National Rivalries, Particularisms, and Prejudices
The sense of European societies and cultures held by her own literate, ruling elites was in the seventeenth century a constantly changing cluster of myths and facts, rumors and ancient prejudices. Largely as a result of increased literacy in Western Europe, an eagerness to visit and know about other European peoples stimulated travel, official reporting, and the publication of travel journals about all aspects of life on the subcontinent. Fascination with exotic habits, dress, food, religion, government, and sexual mores clearly increased in some parts of Europe more rapidly than in others. A study of this development on a European scale has never been made, but if the number of publications is at all a reliable indicator of this curiosity, the Dutch and English far outdistanced other Europeans in openness and curiosity about other societies. This did not mean, of course, that there were no Spaniards curious about the English or the Russians. But the higher rate of literacy, the maritime interests of the wealthy, and the relaxed or ineffective censorship of books probably developed a curiosity about other peoples more rapidly in Western Europe than in any other part of the Continent.
KeywordsWild Boar Seventeenth Century National Rivalry United Province True Interest
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