Travel in Early Modern Europe

Travel in Early Modern Europe
Michael Tworek
Harvard University
Europe in 1600
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)
Exile (e.g. English Civil War in the 1640s)
A little of all.
The Grand Tour from England
Crossing the Alps- One Way
Health Certificate from Venice
Fynes Moryson on Inns in Royal
Prussia in 17th C.Poland-Lithuania
• “The Germans of Prussia neere Poland, are much to be
praised for Hospitality, who not onely entertaine
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.”
The Cost of Room and Board according
Moryson in 17th Century
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
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.
• 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.