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Englishing the Globe: Navigational Technology on and Around Shakespeare’s Stages

  • Adam Max Cohen

Abstract

In 1598 a printer named Peter Short produced an edition of one of Shakespeare’s most popular stage plays, 1 Henry IV, and one of his two long narrative poems, The Rape of Lucrece. Two years later Short printed a revolutionary treatise on magnetism by Dr. William Gilbert entitled, On the Magnet, Magnetic Bodies also, and on the Great Magnet the Earth. Gilbert’s treatise explained such phenomena as the earth’s magnetic field and the nature and behavior of various types of magnets. In it Gilbert waxed lyrical in his praise of the compass needle, calling it the “finger of God” and “the soul of the mariner’s compass” that “indicates the course, and has pointed out the whole way around the earth.”1 Gilbert placed the compass in a class by itself, asserting that “no invention of man’s device has ever done more for mankind than the compass.”2 He believed that the apparent simplicity of the compass made the tool all the more remarkable:

An oblong piece of iron of three or four digits’ length, when skillfully rubbed with a lodestone, quickly turns north and south. Wherefore mechanicians, taking a piece of iron prepared in this way, balance it on a pin in a box, and fit it up with the requisites of a sun-dial.3

Keywords

Dead Reckoning Early Modern Period Heavenly Body Line Technique Small Globe 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 5.
    See Thomas Blundeville, The Making, Description and Use of two most Ingenious and Necessary Instruments for Sea-men to find out the latitudechrw(133) in the darkest nightchrw(133) first invented by my good friend Master Dr. Gilbert (1602).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    A minority view held by A. C. Mitchell and D. W. Waters credits Europe with the first invention of the compass. Mitchell and Waters concede that the Chinese may have discovered the directional properties of the magnet in the eleventh century. They cite 1093 CE as the date of its first use there, but they insist that the Chinese made little use of the technology during the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries. Mitchell and Waters assume that since there is a written record of the needle’s use in Europe in 1187, it must have been in use in Europe long before then, perhaps before 1093. For more on this minority view see D. W. Waters, The History of Navigation in England in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1958 ), p. 19.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Pamela O. Long discusses the compass in a chapter entitled “Clocks and Precision Instrumentation.” See Pamela O. Long, Technology, Society, and Culture in Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe, 1300–1600 (Washington, DC: Society for the History of Technology and the American Historical Association, 2000), pp. 45–48. The other technologies included in Long’s chapter are weight-driven mechanical clocks dating from the thirteenth century, spring-driven clocks, sandglasses, hourglasses, the cross-staff, the astrolabe, the mariner’s quadrant, charts, globes, and the telescope.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Michael Foss, Undreamed Shores: England’s Wasted Empire in America ( New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974 ), p. 179.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance ( Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989 ), pp. 22–23.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    E. G. R. Taylor, The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954 ), p. 167.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    J. B. Harley, “Meaning and Ambiguity in Tudor Cartographys,” in English Map-Making 1500–1650, ed. Sarah Tyacke (London: British Library, 1983), p. 27. For more on the relationship between the map and conceptions of space,Google Scholar
  8. J. R. Hale, Renaissance Europe 1480–1520 ( London: Fontana, 1971 ), pp. 52–53.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    I have argued elsewhere that memory is a critical component of the culture of Hamlet’s Denmark and, by extension, Shakespeare’s England. See Adam Max Cohen, “Hamlet as Emblem: The Ars Memoria and the Culture of the Play,” The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 3 (2003): 77–112.Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    For more on the relationship between gender, sexuality, and discovery, see Louis Montrose, “The Work of Gender in the Discourse of Discovery,” Representations 33 (1991): 1–41, esp. p. 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 27.
    John Gillies locates the Globe within the rich cartographic tradition of the early modern period, asserting that the theater was a “quasi-cartographic product of the same type of cosmographic imagination which produced the world maps of Ortelius and Mercator” (p. 70). Many early modern atlases described themselves as theaters, including Ortelius’s groundbreaking Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or The Theater of the Terrestrial World. Emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between cartography and theater, Gillies claimed that the “difference between the poetic map-maker and the cartographic poet is less important than their similarity” (p. 182). See John Gillies, Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994 ).Google Scholar
  12. 28.
    George Basalla, The Evolution of Technology ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988 ), pp. 176–177.Google Scholar
  13. 32.
    Edward Luther Stevenson, Terrestrial and Celestial Globes: Their History and Construction including a Consideration of their Value as aids in the Study of Geography and Astronomy, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921), vol. 1, p. 190.Google Scholar
  14. 33.
    See Robert Hues, Tractatus de Globis et euorum usu: A Treatise Descriptive of the Globes constructed by Emery Molyneux, and Published in 1592 by Robert Hues (1594), ed. Clements R. Markham ( London: Hakluyt Society, 1889 ), p. 16.Google Scholar
  15. 34.
    For more information on Molyneux’s globes see H. M. Wallis, “Further Light on the Molyneaux Globes,” Geographical Journal 121 (1955): 304–311. A concurrent globe craze on the Continent included the production of such bizarre items as globe goblets. Some of these goblets showed Atlas supporting the Globe, the same logo that Shakespeare’s troupe reportedly used.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 37.
    Thomas Hood, The Use of both the Globes (1592), sig. B1.Google Scholar
  17. 40.
    Thomas Blundeville, M. Blundeville, His Exercises containing Sixe Treatises (1594), p. 242.Google Scholar
  18. 46.
    See Peter van der Krogt, Old Globes in the Netherlands: A catalogue of terrestrial and celestial globes made prior to 1850 and preserved in Dutch collections, trans. Willie ten Haken ( Utrecht: HES, 1984 ).Google Scholar
  19. 49.
    Robert Recorde, The Castle of Knowledge (1556), p. 35.Google Scholar
  20. 50.
    R. A. Skelton, Decorative Printed Maps of the 15th to 18th Centuries ( London: Staples Press, 1952 ), p. 1.Google Scholar
  21. 53.
    See, for example, Jerry Brotton, Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World ( Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997 ), pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  22. 54.
    See J. Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art (London: Harper and Row, 1974), p. 139; and Harley, p. 31.Google Scholar
  23. 60.
    Sidney, A Defence of Poetry, ed. J. A. Van Dorsten ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997 ), p. 65.Google Scholar
  24. 61.
    There is considerable debate concerning the precise date of Donne’s composition of “A Valediction: Of Weeping” and Donne’s other Songs and Sonnets. For a detailed discussion of the topic, see Helen Gardner, “The Canon and Date of the Songs and Sonnets,” in John Donne, The Elegies and The Songs and Sonnets, ed. Helen Gardner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), pp. xlvii–lxii. The poem itself can be found on pages 69–70 of Gardner’s edition.Google Scholar

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© Adam Max Cohen 2006

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  • Adam Max Cohen

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