Travel in Early Modern Europe Michael Tworek Harvard University
The Traveler • kings and princes, noblemen, students, diplomats, the merchant, the clergy, the robber. • the wealthy or a poor (usually though someone with means), anyone with the desire to see the world.
Why did they travel? • Education (university, informal, language) • Adventure, • Business, • Pleasure, • Pilgrimage, • Diplomacy, • Exile (e.g. English Civil War in the 1640s) • Alittle of all.
FynesMoryson on Inns in Royal Prussia in 17thC.Poland-Lithuania • “The Germans of Prussia neere Poland, are much to be praised for Hospitality, who not onelyentertaine strangers at a good rate, and with much cleanliness, and good fare and lodging, (wherein they give cleane sheets, and if the passenger stay long, change them often, as once each weeke, which in so cold a clime may seem less requisite), but also have custome, (I speake of the Cities of Melvin and [Danzig], to give their guests weekely a bath to wash their feete, and as often besides as they returne from any journie, which curtesie I never remember to have been offered unto me, but once in Germany at Lubecke.”
A Wealthy Polish Nobleman’s Advice on Money • “Where it is essential to give money, I will happily afford it but where it is possible to get by without and esp in a foreign country, then I am reluctant to permit spending because in a foreign country, the reputation of being a lavish spender vanishes at once tiwht the departing traveller. Like a man’s shadow which being the outward representation of his person, moves along with him wherever he goes.”
Opposition to Travel: Joseph Hall, Bishop of Exeter (1617) • “I have known some that have traveled no further than their own closet, which could both teach and correct the greatest traveller. After all, his tedious and costly pererrations what do we but lose the benefit of so many journals, maps, historical descriptions, relations, if we cannot with these helps travel by our own fireside? Let an Italian or French passenger walk through our land. What can his table books carry home in comparison? …. A good book is at once the best companion and guide and way and end of our journey.”
Conclusion: What was the impact of travel? Some Thoughts • Francis Bacon: “Those that have joined with their honour great travels, cares or perils are less subject to envy. For men think that they earn their honors hardly and pity them sometimes and pity ever healeth envy.
Stereotypes? • Stephen Powle, an English Protestant Anglican, wrote of Italy: “To speak in general what I think of Italy, I must needs confess to have found a very flourishing country and a fruitless people. I have seen many beautiful cities but gorgeous buildings but polluted inhabitants with vicious behavior, fortified towns with artificial bulwarks and standing walls, but weak captains with ruinous manners that yield to every assault of sensuality…To say in a word, I have found an evil people and a good land.”
Final Thought on Travel • Montaigne: “I deem travel to be a profitable exercise. The mind hath therein a continual exercitation to mark things unknown and note new objects and as I have often said, I know no better school to fashion a man’s life than incessantly to propose unto him the diversity of so many other men’s lives, customs, humors and fantasies and to make him taste or apprehend one so perpetual variety of our natures, shapes or forms. Therein the body is neither absolutely idle nor wholly troubled and that moderate agitation doth put him into breath.” In other words, to travel was to be alive and to be human.