).
Frängsmyr, Tore, ed. Science in Sweden: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1739–1989. Canton, Mass., 1989.Find this resource:
Lindroth, Sten. Vetenskapsakademiens historia 1–2. Stockholm, 1967. A fine, detailed account of the history of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science from 1739 to 1818.Find this resource:
Mead, William R. A Geographical Appraisal of the Finnish Economic Society. Norsk Geografisk Tidskrift 39 (1985), 57–66.Find this resource:
Pedersen, Olaf. Lovers of Learning: A History of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 1742–1992. Copenhagen, 1992.Find this resource: