The Early Modern period was not only the age of the explorer; it also saw the Humanist leaning towards Old and New Learning and the resulting educational reform. In this context, travel as a part of education emerges — a purpose hitherto uncommon except for the scholar’s peregrination to European universities. A type of journey associated with a particular value for the traveller’s formal education and his personal development was the Grand Tour: a social institution which took English travellers to certain countries of the Continent, particularly France and Italy, but also Germany, the Low Countries and Switzerland.1 Italy — as the origin of European culture and civilization — was generally considered the highlight of the journey, not only during the Humanist period. In the slightly mocking words of Dr Johnson, who deeply regretted never having been to Italy himself, ‘[a] man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.’2 In the eighteenth century, particularly during the Enlightenment, the educational journey was widely practised and avidly discussed, as for instance in the chapter on travel of Rousseau’s influential didactic novel, Emile (1762). The universalist, pan-European spirit of the Enlightenment fostered travel as a means of edification, and the Grand Tour saw its heyday after the Peace of Utrecht (1713–14) which concluded the War of the Spanish Succession.


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© Catherine Matthias 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Korte

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